Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I'm just coming out of general church meetings this week, where there have been some incredible stories of the church being told. As much as we complain about the stagnating church in the US, the church is alive and well, and growing at rapid rates at places all over our world.
Stories like the one of a little girl that wandered into a church in the Philippines. She was naked, nameless, and it was obvious it had been a while since she had bathed. They found out that she was living in a burned out car with her drug-addicted mother, and father was not a part of her life. This church has not only clothed her and bathed her, they also gave her a name, Ella. For the first time in her young life, she had a name. Ella is now a regular at this church, and they are ministering to her mother, who is still a drug addict and living out of that broken-down car. Every week, they bathe Ella, and put a clean set of clothe on her. She is coming to understand that she is loved by a God to whom she has never been nameless.
I heard another story about the miraculous stories of redemption that are coming out of Haiti. When the earthquake hit, and people were scrambling for answers, they went to the village witch doctor for answers, food, and water. The witch doctor said that no god he could call on would be able to do anything about this, but they needed to call on the one true God that could be found in "that" church. "That" church happened to be the Nazarene church on the hill, that was still standing. The witch doctor went to "that" church with his whole family, and they all entered into a new relationship with the one true God.
Another church in Haiti was near one of the tent camps that are becoming common among the citizens of this island. 1000 of the people that are living in this particular refugee camp gathered around the church in that community, and after the service, 250 responded to the call for them to enter into new life found in the one called Jesus.
I heard missionaries from the Philippines share about how they are a part of a house church that runs about 25, that they hesitated starting because the oldest member is 17. He also happens to be serving as the pastor. Does he have his theology figured out; no. Has he been educated to know how to properly interpret scripture; no. But these missionaries said they know how to pray and who to pray to, and shared how God is using this group to reach their friends who live in their community.
As I was listening to these stories, and more, it made me wonder why we don't hear more like this in our church. I've watched our university students respond generously to the rising needs in Haiti, that won't go away any time soon, and know they want to be involved in something, want to give their life away, but find myself wondering if we give them anything to invest their lives in and to.
Sitting in church doesn't capture their imagination; stories of what God is doing does. Talking about missions doesn't motivate them to action; serving along side them does. Waiting until we leave the country to be involved in "real" missional activity is selling short the need and responsibility that is ours to reach across the street and back into our cities. These stories moved me, and I think you're no different than I am.
We need to learn ways to tell and create our own stories of faith. We need to make the stories come alive by making them local, not just something that happens "over there", but also happens here as well, when we look around. We also need to expose them to the opportunities that are presenting themselves to use their multitude of gifts in other countries to put in fresh water wells, help create small independent businesses, work as communication coordinators, IT supervisors, create computer support systems, teaching English as a second language, etc. The day of our students going to preach are diminishing, because we're raising a whole generation of indigenous pastors. But building contractors and medical professionals will be needed in Haiti for years and maybe decades.
Story. Telling the stories of God's faithfulness. Telling the stories of what God is doing in his church. Pointing this generation to a giveaway lifestyle that I believe they will embrace, if we just give them opportunities. How do we do this?
We tell the story, and let God speak to them about how the stories we tell are theirs to live as well. Like Kenda Dean says, they want to give their lives to something worth dying for, so their faith becomes something worth living for. I'm just wondering if the church is willing to tell the story and let them go to the places where God will take them. What do you think?
I love my church. It's time we tell its story.
Posted by Oldyuthguy at 8:05 AM