This morning I got to spend some time with a British pastor with a burden to encourage pastors and recapture a true New Testament church, one healthy and strong that sees missional impact in its communities. Besides the fact I can listen to a Brit read the phone book, I was captivated by his passion for churches to more than simply exist. He told about a church he pastored that was dead in the water but started to see "those people" from the community come to faith and it transformed the way they did church. It all hit when, during a meeting with the deacons, one stood up and said "You're wrecking our church! We don't sing the way we used to, we don't do things like we did before, and the people here aren't like the ones who'd been here before."
Good. I'm glad that church was wrecked.
For one, they thought it was theirs. It's not. It's God's. And God's going to take what's His and do wonders with it. Whenever any of us think we have ownership over the church, or if someone thinks they can dictate what a church does because they have the loudest mouth or the biggest bank account, that's a church that deserves to be wrecked. All of us who serve in ministry do so as stewards and shepherds, not owners.
Second, I'm glad it was wrecked because the people joining had been truly transformed by the Gospel and weren't just going through the motions. How many times do we look out every week and see people casually go through the motions of worship without realizing they've been changed by the greatest news ever? When did we settle for this as normal for the Christian life?
Third, I'm glad it was wrecked because it's only when Jesus wrecks a church can they truly step out in faith and trust Him. Mark Twain once said that church is where "good people go to be told by good people that they're good people." Unfortunately, for most churches, that's all it becomes: a weekly pep talk so we can feel better about ourselves. But when Jesus wrecks a church, that's when we have no other choice but to trust Him. And that's a wonderful place to be.
Fourth, I'm glad it was wrecked because then the leadership and pastors aren't wasting their calling. Far too many pastors are called by God, equipped by God, and find themselves in churches that waste their calling. Instead of leadership, vision, preaching, and mission, the church wants a gardener who will keep things nice and pretty until everyone's dead.
Let's pray that the churches we lead get wrecked.
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.