My experience as a pastor for 25 years has sharpened my understanding of both the strengths and weaknesses of today's church. In many ways the organized church protects and preserves itself by being resistant to change. This Stasis Oasis has provided living water to those who are hungry and thirsty who found the church on their journey through life or were immersed into the faith by their family who grew up living on the oasis. Congregations have embraced all aspects of marketing and advertising to promote the church and its location. The sign for generations has been to COME and you will find rest for those who are weary and new life. The message is true and has been a great joy and peace to those who found the oasis in the desert of life.
But now much of the society was not born on the Oasis. Much of the society is skeptical of the trappings and traditions of the local church. Many profess their spirituality and faith in a "higher power" but questions whether they need a relationship with a local church. The church use to be the center of the community and the hungry and thirsty world sought out the blessings found at the local church out of deep appreciation, respect, and inherent merit. But now they question the message and methods of the local church. They are wrong.
We have wonderful pastors and churches all across the world who love the Lord and love people. If the community as large only knew the pastor, their ministers and the congregation they would come in from the heat of life and drink from the well that is so deep and refreshing found at the local church.
However, the walls around the church and each person's life has created barriers for believers to go out into the desert and for the lost to find their way to the Oasis.
My calling from God has deepened and become more aware of this deepening chasm between the Oasis and society. I have been blessed to learn ways in which to help individuals and congregations to become more missional or marketplace ministries that appreciate and respect their traditional past but also develop new traditions and rituals that help them to become more viable and vital in today's environment.
Many local churches are dying.
First, the congregation must drink from the Living Well on their own Oasis. Then they must take the Good News into the world and community in which they have been planted.
I know that my calling from God is deeper and wider then ever before to help the local church find its way into the central path of the community by not abandoning its vessel of its traditions and rituals but communicating their value and purpose to a society that speaks a different language and different set of values and beliefs then the local church.
The future is bright for the local congregation who takes us the challenge and opportunities to expand the Oasis and take the Living Water out into the desert of their communities.
The need for the Living Water has not changed. People are hurting, disillusioned and skeptical about institutions, organizations of all shapes and societies besides the church. They need to encounter a genuine and passionate believer who can point them to the Oasis that can be found within them wherever they are. The Message has not changed and should not be changed. However, we need to educate and train believers how to take the Living Water within them into the world they work, go to school, play and work.
This is where my calling from God has deepened and grown through the last few years.
God is calling me to help people to not "go to church" but learn how to "BE The Church" !
Stay tuned to my next blog