Monday, February 2, 2009

Church Footprints

I was reading an article in Church Executive magazine last night about special events churches host, particular with big name people. One church administrator said about her church, "The church always had a big footprint in [big name city]." She was referring to primarily the fact that the church always had a booth at community events and that their worship band went to car shows regularly, playing both sacred and secular music.

That's when I really understand the consumer nature of church. That's not leaving a footprint in a city. That's simply good advertising and making your presence known. A footprint would be making an impact, changing people's lives.

However, I have realized that many evangelical churches take the view of this church--we just need to reach the unchurched and unsaved. Meaning we just need to get them to accept Jesus.

Ultimately, this is selling God, not much more, and it doesn't change people's lives.

Discipleship and spiritual formation change people's lives. Connecting them with God is the first step, but simply selling someone God isn't the same thing as connecting them with God. As the devotional I copied below from John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart explains, we need to connect to the heart of God.

When we sell God, we are simply selling a principle. In many ways, that can separate others (and us) even farther from God's heart and therefore God Himself.

Contrast that with churches that may not do traditional explicit evangelism, but really touch people's lives deeply. Those people are introduced to the heart of God incarnationally. We are able to see God's love working through us AND experience God's love through others. When someone makes a commitment through that, my guess is it's a lot more lasting and much deeper.

THAT'S a footprint, not just well-placed salesmanship. How can you leave a footprint in your community?

With All Your Heart

The heart is the connecting point, the meeting place between any two persons. The kind of deep soul intimacy we crave with God and with others can be experienced only from the heart. I know a man who took his daughter to dinner; she was surprised, delighted. For years she had been hoping he would pursue her. When they had been seated, he pulled out his Day Timer and began to review the goals he had set for her that year. “I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the restaurant,” she said. We don’t want to be someone’s project; we want to be the desire of their heart. Gerald May laments, “By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest level of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?”

We’ve done the same to our relationship with God. Christians have spent their whole lives mastering all sorts of principles, done their duty, carried on the programs of their church . . . and never known God intimately, heart to heart. The point is not an efficient life of activity—the point is intimacy with God. “You will find me,” God says, “when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). As Oswald Chambers said, “So that is what faith is—God perceived by the heart.”

What more can be said, what greater case could be made than this: to find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart.

(Waking the Dead , 48–49)

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