Monday, August 4, 2008

Dream Church

Have you ever decided to make a list of all the qualities you wish for in your dream guy or girl? Maybe you want to find someone who is intelligent, good-looking, enjoys playing badminton, and can never say no to a midnight run for Fourthmeal. You might have compiled a list so specific and outrageous that strict adherence to it will keep you from dating at all, or a more generic list touching on only the most important factors. I know that I once thought up a list, decided that a list beyond the most basic points (e.g. dedicated Christian, intelligent, etc) was a bad idea, and then found someone who is far better than I had hoped for. I will refrain from going into much detail on that point so that I don't make you jealous, but I would like to present you with a different list.


It is no secret that I hope to one day be a church-planting pastor, and believing that I am called to that while also believing that God can do astounding things through His Church constantly leads me to dream of those qualities that I hope to see in the church that God wants me to plant as well as in every church. Today, I offer you the first two qualities of my dream church with more to follow soon:



1. A Church of All Ages

The church is a place in which God brings about profound unity in the midst of diverse people, using every individual's different gifts to benefit the whole. The Church is a body made up of many parts. One area in which American churches now struggle (although many excel on this point) is in bringing together people of all ages into a single church. Different styles of music and conducting a church service tend to appeal to different age groups, and with so many churches in any given town people are presented with the opportunity to choose a church that lines up with their preferences. Unfortunately, this can have the by-product of separating different broad age groups from one another. Christians of all ages need Christians of all other ages, and every age group can be of benefit to all other age groups. Children bring a refreshing innocence, vitality, simplicity, and perspective to those who are older. Babies bring a special kind of joy, along with the opportunity for the rest of the church to remember that we are called to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Teens can bring an energy, a passion, an excitement, and a holy discontent to the church that can help all the members to ask whether or not they are missing the mark as a church in any ways. Those who are older in the church bring experience, a lifetime of discipleship, and wisdom to the rest of the church. There are more age groups, of course, but the point is clear that all ages can benefit all others and are meant to be drawn together to fully represent Christ.



2. A Church of All Economic Backgrounds

It is a sad truth that as the number of churches increases in any given place, the tendency to separate by socio-economic background is more easily given into. Groups with varying amounts of wealth may not feel comfortable around each other and fear coming into too close of contact. The wealthy and middle class may fear that they will feel guilty for their possessions around their neighbors with fewer material possessions, while those who are poorer may fear that they will be judged as inadequate by their neighbors with multiple flat-screen TVs. It may be true that none of these groups feel particularly comfortable around their homeless neighbors. The truth of the matter is that these different groups probably are not physical neighbors at all, but also live in different parts of town. While this is a bleak perspective on the separation of classes, it is all too often accurate, but it cannot be justified for Christians. We, as Christians, are all brothers and sisters in Christ, all children of one Father, are all members of one body, all partakers of one baptism, all neighbors, and all followers of one Lord. We need to not only be acquainted with those of different economic backgrounds, but to really know them, to love them, to be concerned for them as people made in God's image and brothers and sisters in Christ. Those with wealth are called to share their material blessings with their poor neighbors, and those who are poor are called to share their spiritual blessings with those who are rich. We must take care of one another, and to do that we must live in community with one another. The dream church needs the homeless, the poor, the middle-class, and the wealthy.

Check back soon for more qualities of the dream church...