One of the fun parts about our church being where it is and believing that God's called us to be something other than a church that remains self-focused and content to grow by making babies and attracting people just like us is that it forces us to think outside of the box. OK, sometimes the ideas are DOA but occasionally what gets produced is something that grabs you.
But to be honest, what's next for us really isn't something new - for all of the time and energy and prayer and fasting we're putting into this six week journey we're on - what we're after isn't something innovative as much as it is something rather timeless. And while we've said that the 'win' for us is to get to the place where we get more of God, what I'm talking about is something just beneath the surface of a world in which God becomes our greatest treasure...the fruit of this God-centered root system. Call it mission...evangelism...outreach...whatever.
I've been thinking about something - most churches I know spend their time and energy going after people who don't believe (if they go after anyone at all)...I'm wondering how you connect with the people who don't even want to believe?
In Graham Tomlin's fantastic book, The Provocative Church, (an absolute must-read), he asks 'what would provoke [such people] to think the Church had anything worth listening to? While we continue to scratch and claw over an increasingly shrinking pool of people who are looking for something to believe in, what if the people of our church figured out why we would ever try to 'evangelize' people who have no desire to hear what they have to say? What if the following gripped and consumed us - that we couldn't sleep at night because we were convinced that the people around us needed to know that:
...things could and should be better than they are. Our present way of life is not the only way of life. And because we have heard news that there is another king, another kingdom, under whose rule things are very different. And here is the good news - the kingdom has come, in Jesus Christ. The king has arrived and you can see signs around that things are becoming different. (TPC, 30)
What if there was a people whose lives were different - in the best sense of the word - and showed those around us that there's something even better than the utopia of Oconee County? A people who live as though 'this planet is made and loved by a creator God; that each person we meet matters, made in God's image, to be treated with dignity and reverence; that God's judgment on a sinful world is real and imminent; that sin and death are now empty, broken forces since the death and resurrection of Jesus; and that one day God will bring in his new kingdom of justice, peace and joy' (24).
And what if this was all lived out in a community committed to putting this kind of world in front of those around them - avoiding isolation and syncretism, instead embracing the chaos of living on the border of two kingdoms - the one belonging to this world and the one that is owned by God?
What if our story of a broken world being renewed was lived out in such a way that people whose stories of despair, boredom and deprivation were traded in gladly because they see something imperfect and flawed but altogether deeper and different than they've always known?