Monday, August 14, 2006

Looking Deep Into Who I Am...

Recently, I've been examining the things I value as related to the church community and leadership. It's important to do so from time to time because 1) our values develop over time and 2) we take them for granted so they tend to be difficult to identify. This is not an exhaustive list of values, but rather specific values that I have found to be at odds with those of other church leaders I have worked with. These values also seem to be at odds with what is taught in seminaries. I am curious what you think?

Jesus (the foundation, the root, the rock)
We need to offer people something they can't get anywhere else in the world - Jesus. Jesus needs to be at the core of our every breath, thought, word, and action. We need to constantly ask "How does this relate to Jesus?" He is often not mentioned in most that we say and do. We mention God, but that is not enough. Jesus is personal - He is the personification of the love, grace, and mercy of God. And without love, grace, and mercy there is no salvation, no faith, and no church. People are much more interested in following Jesus than any religion, institution, doctrine, organization, or personality.

Spirituality & Faith
People are hungry for the deeper, spiritual things of life. An abundance of surface level information is what the world offers. We need to offer more. We need to embrace mysteries of God - not having to explain everything scientifically. (Because we can't, why do we try?) This also means embracing the work of the Holy Spirit along with faith itself because it is only in surrendering to the Spirit that we can be empowered to live our life in Christ. We aren't brought to God by the strongest rational case for His existence, only by experiencing Him, only by His personal influence.

Experience & Passion
Experience is personal. It's related to telling (and listening to) stories, art, senses, audio/visual. Experience can often be subjective, but it is not unimportant. It is heart-knowledge in addition to head-knowledge that gets people's attention. "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." It is from personal experience that passion grows, and from passion comes commitment (because you can't force commitment).

Native Communication
We need to tell stories. People are captivated by other's stories. Stories are more convincing real, authentic, and personal than data. We also need to listen to others and be respectful. We should not make fun of other beliefs but show that ours are true. We need to communicate to people using a variety of cultural languages including art, music, literature, film, drama, and technology. This is the way people are being communicated to all the time. It is their (our) language.

Community & Belonging
In a genuine community, we focus on what draws us together rather than on what separates us - And that is Christ. The body of Christ is essentially a group of people called out by God to continue the ministry of Jesus to "seek out and save" what was lost. WE (the Church) are ushering a dying world into the Kingdom of God. Togetherness and belonging are a rare, precious, and elusive experience in today's world. Therefore, community is more important than denominations, organizational structures, and physical buildings.

Like I said, I would love to hear your comments...