Not long ago, a friend of mine was asked to preach for his church. Our family decided to meet with his church in order to encourage him and to meet some of the people in his church. Our friend did a great job teaching Scripture and challenging the church toward obedience. I was disappointed that very few people talked to us. I met the pastor and one or two other people, but that’s all. But, I know that it’s a friendly church. It says so on their bulletin.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a student about the missional church. He had been reading about missional and asked me what I thought. For the most part, I simply listened as he explained how important he thought it was for the church to be active in its community, sharing the love of Christ in deed and in word. I asked him how he and his family were serving their community. He explained that he did not have time to do anything right now, but that he had decided that he was missional.
I remember talking with one of my more reformed friends recently about the sovereignty of God. My friend was convinced that God was in control and that everything happened according to his plans. My friend even suggested that the church should stress the sovereignty of God more – in singing, in preaching, in praying… all the time. He then told me that he was very worried about his work situation. He thought he might be laid off, and he didn’t know how he would be able to take care of his family.
I had an interesting discussion recently with someone who believes in “closed communion”. According to this belief, only people who are part of a specific local church should take the Lord’s Supper with that local church. I asked him why and he said that we should know the people with whom we take communion so that we can confront them if they are living in unrepentant sin. I asked him if he knew everyone that was part of his megachurch.
We often think that if we give ourselves a label, then that label accurately describes who we really are. In fact, the way we live demonstrates who we really are – and whose we really are – better than any label.
If we do not warmly greet people and try to get to know them, then we are not “friendly”. If we are not actively serving the people around us, then we are not “missional”. If we become anxious over everything that happens to us, then we don’t really believe that God is sovereign. If we gladly take the Lord’s Supper with thousands of people, then we are not really for closed communion.
If we do not truly demonstrate the love and grace of God to others, then we do not really believe that God is loving and gracious. We can wear any kind of label that we want, but that label means nothing unless our life demonstrates it.