Yesterday, at Church of the Suncoast I put the challenge down about the local church. Here is what I said:
"God has entrusted us with His unstoppable vision. Here’s my question for you. I pray it haunts you and keeps you up all night long. Will you give your life to the church? In our plush, comfortable American churches will we give our life for the local church? Will you give your life to the vision?"
I know a lot of people got jacked up about what God is going to accomplish in the community and the world because of a group of people gathering in a middle school cafeteria in Land O' Lakes, Florida. Maybe you were one of them.
The church is the only hope for the world. It is not government (even though they would like you to think that), it is not institutions, it is the local church. Jesus died for the church and I believe He is asking us to do the same today. Is He asking us to literally give up our lives for the church like the early believers, don't know, can't imagine that in our country but there are people today in parts of this world dying for the church because they know how important it is. Most likely God is asking those of us in America to get off our blessed assurance and care for the church enough to give up whatever we have to give up to see if thrive and flourish.
So here are three things I think we could give up for the church:
1. Our time
The bottom line is it takes time for the church to function on all cylinders. It takes tons of people all serving to see the vision become a reality. And, since the vision I believe is always getting bigger it always takes more and more people giving up more and more of their time. We need you to serve at the Suncoast or whatever church you go to! It is not someone else's job, it is your job and my job to make sure the church is working!
We could also give up our:
2. Our resources
It takes money to do ministry, you might could call it "Monestry". And, the Biblical mandate is we bring back to God the first 10% off the top. We bring that back to the local house of worship so that the vision can move forward. Even in the Old Testament before "money made the world go 'round" you see this principle laid out for us. If you are a Christ-Follower we don't get to play the "I could not afford it" card when we stand before Jesus! He says, "Trust me" and either we do, and we will be blessed, or we don't and our finances will be cursed. Read the Bible!
We can also give up:
3. Our need for control
The bottom line is you can't control the vision or the movement of God. As the church, we the people need to give up our control to the people God has placed in authority over us. We don't serve men, we serve God and God has entrusted the vision to leaders to equip the church to change the world. That doesn't mean we all look alike and act alike and listen to the same music and all agree on everything. But, we place our trust in Jesus and in the leadership who articulates that vision.
The bottom line is Jesus said take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him. Guys, that is where we are going, are you in?