Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are we ready to bridge the gap between our reality and God's vision?

I will never forget a very important conversation I had with my father-in-law. We were sitting around the breakfast room table having one of those conversations that happens on a lazy Saturday morning when breakfast is done and the paper has been read.

We were talking about why we go to church. Fred, my father-in-law, has been an Episcopalian since he was a boy in Hooker County Nebraska. I made the statement that the reason I go to church is to help me live a Christian life in a very challenging secular culture.

Fred said to me he had never thought of church that way. He went to church because that is what you go to church. You don't have to try and live a christian life because that is what you live a christian life. You attend services. You give to the church. You work outside the church on behalf of the church. You give your time. You do this because that is what Christians do. That is how Christians are.

This is the gap between where most of our folks are in our church today and where the culture is.

The folks looking to us for help on their Christian journey need us to talk to them about our journey. They need us to be ready to talk about Jesus. They believe we should be able to show them what is in the bible. They want us to be doing work out in our community, not just sending money. The truth is when we are authentically ourselves we can transform the world.

However, we have to dare to engage outside our normal patterns of being church.

I was recently visiting with a young person who was excited about starting up a prayer/bible/ worship service in a local pub. He was worried that his clergy person or people in the church might not think that was OK. He was worried it might even be an initiative that never got any help or support.

Leaders help us bridge the gap between our experience reality, our conversations, and the vision of ministry God has for us. As Paul says in Ephesians, may you be filled with the wisdom of God that you may know the hope God has for your ministry.

We have to bridge the gap by creating bridges into our community, bridges of community. We need a bishop who will understand the work and lead us into the gap and help us create opportunities for these conversations. We need a bishop who will support our initiatives and support the folks out on the front lines of ministry.

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball