Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why I am Reluctant to Promote the Church I Love

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

I love the Contact Church of Christ. I love my friends whose lives are changing as they follow Jesus. I love to see them reaching out to others, serving others, loving others, and sharing the message of Christ with others. They inspire me.

However, I try to refrain from bragging about the church to people who do not know much about us. Sometimes I fail, but I hold back a ton of positive information about the church.

I have come to realize a couple of important concepts that have led me to refrain from promoting the church very much.

First, our message is about Jesus Christ. He is more important. He is essential. We are incidental. When we talk about ourselves, we should be merely examples of his grace and forgiveness. Whatever good is accomplished in us or by us should be seen as coming from our Savior.

Second, people don't believe the hype about us anyway. A few years ago, I was engaged in a casual conversation with a co-worker when the topic of churches came up. Without knowing anything about my church background, she interrupted. "Don't tell me anything about your church," she said. "I don't want to hear it. Everyone thinks their church is the best." A little stunned and not wishing to argue, I asked her about her church background. She had been a very active member of a church that she considered the best around. She was always telling others about how good her church was. Then she was mistreated by the leadership and became disillusioned with churches. She stopped believing the hype, and I could not blame her. Nearly 15 years ago, I was forced to leave an abusive church situation, too.

Today, I try to make my conversations focus more on how good Christ is, rather than how good the church is. When I mention the church, I am more likely to let people know how we can help them with something (food, emergency money, drug addiction recovery, parenting classes, etc.), instead of asking them to attend services with us. (Strangely enough, they have been known to show up anyway.)

I have much to learn, but I know this: I am an imperfect Christian in an imperfect church loved by a perfect God.

8 comments:

newheights said...

Terry,

Great post and something for me to think about.

Hey, Contact sounds like an outwardly focused church that wants to impact the community. If you wouldn't mind could you take a look at handsandfeet.ning.com?

It is a site where people can share ideas and inspiration in the context of being Christ in the world we live in.

Good thoughts.

Darin

Terry said...

Darin,
Thanks for the comments. I'll be checking out the web site soon. I appreciate the info.

Bob, Sarah, and Miriam Logsdon said...

Terry, keep posting. I love your reflective nature. Thanks for mentioning our blog on one of your other posts. If you keep posting, I'll keep reading...

Terry said...

Thanks, Bob and Sarah. I was glad to link to your blog post a few days ago. Your hearts for people cannot be hidden. I would love for others to get to know you a little more (even if only on the Internet). You have a special ministry.

Mike said...

Terry,

Thank you. You sumed things up very well. I am tired of hearing about "this church" or "that Church", you know the one with the best pastor and the best worship.

Yep, it is all about Jesus.

Terry said...

Thanks, Mike. My friend at work opened my eyes to a blind spot in my life. At that point, I knew that I had the wrong priorities. I was preparing to help her get closer to Christ when her response made me re-evaluate myself and realize that I had been wrong in placing more emphasis on the church than on Jesus. She helped me in ways she may never know, since I lost contact with her when she moved on to another job in another city.

Jimmy Clare said...

Terry
I preach in a small congregation in Northeast Oklahoma (Kansas)...I feel your pain about lifting up the church and not Christ. What would be without Him? Where would our lives be if He never came? I would much rather preach sermons about how Christ has changed the world instead of why "my church" is better than theirs.
Good post
JC

Terry said...

Thanks for reading, Jimmie! I wish your ministry the best.