My own Church

Ever since I graduated from New England Bible College, I have been asked a few variations of the question, “When are you going to get your own Church?” Even one non-believer echoed that saying, “If you ever get your own Church, that’s the one I’ll go to.”

I cannot help but be baffled at statements such as these. My own Church? What does that even mean?

Whose Church is it Anyway?

There are some inherent issues if the local Church “belongs” to anyone. And although no-one would outright say, “I own this place” many of us fall into the trap of believing that because we have vested interest in the property of the Church, it is in some sense ours. If I paid for half of the construction process, if I have been given an office space, if I’m allowed to store anything within the walls of the building, this place all of a sudden belongs to me. Likewise, the thought behind what people have been asking is, “When you are the pastor of the Church- you’re the boss, you’re in control, the buck stops with you.”

Now, the Pastor and Elders of any Church must have a degree of ownership: they are to shepherd the flock that is among them (1 Peter 5.1-2) and they will give an account for their faithfulness just like everyone else. However, everyone in the Church needs this mindset: “I have vested interest in this place because I have chosen to put energy and resources into it and the family that gathers here, but I am not the final authority of the Church–this Church is not mine.

But it is mine

As true as that is, we also need to come to terms with the idea that the Church we gather with is ours. I already have a Church of my own. It is a beautiful congregation (not merely a building we meet in) that I get to pour my life into (and that gets to pour into me!) and it, like every other congregation, is a work in progress.

This may seem to contradict what I said above, but if we understand our place in the body of Christ then we know that we do not own the people, building, resources, etc, but we (as a body) have stewardship over what we have been given and we are charged by Christ to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6.2). This means loving the people here and guarding them from the attacks of the evil one- regardless of whether I am the lead pastor, youth director, or fellow minister of the gospel (that is, member of the Church).

Ultimately, she’s is Christ’s

The key to more fully understanding my place in the Body of Christ is remembering that this Church is simply a small part of the Bride of Christ. So before this church is mine or anyone else’s, she is Christ’s. Christ laid down His life for her and will one day bring her home to be with Him.

This should motivate my belief, and thus action, in the areas mentioned above. If the Church–if my church– belongs to Jesus the Christ, then I must “have this mind… which is mine in Christ” (Phil. 2.5). This will motivate me to put my church before myself in all things and desire her holiness above all things.

Is this your attitude in regards to your church? Do you have a church that you can have this relationship with?

Articles on Modesty

Every summer modesty seems to be a big issue in and around the Christian Church. Where ever you fall in this conversation, I would encourage you to watch and read some of the following articles. I have posted two that I agree with and one that I have issues with along with some side thoughts. Enjoy, and remember your responsibility in the Church

Modest Swim Suits:

This is the article that many in the blogo-sphere have been reacting to lately: http://www.qideas.org/video/the-evolution-of-the-swimsuit.aspx.

In it, we are given a technical explanation of why Ms. Rey has designed her swim suits to be the way they are. Her big idea is: Let’s protect the guys around us from falling into temptation. I enjoyed the video and think there is a lot in it we can learn from.

One Response:

From the same web site, one can find this article: http://qideas.org/blog/modesty-i-dont-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means.aspx (Christianity Today also had some, um, “insight” : http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2013/june/dont-blame-bikini-blame-bikini-culture.html)

All I can say about these two links is that even though they have some decent thoughts regarding biblical texts about modesty, they focus way too much on “feel good emotions”. They both talk about how bikinis (and bikinis are not the main thing we should be talking about) allow women to enjoy the world the way we were meant to enjoy it. How else can women feel the sun and the ocean splash against them as they should! As one person said, the same argument can be made for frequenting a nude beach… but that is beside the point.

The point is that we are meant to enjoy the world he has created, but we are called to holiness and encouraging others in their pursuit of holiness, which means that we care about the thoughts and actions of others.

What I wish I had written:

No woman is obligated to dress modestly, but I am deeply thankful when they do because I see it has a gesture of Christian love, like someone turning down a cold beer for a Pepsi, all because they know that their friend is struggling with alcoholism. Modesty is best understood not as a compulsory act motivated by hate or blame, but a conscious decision based on strength and love.

This comes from the best response I have found: http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2013/july/why-i-tell-my-daughters-to-dress-modestly.html?paging=off.

Yes, he is a man. Yes, I am a man. But that does not negate our ability to comment on this situation. The reason I love this man’s response to the situation is that he comes at it from a more solidly biblical view of taking care of our fellow believers (he quotes much of Romans 14 in the process).

Personally, I find conversations with bikini clad (or super short-short wearing, or cleavage-exposing, etc…) women very difficult and try to avoid them at all costs. For this reason, I am glad to be married to a woman who is pleased to care enough about God and me that she takes modesty and appropriateness seriously–asking me constantly if it’s OK to wear what she is wearing. The Church needs mature women like that who are willing not only to care about God in that way, but to encourage younger women to do the same– for the sake of their brothers everywhere.