On October 21st, 2011 at 6:30pm, there will be hundreds of worshipers from around the city congregating at Vanguard Church to worship the Lord. This a pretty cool thing that’s happening in Colorado Springs, and I’m hoping that more of these events happen in the future.
As I prepare for rehearsal (I’ve got to leave in about an hour,) I’ve been thinking about how unity seems to continually be a topic in Christian churches, yet is so rarely embodied. Now please don’t take this as an affront to the intentions of any one particular church or even the church as a whole – it’s simply an observation. I mean seriously, when was the last time you went to another church for a worship service and had true “community” with that other church? Oh sure, when we’re on vacation we might try out another church (I recently attended my friend Sean Hutchinson’s church in San Diego, The Resolved Church,) but how are we integrating with those other bodies?
I have been blessed to see many of the worship leaders in the city attend a monthly gathering called “The Worship Merge.” In fact, the One Worship event is a direct outcome of that monthly gathering. It’s also been cool to be a part of the WorshipMob as it’s also trying to break down denominational walls, as well.
What I keep coming back to is the challenge that church leadership faces each and every day to be true to the congregation that attends their churches and, at the same time, continue to reach out to others in an attempt to build the larger kingdom of God in their cities. Being on staff for more than 15 years, I know this dilemma well and have seen it play out in a variety of ways.
On the one hand, you have the church that’s all about promotion. The church becomes a brand and that brand is marketed to the masses. At surface level, this seems shallow and self serving – but is it? I think it could be argued that in this day and age, many people respond based on their felt needs. So if ABC Church meets a felt need more than XYZ Church, then I’ll probably go to ABC Church. The result is that this type of church is responding to a calling to reach out to the masses that may be on the fringe in their faith. A church that takes this approach would say that they are not only attempting to reach the masses but to also develop highly devoted followers of Christ that don’t necessarily attend church based on a “felt need” but on a calling of the Lord.
I like that.
The other type of church swings to the other side of the gamut and doesn’t do any promotion at all. The mantra here is that “the Lord will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” (Matt 16:18 paraphrased) So who are we to attempt, in our own fleshly wisdom, to build anything for the Lord? On the surface, this seems admirable and very godly. And it probably is both. But is it what the Lord wants? What about Romans 10:14 that basically says, “how will they know in less they are told?” (paraphrased)
I think what I’m coming to is a realization that the Lord desires a combination of these things. There’s nothing wrong is advertising and trying to get your message out to people. And there’s nothing wrong in exercising caution and wisdom in how we do that. On the one had, we must realize that pride is a real danger in these waters and we will do well to create accountability structures for ourselves as leaders lest we fall into it’s clutches. On the other hand, we must be willing to share what the Lord is doing and not be ashamed of trumpeting it from the rooftops.
It will be interesting to see what the Lord does in the City of Colorado Springs in the coming months and years as leadership begins to seek ways of unifying. It won’t happen overnight, but little by little, the walls are coming down.
What about about you and your city? How is the Lord bringing people together? How can you be a part of that? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it.