It was 1987 when I started searching, asking God to lead me as I began the listening, searching for my first “call” my first church to do youth ministry. I went out full steam ahead, ready to get to work. Ready to reach the world ready to do youth ministry.
Way way back in 1986 I interned at a church for my youth ministry requirement. I enjoyed the students, the families, the church in general but I’m not sure that this church would have been a church where I would have attended if I wasn’t working there.
So I made this rule. I wouldn’t work at a church that I would not attend. The reason why I made the rule is important. I wanted to get behind everything it stood for, that it supported, the community life, the style of worship all that a church offers. I wanted to be not just a part of it, but to be the church with the Church. I also believe that “fit” matters, and as much as I struggled and sometimes still struggle with “the Church” I believe fit matters for not just me, but many that are searching for a church where they are accepted period, with all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I often hearkened back to my upbringing in church when I was at Colorado Christian University studying youth ministry, church history and theology. I have often thought over the years of ministry how I didn’t really understand the church. You know, the why’s, the what for’s, the meaning of the church. I’ll admit that for the most part, church was at first a chore, the Sunday habit. Thankfully I had a great youth ministry that began to draw me in. Of course, it was the friendships that I had from church that have continued for over 40 years. Nevertheless, over the years (25+ years as a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance) I have seen, experienced, been a leader in many different kinds of churches, traditional, blended, contemporary. What stands out the most as I continue to serve, attend and care about the local church? The people. People that get it. People that like me, have found the church to be a high value. People that worship, serve, that give, that care about their church and what it is doing for and in their community and the world.
What is behind this little blog today is simply this: Church matters period. The local church is here in this world for a purpose. Yes, the local church is an institution. Yes, there is much man made about the church. Yes, there are blemishes in all churches. Yes, the church has some politics to it. Yes, the local church has had times of utter disaster, failure and sin. Yet, the local church has been and is an instrument of God through out the centuries.
The Church, the instrument to reach people, to love people, to worship together, for community life to impact the world. Some people go to church for at least one of those reasons or maybe even 2 or 3 or all. I love the local church period. I appreciate the church that raises Christ high, the Scriptures high, worship high, the community high and desires to make a difference in the culture in where it resides.
When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during WWII he had a choice to make. Would he succumb to the wishes of the “National Church” as it sold out for Hitler’s desires to change the Scriptures taking out the Old Testament and making Jesus an Arian, to hang Swastika’s in the church, change the Bible on the alter and replace it with his own book Mein Kampf? Bonhoeffer’s love for Christ, his love for the church drove him to develop the “Confessing Church” an underground church that would hold fast and strong to the reasons for the church being church and remaining the church during a brutal time in history. Bonhoeffer loved the church.
Bonhoeffer loved Jesus Christ and His Church enough to take a stand for the right things– the local church mattered enough for one man and the other pastors of the “Confessing Church” that they stood against the tyranny of evil that the National Church could not and would not do. Ultimately hundreds of the “Confessing Church” pastors were sent to the front lines and killed for what they believed in– the local church and all that it stood for and against.
I believe in the local Church. God is not done with the Church.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.