The Church as Institution, Day Six

   You will one day tire of inviting people to a "Church" they are in no way prepared to endure. Some square pegs can round off their edges but to do so requires great effort, real friction and some damage.

   I sat in a small town Bar and Grill a few years ago in East Texas visiting with the owner. He offered a series of reasons why he could not attend Church; schedule problems, hypocrites, boredom, the walls would fall down if he joined his sin to ours.

   "Fine," I finally told him. "Let’s talk about Jesus instead and start a Church you can attend right here in your Bar and Grill. You can be the pastor."

   I have at least four Churches in Brownwood, Texas, right now. One is my Starbucks Church, where I do mostly life training from a Biblical perspective. The second is at the Fitness Center Church, where I answer innumberable questions about the faith. The third is my Basketball Referee Church, where, again, I answer questions, offer counsel and pray with different ones.

   Then, there is First Baptist Church, where I have my headquarters. I hope to open several other Churches around the area as the years elapse.

   The Churches I mention are faith communities. That is, a person of faith establishes a community with others who may be spiritually minded, even religious, or are seeking some spiritual presence in their lives.

   A community of faith can be much like a neighborhood of homes. Someone may move next door to your home. You greet them. You start to look for those things you have in common or, at least, might relate, without intrusion or asking them to change their life-style. You live the life-path God blazes in front of you and so attract others who might enter the faith community.

   Some will require an almost confrontational approach. Many, particularly of the Emergent/Millential/Non-Traditional generation will shy from confrontation.

   Instead of confrontational or non-confrontational, we might think of our calling to evangelize as both incarnational and propositional. The incarnational aspect of what we do is the essence of missions; be there, speak the language, know the customs, seek the person of peace, live the life. The propositional aspect is the essence of evangelism; our readiness to speak a word in defense of the gospel, which is a good news that defends itself by means of proclamation.

   Souls are not bloody scalps to be held aloft over the prone figures of new converts. There can be mutual "winning," without the inference of "loss" in the evangelism experience. Neighbors can learn to live together with all their personal frailties. Believers could do the same in Faith Communities.

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