Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Road Not Traveled

My wife and I have the opportunity to travel widely across the country, observing, listening to and engaging in conversation with the fellowship of the churches of Christ. As we do this I keep a travel log of what we are learning. Recently I was blessed to share with our local preachers what God has been doing through Kairos. Since many of these men are my “traveling companions in the kingdom” I wanted to share with them some of what I have been learning about our fellowship. The following is a condensed version of those thoughts. I pray these considerations will encourage and challenge you as you serve God in his great kingdom.

1. Our heritage is blessed by a powerful “believers church” theology that, in its strength, is not complacent with the world as it is. For church planting, it is this theological heritage that critiques pragmatism or personal preference as the foundations for decision making about what a church planter will do. Our believers’ church heritage should help us live out God’s desires in the midst of the fiercely opposing values of a world where the “prince of this world” rules hard. Leonard Allen in Things Unseen describes the essence of a believers’ church theology as an apocalyptic vision of the kingdom of God of which we are both recipients and outposts; this apocalyptic vision provides the dynamic that energizes us into service to the world.

2. Our fellowship is blessed by a deep desire to obey, rooted in a trust in God’s Word. When this desire to obey is based on relationship, knowing God--we do well; when this desire to obey is interpreted as being knowledgeable of the Word, disconnected from relationship with a personal God, we lapse into law-keeping which turns us brittle and harsh.

3. The Road Not Traveled – This is the title of the final chapter in John Mark Hick’s Kingdom Come, the story of James Harding, David Lipscomb and the Nashville Bible School. Our fellowship, and probably God’s people in general, tend to do better when we are traveling folk and not settlers. Our call is still the call of Abraham to leave Ur and of Moses to leave Egypt so that we can experience God as we travel with him. Working with John Mark’s theme, here are three areas that for me constitute the road our fellowship in our generation has yet to travel:

a. Reducing our pride and arrogance. Our spirit of debate and insistence on our correctness are signs. Our well-honed ability to critique, evaluate and look for fault is another. The most damaging evidence of this sin is our struggle with spiritual submission to those whom God brings with spiritual authority into our lives. I confess, I am truly a child of my heritage—I feel I can do better then “they can.” So I have the right to tweak, adjust, dissent. But honestly, I can’t do better. I’m doing the best I can. Lord enrich my willingness to be blessed by others.

b. Serving the world as part of the fellowship of the broken. Our strong “set apart” exclusivity has not only separated us from other believers’ traditions, it has often separated us from the world God intends for us to serve. If we are to be salt and light among God’s lost people we will gain the opportunity to be heard as we recognize that we too are members of the fellowship of the broken. It is this personal recognition that will raise our level of compassion out of the pew and into a life of transforming service in God’s world.

c. Developing a culture of generosity at the level of the congregation. My experience is that as individuals our fellowship can be generous—at times. This has seldom been my experience at the congregational level. A friend of mine recently made this observation of us, “When missionaries go to churches of my fellowship if they do not ask for big money, the churches are insulted. When missionaries go to churches of Christ your churches are insulted if they are asked for money.” Giving without expecting the benefit of the gift must truly be the definition of generous giving. My experiences suggest that generous giving is a road our churches have yet to travel.

I just wanted to share these thoughts with you as we learn together how to minister from our fellowship, calling one another to God’s mission among God’s lost people.

God bless you all for your contributions to the kingdom.

Stan Granberg

Kairos executive director

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Stan, I enjoyed our phone converstaion while I was at Manatawany this past week. "It's a small world afterall." I know I don't have to tell you that. I'll be checking in on your blog and Kairos from time to time. Internation mission is in my heart, but currently my four sons and their friends are my mission. Lord willing, he'll provide a time when other missions are possible.

Your parents were such a blessing in my life, when I was a child. No doubt, their love for my family helped me in my spiritual journey, and will influence my future generations as well.

Thanks for sharing your journey.