Monday, November 19, 2007

Sheep Tending 101

So . . .

If you're still attending Grace Christian Fellowship after hearing that you may need to give up your handy-dandy parking space, or that you'll have to start shopping around for a new seat in the auditorium closer to the front, or that the cabinet cleaning you've been putting off for so long is now on the front burner, congratulations.

On the blog this week I want you to tell me what God is saying to you about the future of Grace Christian Fellowship. Leave a comment here and let us know what you think GCF will look like five years from now, 2012. Dream God's dream for our church.

Here is a question to think through and talk about:

Yesterday we took a look at one of the BIG DEAL miracles of Jesus, the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Men). While the miracle Jesus did was amazing, it was the lesson for his twelve close friends that may have changed the course of human history. It's one thing to feed 10,000 hungry people in the middle of nowhere. It's another thing to teach twelve guys the importance of compassion, comfort, and the provision of God.

There were, however, some blatant contradictions in the message yesterday. I hope you discovered them and have thought about them. They are nagging questions that the church has struggled with since its beginning. But it's a good struggle, and one which always bears fruit. Here's one issue:

In the Old Testament, God sets up operations in a central location within a certain people group: his Presence in his Temple in Jerusalem among the people of Israel. The direction was from outside to inside. Even the Temple architecture featured this general direction: from the outer courtyards in toward the Holy of Holies.

The New Testament brings a change in the direction of God's mission. Instead of the arrows pointing in, the arrows point out. Jesus, instead of setting up a base camp in Jerusalem, travels throughout the countryside, and he himself is homeless. When he entrusts ministry to his disciples, he does not suggest building a synagogue and inviting people in. He sends his disciples out two by two into the towns and villages. When Jesus described his mission to his disciples on the last day of his earthly ministry, his instructions did not include going back to Jerusalem and starting a ministry resource center, or throwing open the doors to a megachurch. His direction was outward bound: go (from here) into all the world and present this good news.

Here's the contradiction: we still gather into churches. In fact, most of the practical suggestions we talked about yesterday as ways to accommodate visitors implied that the most important thing for us to be doing is getting people in. Whereas Jesus tells us to be sending people out.

So, (finally!), here's something to talk about: Which is it, in or out? What does God want us to do?

Next Sunday we'll be taking a look at the teaching of Jesus about holiness in Mark 7. The message is called, Becoming Mr. Clean.

Have a thoughtful, family enriched Thanksgiving holiday.

Pastor Ron

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