As I think about Luke 10:2 and the plentiful ripe harvest described, I am struck with a truth often overlooked in today’s church world. The truth is this…. The harvest is in the field not in the barn.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send OUT workers into his harvest field. GO! I AM SENDING YOU OUT like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3
In Mark 4 “A farmer went OUT to sow his seed…” I wonder, are we spending a little too much time trying to harvest the harvested? Are we spending a little too much time in the barn and not enough time in the field.
I asked this question at a semenar I was doing recently and the response I receieved when I talked about spending time building relationships with those in the “world” around us, not as projects but in caring relationships, didn’t surprise me. The response was from scripture and creates a tension in the church world. Can you guess what the passage of scripture was?
1 Cor. 15:33 —- “Don’t be misled… Bad company corrupts good character.”
So now what do we? There is no shortage of scriptures that call us “out” and no shortage of scriptures that call us “out”. We are to come out and we are to go out at the same time… Feel the tension yet?
I have been wondering a lot about the mission of the church and how often I read about reaching the Unchurched. Is it our mission to “church” the “unchurched”? somehow I think we have come to believe that we have reached our goal if the unchurched cross the thresholds and sit in our sanctuaries. We are rewarded for butts in pews and bucks in plates. We have not so subtly created a culture where if your butt is in a pew and your buck is in a plate on Sunday morning we are not to concerned with where you were Saturday night. We wrongly assume that all is well because of where you sit on Sunday morning. The more we reward butts in pews and bucks in plates the more we move away from our mission as the people of God the “Church”.
We have been called to go and make disciples not church the unchurched. Unless however we redefine what we mean by “unchurched”. When we use this word we tend to define it by those who “don’t attend a church on a regular basis”. This definition leads us to try and get them to our buildings. Another definition for us think about is the church as a people verses a place. Now when we think of the “unchurched” we are talking about reaching people for the Kingdom not a location.
In fact when the “unchurched” are interviewd the discoveries in these interviews reveal that the “unchurched” are not looking for another club to attend but to be connected to authentic genuine people in community.
“But much of what the younger unchurched are looking for is found in the character of God and what our churches are called to be. Note that I said what our churches are called to be, not necessarily what they are.”
Would it change how we did ministry if we saw people as people not as butts in pews and bucks in plates? Would it change how we did ministry if the destination was changed from our facility to the Kingdom of God? Are we successful if the unchurched enter the church or are we more successful when the “church enters the unchurched”?
What if you were to reach people for Jesus and disciple them in community relationships but they never cross the doorstep of your church? Would you be ok with that? How would you feel about them? Would you consider them unchurched, unsaved, or even a lesser class of Christian?
OK women try this – tell your husband that you only want to be married on Friday’s. The rest of the week is for you to do what you want, when you want, and with whomever you want. Oh and you want to be known as his bride whenever it is in your best interest. At times take off the ring so no one knows and at other times, when the right people are watching put it on and make it clear you are married to him.
How long do you think this relationship would last?
God uses a variety of images in Scripture for us to know and understand what a relationship with him looks like. One of those is the picture of the bride. The church is called the bride of Christ. From my perspective, much of the church only wants to be married on Sunday. They want to repeat the wedding every week but never really be married.
James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people…” Is the church of today married to Christ but sleeping with the world?
A bride is to be a bride 24/7 and she should live and act like a bride all week long.
When I do weddings I typically include a comparison between the wedding and a marriage. It looks something like the following…
The wedding is an event
The marriage is a lifetime
The wedding is where vows are made
The marriage is where vows are lived
The wedding is celebrating
The marriage is serving
The wedding promises are made
The marriage promises are tested
When and how did we come to believe that the church is defined by the wedding not the marriage?
Jesus, I only want to be married to you on Sundays. The rest of the week is for me to do what I want, when I want, and with whomever I want. There will be times when I will want those who I am with to know that I am a Christian but at other times it would just be too uncomfortable and not in my social best interest if they know so I will at those times hide our relationship. But I want you to know that i am committed to you and you alone every Sunday….
What did you eat yesterday? I had a scone and coffee for breakfast, 2 enchiladas, rice and beans for lunch, and hamburger helper and corn for dinner. I tend to eat well every day. I didn’t say healthy but enough to sustain life. I couldn’t survive on a “chip and a sip”.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my spiritual nourishment. In our Organic Church we share a meal together each week much like they did in the New Testament times. This meal time is when we share communion. Communion to me has become far more than a “chip and a sip”. Communion is a meal. It is when we are reminded again of our dependence upon God for life. It is when we share that life together with great friends. It is when we realize that we are “His body” together and His body needs spiritual nourishment. I have come to the conclusion that I no longer want a “chip and a sip” for communion, not that it is wrong, but because the meal has challenged me at a deeper level in my relationship with God and friends.
Next time you share communion, whether it be with a chip and a sip or a meal with friends be reminded that our spiritual lives are dependent upon a regular intake of Him the “bread of life”.
Just like I can’t live physically on a “chip and a sip”, I can’t live spiritually on a “chip and a sip”.
How is your spiritual health – Are you getting enough to eat?