Time for confession… I’ve felt myself pull back lately from the administrative side of my church involvement, frustrated by the conflicts and bureaucracy of running a church.
We stand together at the end of a worship service and fervently sing “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective. We sing with joy and celebration and passion – and I think in that moment we all mean the words we sing.
But we walk out the red doors of our church and quietly sink back into life’s routine. Our loud plea to God to “set our church on Fire” and “change the atmosphere” and our promise to “lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause” become only words that fade away, not action. I’m guilty of it as much, if not more than those standing around me. But it has felt like such a weight lately – there is so much tradition and culture that must evolve to be a church that moves and shakes and starts fires!
I don’t have the answers; I’m unsure how exactly you become a church that exists solely for Heaven’s cause. So I pull back, retract, leave the community. Leaving never has the intended effect. I end up feeling resentful and alone, thus reminded that I need community no matter how complicated it is.
We all show love for God and one another; we declare that we seek God above all else – every day. But at the very same time, because we are human and the world is corrupt, we fail at that every day, in big and small ways. Thank God for Grace. Thank God we have forgiveness! Thank God we have community!
Community reminds us to do what we’ve promised to do – to seek God ALL THE TIME! Encouragement of one another becomes accountability.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
God intended for us to live in community. God gifted us uniquely and charged us to love and support one another.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Once we can truly exist in community, acknowledging our gifts and our flaws and embracing our differences, we then make an impact in God’s name – we start Fires!
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
This holds true for our smaller church communities, but also for the larger church body in the world. I attended a concert a couple of months ago. Afterwards we gathered outside of the arena to listen to music, just an acoustic guitar and our voices, no flashy lights or stage. We sang together under the stars in a community of strangers, all embraced by the warmth of God’s presence.
So much of our energy is spent arguing with our neighbors. But how beautiful the sound when we come before God and sing in unison with words of praise! All voices, all stories, coming together as one; all broken and redeemed in our own ways. When we join as community with clear purpose, then the Spirit can work; our church will be set on Fire to be God’s hand in the world.
To close, back to me… I share these words with many, but I really speak them to myself. I naturally escape conflict (and thus community) and believe I can accomplish more efficiently on my own. That is false. I need community and community needs me. The administrative component of ministry is inevitable, but through the meetings and budget talks and disagreements over little things, I must remember and declare that we cannot allow our disagreements to hinder our ability to be community.
When we gather as community willing to be the Church in the world – not just on Sunday but every single moment of every single day – then the world will hear our unified voice; then God may actually be able to use us to “Build His kingdom!”