Saturday, July 10, 2017
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Stay connected, Friend.
A few weeks ago, I was riding down the Pan-American highway in Panama, on the way to Darien Province. I asked my missionary friend, Dennis Cook, what concerns he has for the American church as an “outsider” looking in. He related a story about being informed that it was no longer considered necessary, or even desirable, for missionaries to visit churches. They should just have an online presence to communicate and fund raise. He said it was indicative of a broader problem in the church: the demise of real relationship. We are disconnecting from one another, from the Church, and ultimately from intimacy with God. We discussed four areas of relationship disconnection. I thought you might enjoy my notes.
1. Disconnected from missions: Experiencing missionaries up close and personal is vital for Christian growth. If we “date” missionaries online, we run the same risk of being catfished as folks looking for a lover. The sterility of online promotions leaves out the personal passion, the inspirational sacrifice, and the smell of sweaty, human reality that make missions come alive. Indeed, we may find ourselves paying mercenaries to do our dirty work instead of sending missionaries to do the Lord’s work, or rewarding the showman instead of supporting the workman, or simply keeping the filthy, stinking, inconvenient world safely away from our antiseptic bubble. Let’s keep it real!
2. Disconnected from offerings: Now that we can give online with the touch of a button, or even set up a monthly tithe withdrawal with the bank, we no longer take the considered and prayerful effort to pray, write a check, bring it to the storehouse, and intentionally and worshipfully put it in the offering basket. Giving is a faith-driven, purposeful step of obedience and adoration. Take a moment to pray before you tap, “Send.”
3. Disconnected from the church: The internet has made it possible to get teaching, even great teaching, without even getting out of bed. Even when we go to church, the venue is often more like a Broadway production than a family gathering: The room is dark, the music is loud, the production value is impeccable. The question is, are we being discipled or entertained? Bible Christianity can only be lived out with other people. That means working with irritating humans, being corrected when we need it, and being committed to serving rather than just receiving. Christianity is not a commodity, it is a community.
4. Disconnected from the Word: I have steadfastly refused to have Bible verses projected on the screen above my head while I preach. I know it’s inconvenient. Being a Christian is not supposed to be convenient. When the trials of life happen at 2 AM, the relevant passage will not magically appear on your bedroom wall. You will have to know how to find it yourself. Church is so you can practice. It is not entertainment, it is training. Don’t let the Word of God become part of the show. It is life to those who find it and health to all their flesh. Open your Bible and follow along. You’ll thank me later.
Somebody Said: “As connected as we are with technology, it’s also removed us from having to have human connection, made it more convenient to not be intimate.” Sandra Bullock
Scripture Reading: Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12:4-5 NLT)
We often say, “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” I believe that. One dictionary says that a relationship is, “the way in which two or more people or things are connected with or involve each other.” ( © Macmillan Publishers Limited 2009–2017) To be in relationship, I must be involved. That implies some action, some effort, and some give and take. Lord, let our relationships be interactions, not observations.
Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
Visit us online presence at www.fcftucson.org