I dream of a church where...
Jesus and the gospel He proclaimed is the center of everything. Jesus changes lives, and the gospel He proclaimed changes lives and communities as God's people live out their faith in all arenas of life. The Bible is not a self help book as practical as it is. It is the story of redemption - how the God of the universe came to change broken lives through forgiveness, new life, transformation and purpose in joining Him in His work. At the center of everything is Jesus who invites us to follow Him. I dream of a church where Jesus is the center of everything.
The transformation of the gospel in our lives is the goal of all we do. Transformation of our hearts where we understand and live out grace, transformation of our minds so we think like Jesus, transformation of our priorities so our live reflect the concerns of Jesus and transformation of our relationships so that we see people like Jesus sees them and love them like Jesus loves them. Transformation is not a set of rules and regulations but cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see these four areas that make up our lives resonate with Jesus. I dream of a church where becoming like Jesus is the overriding goal.
Success is defined by spiritual transformation and not by numbers, size, facilities and programs. Too many churches are chasing the wrong dream - size, facilities and programs when the Biblical definition of success is spiritual transformation of people who live, grow and minister in community (Ephesians). I dream of a church where success is not defined by the metrics of the world but by the life change Jesus wants to bring.
We are outward focused rather than inward focused. Jesus went to where the people who needed him were while we often hope they will come to us at our church. If you look at the typical church programming we are so scheduled with church activities that we have little time to develop relationships with those who need Jesus let alone to get involved in meaningful ways in their lives. I dream of a church where intentional involvement with those who don't know Jesus is the norm not the exception.
Grace and love reign supreme. Each of us who knows Jesus is in His family because he extended His amazing grace to us when we did not deserve it and He loved us with an everlasting love. If He did that for us, we need to do that for one another and for those who don't yet know Him. I dream of a church where His love, acceptance and grace is extended to all and is the magnet that draws people to Jesus.
God's truth is proclaimed in its fullness. God's Word contains all that we need for a life of godliness but it must be taught in its entirety - those parts that we love and those parts that are hard and inconvenient for us to confront. Jesus gladly forgives our sin but also calls us to obedience and followership. He freely gives us grace but tells us not to use that grace as an excuse to sin. The Pentateuch gives us a foundation for a moral and upright life, the historical books examples of people who did or did not follow God, the books of wisdom proclaim the fear of the Lord, the prophets, the heart of God, the Gospels the centrality of Jesus and the epistles the guidance for holy living. I dream of a church that boldly proclaims His truth in its fullness so that we are thoroughly equipped for a life of godliness.
Transparency and authenticity are the rule rather than the exception. Christians are broken sinners, saved by grace who still struggle with all the issues that make up the human condition living in a fallen world. Yet the church is often the last place that we are able to be authentic and transparent about our struggles. I dream of a church where authenticity is celebrated and through transparency we are able to experience and give grace and spur one another on to faithful followership of Jesus.
Our communities are directly impacted by the gospel. Jesus did not come just to change individual hearts. His gospel is designed to have a profound impact on society through the influence of His followers as they live out their faith in their circles of influence, neighborhoods and workplaces. Jesus Himself asked us to pray that His will would be done on earth as it is done in heaven. I dream of a church that takes seriously His call to be salt and light in their community and influence their community with the love, righteousness and grace of Jesus.
All people are equally loved, cared for, appreciated and ministered to. Jesus loved all and He had special compassion and love for those whom the rest of society spurned whether wealthy tax collectors, beggars, the poor, the lame and sick or prostitutes. All were welcome at his table, in His crowd and in His family. We cannot live out the life of Jesus or His gospel without caring about all people, not simply the ones who we are comfortable with. I dream of a church that goes out of its way to find and minister to the marginalized in society.
The reputation of Jesus is always lifted high. Congregations, like people, either lift high the reputation of Jesus or drag Him down to our level in the minds of others through our behavior, love or lack of it, grace or lack of it. Fighting and bickering congregations hurt the reputation of Jesus while those who live in unity, even in the hard times, lift it up. I dream of a church that places His name and reputation higher than its own wants and desires and always chooses behaviors that will lift Jesus high.
And you, what do you dream for the church?