Thursday, July 24, 2008

Out of the Hothouse

For many years I have been thinking about church. It seems odd to me that we create hothouses (we call them ministries) within the walls of the modern American church building where we conduct all manner of programs designed to " bring people in" so that we can "reach them with the Gospel". I honestly cannot find any examples of this particular behavior anywhere in the Bible. I know that someone will read this and pray that I will be suddenly struck by lightening, but I have to say this.

The passage in Luke 14 where Jesus talks about the master who speaks to his slave to 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled", this speaks of an invitation to come to Christ, not to a bible study or pancake breakfast. Now, I am not against pancake breakfasts or bible studies. But we tell the 98% of the average church, who are not called to vocational ministry, to find their place of fulfillment within our "hothouse programs" that have precious little to do with their destiny in Christ. There are so many who are called to the marketplace to fulfill their destiny and, instead of helping to equip them and encourage them in that, we emasculate them by making them feel that if they are not helping us fulfill our dreams within the four walls of the church, well, they are somehow falling short of their potential in Christ.

I remember talking with a business woman once who felt condemnation from the women in her church because she was not active in the ladies ministry. Never mind that she was giving herself, as God was leading her, to the women connected to her business who might not have been confronted with the love of God if it weren't for her willingness to be used mightily by God in her "marketplace ministry". I applauded her obedience and told her to ignore the yapping dogs.

I know that God loves His church and so do I. I do not pretend to have all of the answers to the problems in the American church. I am also not just a critic who has no answers. There is much that the church does well and I want to be a part of the solutions to what needs work. I do believe this though-we in the church should rip the roofs off of the hothouses and send people out to do whatever they were born and destined to do. We should applaud peoples' tenacious obedience and encourage them to ignore life's critics. Jesus spent His time out where ministry grows the streets and the marketplace and people's homes...not in a hothouse where things only grow under artificial conditions and out of season.


Mateo August 2, 2008 at 11:15 AM  

You don't know me, but I'm a "cousin" within CFN. I found your blog in a round-about way, but am glad I did. So I'm now reading back through previous posts and really appreciated this one in particular. The past year in our fellowship has been a journey in moving from "God wants to help you, feel free to stop in at 10 a.m. Sunday" to "God wants to help you now, and that's why He brought you into my path". Thanks for the great words of wisdom, you've gained another frequent blog visitor. God bless.