Posted By: Tim Mannin
ENTRY THREE in our writing series, EIGHTEEN, which is all about some of in's and out's of this church.
So what is the title of this entry all about?
Well, when I was about 22 or 23 years old I went to conference that was supposed to teach me everything about building a large and successful ministry. I showed up with a few others and was overwhelmed by the huge and the creative ideas that we saw. They shared a number of successful ways to gather a crowd of people.
This conference told me all about having city-wide hamburger eating contests, bringing in famous people to your church, having things like a wolf at one of your services, and having massive giveaways and door prizes to hopefully attract a huge crowd. I also saw that providing iPods, computers, and endless video game systems in your church for teenagers to play on would be a great way to attract young people and their families. During one of the messages given at this conference the guy speaking literally repelled on to the stage from the rafters of the church. He literally zoomed in from out of then air, landed on the stage in a flamboyant Bear Grylls type moment complete with background music adding to the dramatic effect. He then proceeded to share with us how to impress a crowd a people when you give a message... I guess I should say, "mission accomplished bro - I'm impressed!"
I get it. It’s all good. I’m not here to trash anyone or anything. Those ideas are simply ways to attract people in in order to share the Word of God with them. It certainly has worked and people have come to know Christ as a result. I’ve done my fair share of this sort of ministry.
Over time I’ve developed the conviction that gathering a crowd isn’t the hardest or most important thing to do in the church. If we can get enough money and we put enough energy into it we can get a crowd of people to show up. If our goal is a crowd – well then as a church we are smart enough, resourced enough and creative enough to do it. But…it will come at a cost.
What is that cost?
Well besides a lot of mullah. It typically comes at the cost of creating disciples. If the goal is the crowd and the crowd was enticed by flash…well then the crowd will typically want more flash. Then the church is in the ever-present reality of creating more flash in order to maintain and grow the crowd. The justification for this sort of ministry is often the example Jesus…Jesus would attract a crowd by doing miraculous signs and wonders and then he would share the Good News with the crowd. This is the model that many churches believe they are essentially following.
For the record…attracting a crowd by purchasing 5,000 hamburgers for an eating contest isn’t the same as Jesus feeding 5,000. Jesus attracted people with the power of God – our churches have reduced themselves to attracting people with the power of entertainment.
Let me stop deconstructing on that point. Often we deconstruct too much.
Let me construct something different.
What if the primary energy of a church was focused on the transformational power that God can do within each of us in the way we are living our lives day in and day out? OKC Community Church has started this church by spending our primary energy on talking about and painting a picture of how each of ought to live. Instead of most of our energy being spent on creating events, producing programs, or providing consumer type ministries – we are hopeful that we actually will learn what it means to live the gospel.
For many of us our Christian life has been a process of sin management, church attendance, and for those who are extremely committed, the discipline of a quiet time. There is obviously much more to what it means to live the gospel. OKC Community is decreasing the noise and the flash in order to genuinely talk about what it means to follow Christ.
How do we become people who doing things that matter every day?
How do we become the most loving people in our neighborhoods?
How do we become a living sacrifice?
How do we love God and live the Gospel?
How do we BE the Church?
How do we bring life to this city?
This is where we have focused. This isn’t intended to be an indictment or a slam to anyone. This is statement of clarity about our focus and how God is leading this church.
Romans 12:1-2 (THE MESSAGE)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.