The REAL-LIFE Heartbeat
Gospel Centered Community
In the last few years, I've experienced that many people approach the church with an attitude of "what can the church offer my family?" Or "what has it done for me lately?" The pressure this puts on the church staff side is enormous. So, the church becomes about creating this experience (which sometimes has nothing to do with Jesus) for the people walking through the door. Therefore, the church is about trying to accomplish certain things to please the people. We need to have this army of hosts who meet you at your car and walk you in with a smile and good conversation. You need someone to hold each door for you. More smiles are good. The coffee needs to have a perfect temperature and flavor. Signing the kids in needs to be a smooth process and youth need to have the best relationship with their youth pastor. We like a service that is not too loud, but is extremely entertaining. And a pastor that is always encouraging, knowing exactly how to meet our needs. Ultimately, an experience that is safe, friendly and about us. This rant can sound sarcastic, bitter and negative, however it is actually the norm in the bible belt church today. It is dominant in meetings of men who put on church services today. It's also impossible to sustain...
In Romans 12, the apostle Paul unpacks for us what Gospel centered community (church) looks like and how it thrives central to Jesus. "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)
Paul gives us this beautiful outline of how the church should be central to the gospel and that community exist only because the Gospel is alive in it. We seek to be a place that is authentic to the purpose. The community of believers all share in common with one another in a deep way. We simply fall short of the glory of the Lord and our sinfulness and selfishness can't be ignored. We don't have to approach the community of believers with painted faces and super smiles and feel good stories about our day, even though those are good things. We can come to the community with authenticity because we know we will be accepted in our weakness for who we are. Confession of sin, struggles, fears and failures are accepted and necessary for gospel-centered community. We begin to realize we cannot substitute the importance that has been developed in having gospel-centered community in our lives any longer. Jesus' righteousness becomes the building blocks to any community that is central to the gospel. He is enough for our lives! Our attitude for the church will begin to look more like Romans 12: genuine in love, fleeing evil, loving and honoring others, not lazy, rejoicing in hope and patient.
There is nothing wrong with men greeting and holding doors. There is absolutely nothing wrong with even entertaining worship services and preachers that meet needs. However, if the attitude of the church is to "create an experience" to attract people to a place and then call itself a community of believers, then it is just not consistent with scripture. If the reputation of a church is built on what it has to offer you, it is also not consistent with scripture. This community is not built on a foundation of righteousness. It's probably not a place that feels to authentic. Gospel-centered community is something raw, real and transformational and the only way those things happen is because Jesus is the central focus to this community.
Pastor Redeemed Fellowship Church