Nov 11, 2005

what's in your heart? (pt.3)

So as to be as transparent as many of you have, I thought I would take the time to share what's in my heart. This is what keeps me up at night and dreaming throughout the day...

Imagine a church
where God is pleased.

What would that church look like?

I believe that church would have a heart for Him.
And how would that heart for Him show up?

  • Everyone would have a love for God individually… everyone who called themselves a Christ-follower would have a hungering heart that sought Him in a deliberate way each day.
  • For those married, the next outflow of love would be to his/her spouse. Marriages would become tangible examples of the love Jesus has for the church – mutually sacrificial and submissive to His leadership and love.
  • Kids and families would not take a backseat but get cared for as everyone’s first and primary ministry. There would be a healthy environment of conversation in every home where spiritual issues got raised and figured out together.

The community and region would feel the impact of all of this.

  • Homes would become spiritual lighthouses in the community, causing neighbors to feel loved on, appreciated, and inspired to ask questions about Christianity or for prayer (maybe even without believing in either… yet).
  • Offices, cubicles, factory lines, and the workplace as a whole would transform from a place where we “did our jobs and got a paycheck” to “mission fields where we got paid by the world to use our marketplace skills while God used us as His representatives in those fields.”
  • People would know the message of Jesus in the region, perhaps without even knowing why. Maybe this is in play because they saw a billboard or a movie ad someone took out that highlighted the Name of Jesus (and not the marketed name and logo of a local church). Or perhaps it's just because when they go to certain places and interact with certain people, they get a sense of a kind of care and concern unlike anything they’ve experienced. Not only would those who were battered and bruised be cared for, but the very systems that they were hurt by would be brought towards healing.

And the church itself would be more than a building... more than an organization. It would be an environment of people and God - worship and relationships - humility and service - unlike any other. The neighborhoods, communities, and region would know that God was doing something special in and through this mysterious union of the ordinary and the extraordinary because of the 7-day of the week kind of impact it had inside and outside the building.

  • Inside the building, the church would be a biblically-founded worship community where church leadership and volunteers worked together to proclaim a fresh breath of Life from the Word.
    • Messages would be Scripture based, life-applicable, and engaging to the regional culture. Out of our desire to allow the sacred, holy, living words of Scripture breathe hope into lives we would do everything creatively possible and appropriate to help others share in the digesting of timeless, life-changing Truths.
    • Hard questions would be raised, godly counsel and direction would be given, and intentional recognition of God’s mystery and majesty would be in play.
    • Music would be a catalyst and a culmination for praise and worship that happened every day of the week in each person's life.
    • God-inspired surrender would be a regular occurrence, as would a regular sharing of stories of those whom we were communicating Christ to. This would be modeled in the senior leaders' transparency and humility... not in strategic charisma or emotional manipulation on any level.
    • People would feel like they were seen... actually seen... and valued for who they were and not what number they represented. Visitors would be invited back; attenders would be invited up; members and leaders would be invited to invite others.
    • Staff would be loved for who they are not what they do. They would feel appreciated, empowered, invested into, and a part of a team where they serve in the unique way God has wired them up. There would be freedom for each individual to grow “out loud” in their journey with Jesus Christ and not feel in any way that they had to pretend to be someone they were not.
    • Prayer would be a natural conversation we had about everything we did, be it the everyday elements we were keeping after to the God-sized risks of faith that took us even more frequently to our knees. These risks would be prayed up, thought through, and still a bit messy so that it would only succeed if God was in them. (And if things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would, we would celebrate the learning curve without fear of job security and thank God for the process.)
    • God-inspired life change would be a regular occurrence, as would people active in serving as life changers who communicate Christ as best as they know how.
    • Stewardship of time, abilities, and resources wouldn’t be held back but extended as each person found they couldn’t help but give back to God all that He has given them.

Outside of the building, we would still be the church, for when we left it we would still internalizing truths… still investing in each other… still taking the next step. Because the church is not a building but it is made up of people and God… people who are committed to the Lord and a Lord who is committed to them.

    • The Kingdom of God is within you!They would continue to grow with Him, regularly giving up habits and sin. This would not be to appease a sense of guilt or look more “Christian.” Rather, it would be because they ARE Christians – Christ-followers who want to surrender that much more themselves as they die to self and live for Him. Each person would develop a desire to say yes to God more quickly today than they did yesterday.
    • Relationships would exist where people agreed not to pretend to be someone they were not. This would happen Christian to Christian through accountability and community, as well as Christian to pre-Christian (because that’s the way we would see the lost and broken) as a way to show people we are real people interacting with a real God. Confession and encouragement would be reliable staples where we would look for ways to help the other to grow in health spiritually, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.
    • Those a part of the church would engage in intentional ministry that happened out of the overflow of their hearts. They would find ways to raise questions in others by extending the grace they have experienced for themselves. They would willingly be contagious in their faith – not because they took a class, but because they can’t help it. Courageous risks of conversation would become the norm, with each person taking daily risks to communicate their faith.
    • We wouldn’t quit until everyone is in the Kingdom and on board. That includes the homes, region, states, countries, and continents of this entire world. Missions and evangelism wouldn't be another sets of programs.. they would be the exhale of our soul.

I believe that this is the kind of church that pleases God...
and this is what is in my heart.

To be a servant-leader in a church that measures success:

  • By weight... the quality of a relationship with God.
  • By sacrifice... the growth curve of Christ-like character.
  • By authenticity... the transparency of community.
  • By communication... the willingness for us to communicate the Gospel regardless of competence.

And in the end.. the Church would have invaded the church.

    Dear Lord... may my growing love for You become a growing love for others and Your Church. Show me how to join You in what You're already doing. Let the change I am burdened by begin in me then flow out as (super)naturally as possible. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Summers said...

Hey Tony,

It is great to look inside 'your' heart. Through this series and along with your 'other' blog...I am intrigued by your thoughts, insights, research, and passion.
Thanks for your authenticity, looking forward to entering into your future posts!

Tim said...

Wow. Man. So much there. That's totally beautiful. And I believe that not only is it your heart and your dream, it's the heart of God.