I started out this week to write about a subject inspired by an article written by John Pavlovitz, “Hello From The Outside”.(http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/01/12/hello-from-the-outside-how-the-church-fails-and-forgets-those-who-leave/)
Well one reference led to another and I was soon overwhelmed with information. The article was straight forward and at times pretty blunt. Blunt meaning in this case likely to not be received well by some in the “church”. Here is an excerpt from that blog.
“Some advice to churches and pastors and church staff about their back door:
If your church is too big to minister to people individually, your church is too big.
If you have no scalable system of pastoral care other than telling people to get into a small group, you have a lousy pastoral care system.
If people can come and go for months in your building (and ultimately leave) without you or anyone knowing it, you’re failing those in your care.
Pastor, if all you want to do is preach from the stage or the pulpit, stop calling yourself a pastor and admit that you’re a preacher or a religious celebrity.
Churches, if all you’re interested in doing is putting on weekly one-hour crusades, stop calling yourself a church and just be religious event planners.”
So just what exactly is the “true church”? You can google that and find any number of answers. Stefan Stackhouse had this little gem in his writings.
“We have found it useful to build church buildings, and denominations, and clerical hierarchies, and liturgies, etc. Nobody should think, though, that these are one and the same as the true church; you don’t see any of these things in the vision given us in Rev. 7.”
Stefan also points out that the true church is as Jesus said in Matt 18:20: “Wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them.” Ah, at last biblical references to which I immediately went to. There were many, and I decided to look closer at Acts 7: 11-12… And all the angels stood in a circle round the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell upon their faces before the throne, and worshipped God, saying: ‘So let it be. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and forever. Amen.’
The praise of the Angels where they ascribe blessing to God; and we his people must always offer blessing to him for creation and redemption and divinely ordained events and outcomes. He has made us and we are his and through his son Jesus Christ he has redeemed us
The Angels ascribe glory, wisdom, honor, power, and strength to God and we must always at all times in all things offer thanksgiving to God. We must never be guilty of the sin of ingratitude. What about that back door? People leave churches, denominations and in some cases the church altogether. The real danger is that they will never open or enter another front door again. We can do no better than to meditate on the praise of the angels and do everything in it. It has been said and written that the God we serve is Holy and so should we be. That back door will always be there and no “program of the week” will keep some from using it. Matt 18:20: “Wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them.” It is really pretty plain. The presence of God is not dependent on numbers and the best advice for the church is to do as the angels do……praise at all times the glory, wisdom, honor, power and strength of God, seeking his presence among us, to be Holy just as our God is Holy.
Come in the front or back door, just come. See you in the pew next week.