We are approaching our annual leadership retreat for the church this weekend. Myself and a few other 'visionary' leaders are aiming to begin what I am sure will be a long and sometimes painful process of transformation. A transformation from an inward focused congregation to an outward focused congregation.
I've done lots of reading on congregational transformation. It's not always a nice thing. Many people (usually older) resist the change because they like church to be all about them. The church is there to care for them and their needs and to make them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any evidence of this being a biblical model of church.
So often we forget that we have been called to "go and make disciples of all nations" and that the way of Christ is not always easy. Christ's way is a way of service and compassion--two things I see many mainline churches sadly lacking. Sure, we have compassion for each other, our own members--but not for those outside our walls, the ones truly hurting and in need.
This is a total paradigm shift from the church of the 1950's era. This is the church model I'm fighting against. A model that allowed church to be on par with a social club like Rotary or Lions club. A model that saw church as a place to see and be seen, a place that you went because that's 'what nice people do.' A model that even had a dress code or you weren't allowed in.
That's a lot to go up against. I'm glad I have a few folks who are interested in and committed to fighting this battle with me. As one of them put it, "we're turning a barge around in a ditch." Yep. That's about right. Pray for us, k?