I wonder what a person attending church for the first time would think the church was all about. I wonder what that same person would say Christianity was about after a few weeks attending the church. I even question what long time church attenders would say belonging to a church and following Jesus was about. No matter how many times we say we are saved by grace through faith and how often we claim we only want to do God’s will, we still find it hard not to buy into the idea that we must be busy doing something.
The way we view the church and worship has been challenged.
What has become the topic of many sermons and what has filled the pages of the most popular books, what we have studied in our small groups and the way we structured the ministries of our churches all seem to have one thing in common – a busy congregation is an effective, healthy and community reaching congregation. To live out this idea churches try to offer a smorgasbord of programs based on the idea that this is the way we impact the community and give the members an opportunity to be busy for God.
Doing nothing is not an option but neither is doing something just because you can.
We have used and still use terms like missional, seeker sensitive and purpose driven. None of these are wrong on their own but all of these can be the rally cry for a distorted sense of what it is to be a follower of Christ.
Bang the drum, sound the trumpet, rally the troops, we’re going to start a new program that will introduce people to our church and you need to get involved!
Just think, all those people who come will see what great people us Jesus followers really are.
This is what church is all about; remember faith without works is dead so get busy doing something.
Faith that does not lead to actions is not faith but faith that centres on actions isn’t faith either.
What is our faith placed in? The right answer is God’s plan for humanity completed through His son Jesus the Christ. Our faith is centred on the grace extended to us through the work of Jesus Christ. To believe and embrace this is salvation. Out of our salvation comes the desire to live our lives in a Christ like manner and share with others the grace of God and the message of salvation.
We are not saved by our actions nor are we living out our salvation if being saved does not lead us take action. In this truth is a hidden danger.
There is something odd about using the word action in this context.
To say that something led you to act is one of those oddities in the English language. If something makes you take action you are not acting but reacting, you did not initiate the process but instead you responded. When we create a busy church we take action and our faith is tied to those actions. All we are as a church is a bunch of programs that we feel will make us an effective, healthy and community reaching congregation. (Blog – Action or Reaction?)
We usually start with the best of intentions, often after considerable prayer. God speaks and we are led to react to His calling. We act with enthusiasm and see God bless the work He called us to start. What next? Now that God has given us success through a program what should we do? The answer is often to take action; we need more programs.
The slow trickle of a stream carries away the ground around it one grain of sand at a time.
The faith that led to prayer, the faith that led to the church stepping out in response to the answer to their pray, gets slowly eroded by success. A program that was formed out of faith can lead to a program based faith. Our church and our lives shift from reaction to action. The focus of our existence as Christ followers and as a collective of Christ followers shifts from programing that is birthed out of our faithful response to God’s calling to programing that is birthed because that’s what faith has become, programs. We don’t see it coming, we just get busier. Our prayer for God’s direction and calling is replaced by our new initiatives meant to better show how faithful we are.
Program Based Faith or Faith Based Programming – are you willing to live out your salvation based on pleasing God through your actions or pleasing God through your reactions – obedience to His call?