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why do we… (part 4)

March 10, 2009

Why do we focus on just three main things at The Bridge?

This is going to be a long post – fair warning! – because it’s so important and sometimes confusing to people who have grown up in the American church.

One of the purest things about The Bridge right now is its simplicity.  We want people to gather with the church corporately on Sundays for theologically-driven worship and preaching.  We want people relationally involved with the family of Christ in home groups.  We want people living missional lives to the world.

That’s it.  No RA’s, GA’s, Acteens, WMU meetings, softball teams, or the other 40 things (and good things!) usually on the church schedule.  Here’s why…

1)  The Bridge schedules missional living.  If you’ve got a Bible, check out two verses: Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1.  In the first one Jesus says the church is supposed to GO.  For the next eight chapters the church STAYS because it was really fun being together.  So in the second verse God brings persecution on the church so they HAVE to “scatter” into the lost world.  We haven’t changed at all; it will always be our tendency to want to huddle together instead of scattering for mission.

If I’ve got four nights per week booked with church services, a Bible Study of my choice, small group, and a softball team on top of all the non-church stuff I and my kids are involved in, I don’t have time to ask my friends who need Christ to come over for a cookout, to coach a little league baseball team and get to know lost families, or to sit on the porch and talk to my neighbors.  The nights The Bridge leaves open are open so that we have time to missionally build relationships with lost people around us.

2)  Family-oriented discipleship.  So you know I’m not making this up, check out Deuteronomy 6:20-25.  There’s a fundamental flaw in the way that a lot of Christians think about discipleship.  We fall into the trap of thinking more Bible information = more Christlikeness.  So we (for lack of a better phrase) program the crap out of our families with things that will get Bible information into ourselves and our kids.  In my lifetime I’ve been in Junior Bible Quiz, RA’s, Teen Bible Quiz, approximately 243 Bible studies, and 15 accountability groups.  You know what benefited me growing up in my discipleship more than those things?  Watching my Dad love his wife like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-26), waking up every morning and seeing my mom in her robe and slippers digging into God’s Word, and moment-by-moment discipleship and instruction from both of them.  If you’re a parent the Bible says that you are your Child’s best Children’s Pastor or your teenager’s best Youth Pastor.  We want you to have time with them and each other.

3) Stewardship.  Long story short because this post is already long.  There are three things that we think are the MOST essential things to us growing in Christ: gathering on Sunday, home groups, and missions efforts that facilitate non-local missional living.  Every time we add to those things that’s time, money, and leadership resources that are taken away from the MOST essential things and allocated to good, but less essential things.

Answers to some common reasons people think a church should be doing more programs:

  • REASON: “We should be doing Children’s Choir, Youth Choir, handbells, or [insert any music-related program here] because we have to teach these kids music.”
    • ANSWER: while music is obviously a good and God-given gift to us and we are commanded to sing praises to God in Scripture, the church is never commanded in Scripture to be a music school.  Teaching music to people is good, but it isn’t the Biblical responsibility of the church.
  • REASON: We should be doing more programs because they draw people in.
    • ANSWER: Jesus commanded Christians (individuals) to go and make disciples of all nations, not programs to “be implemented by the church and make disciples of all nations.”  While it isn’t a sin to use programs as an evangelistic tool, it’s not in line with the Bible’s pattern of people sharing the gospel with other people relationally.
  • REASON: We should be doing a puppet ministry, interpretive movement team, or [insert creative arts program here] because I need to be able to use my gift in the church.
    • ANSWER: honestly, the vast majority of the time someone thinks a church should be doing a program it boils down to that program accomplishing a good thing that isn’t the church’s Biblical responsibility to accomplish.  For instance, although IT IS a good and God-glorifying thing for someone to use their creative talents, The Bible doesn’t command the church to be a theater for Christians’ creative gifts.

__________

A quick word: If you’re in a church that does other things, don’t hear me saying they’re not good things because they are.  And don’t hear me saying that a church is wrong if they have 40 things on the schedule (a church I went to in college).  We’re just asking, “What’s the best way for us to accomplish theological-relational-missional living?”  And this is how we got to our conclusion.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Marlene permalink
    March 11, 2009 8:00 am

    Great synopsis Josh! We humans tend to become so “involved” in activities that we tend to lose focus on what those activities were meant to accomplish or we become so weary in doing those “things” that we miss the mark. It’s not a contest to see whose calendar is the fullest!
    We should focus on community-changing things that will make a difference for His kingdom. It’s all about “making it hard for people to get to Hell from Spring Hill” and moving those marbles!

  2. Eva Howard permalink
    March 11, 2009 11:05 am

    Josh, I couldn’t have said it better. That’s why you are the Pastor and i am not.

    I have found myself lately sharing God to total strangers and frequent people that are familiar to me from the grocery clerk that I go through her line each time to the person that maintains the car wash that I go to often. What we do at The Bridge is contagious and it is making an impact on each of us throughout Spring Hill, Thompsons Station and the world.

    Get on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!!!!!

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