Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bringing New Life to Congregations

In response to a Sioux Falls Seminary Facebook group question.

To bring new life to congregations they must see Jesus lifted up... John 3:14-15 So how is that accomplished? Two ways.

1) Christ is/was lifted up without our doing anything. 2000 years ago... He accomplished everything needed for any congregation at the cross. [Lent drives us towards Good Friday does it not?] So in the first sense a congregation need to understand that, without any new mission statement, ministry, or service project, they already have anything and everything they need for mission, ministry, and service. cf. the words of Paul to the (really, really, messed up) congregation in Corinth:
"For in [Christ] you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1 Corinthians 1:5-9
Everything new in a congregation is a work of the Son.

2) The second way to bring new life to congregations is to orient them towards the One who provides life. A congregation must "see" Jesus lifted up. And nowadays we can only see Christ through the scripture (Old and New Testaments). [Good Friday leads to Easter's empty tomb and Easter to the Ascension's clouds]
No church can be transformed without the Gospel of the Glory of Christ. Again St. Paul to the Corinthians:
"We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit... For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:6
We are transformed by reflecting what we see of God's glory and that glory is most clearly seen in the face of Christ.
God won't speak to your church outside of Christ. Christ is not revealed outside of scripture.

(For another time maybe: If we understand congregation life to be the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit to the Glory of the Father does this mean that God the Father only works exclusively through Christ and the Spirit in the local church? i.e. Our talk about God's plan, God's guidance, God's mission, absolutely must include talk about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. )

No comments: