Thursday, February 7, 2008

The passion of Christ and his Father

"'The passion of Christ and his Father is to reach a lost world. For a pastor to embrace this same passion is to make him appear suspect in the best of evangelical churches.'

When I share this conviction around the country at pastors' conferences, I find unanimous agreement and identification with this statement. After all, it is 'shallow teaching' that reaches the lost, while mature believers need the 'deeper truths' that they hire pastors to deliver. And who's for being shallow instead of deep?

'It's unacceptable to leave the ninety-nine to look for the lost. Church members are very forbearing and forgiving regarding the neglect of the lost; while extremely impatient and unforgiving regarding the neglect of the righteous.'

Think of a continuum on which the left end represents an extremely effective 'home' function of a church, and the right end represents an extremely effective 'mission' function. After journaling these thoughts, I decided to evaluate the church I pastor in light of this continuum. Believing a healthy and balanced church would find its X placed in the center, I had to honestly admit that our X was placed well left of center -- being far more effective as a home to God's people than as a mission to the unchurched.

Through the years, we have had numerous people leave our church feeling that their needs as believers had not been met, and frankly, many of them had legitimate complaints. Yet what grieves me the most is that never during those years has anyone so much as complained about our ineffectiveness as a mission. Many have left for personal reasons; none have departed because we failed to care for the lost. When have you ever lost a member because your church was failing to effectively reach the lost?"

Randy Pope, The Prevailing Church, pages 32-33.