What If?

What If?

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

In a recent session with a couple other staff members where we were talking about RiverWalk and the future of the congregation, the following two thoughts were brought out of the conversation. They deserve to be expanded and considered.

1. What if we as a congregation were content with who we are instead of longing to be like other churches, trying to be something we are not.
2. What would it look like if we interpreted Scripture which talks about the Body of Christ, with each one being a part of the body with a certain function…arm, foot, tongue, hand, etc…and each performing his function instead of longing to be something else…what if we interpreted that scripture on a congregational level rather than on an individual level? “There are many congregational organisms, but one body…and each organism has a part to play in that body. Some congregations are hands. Some are eyes. Some are feet. Each has been given gifts of service as Christ has determined.” What if??

Looking at the two statements above, I am struck by their similarity. They may look different on the surface, but they drill down to a common theme. Let’s see if we can flesh out that theme and make some sense of these words.
By content, I don’t mean satisfied. I mean content in the sense that Paul uses the word in Philippians 4:12. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Yes, we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Yes, we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we continue to love one-another as Christ loves us. Yes, we share in the unity of the Spirit in Jesus Christ. But we should not, as a church, strive to be something that God has not intended for us to be. That is what I mean by “content.”
We look at our growth numbers and our location in Wichita and sometimes become discouraged that we aren’t growing into a 600 member church, or that we are not in a suburban setting. We become disillusioned by the continual presence of the homeless outside our door and the needs that just they present to us. We become disheartened when we have events at the apartments and only a few people show up or answer the door.
Perhaps God is not calling us to the suburbs. Perhaps God is not calling us to be a 600 member congregation. Perhaps God is calling us to serve the people who are now surrounding us…here at 225 N Waco. Perhaps God wants us to be a “small” church…one where we know everyone else…one where love abounds…one where generosity is the word of the day, every day. Perhaps God wants us to serve the homeless, befriend the apartment dwellers, and love the Franklin children.
When we look at I Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the body of Christ and the idea that we are members of it, we normally think of an individual congregation and each person who is a member of that congregation being part of the body. We think of that in terms of us all having different talents and abilities…thus all being different parts of the body.
What if we expanded that thought to take in the idea that there are many churches who are part of the body of Christ, and each church…each congregational organism…is a member of that body with its own unique abilities and function within the greater body.
Some churches do very well in evangelizing young people. Other churches do well in the suburbs and with families. Still others work with the unique needs of a downtown area. And yet others are very talented in serving the physical and emotional needs of both members and non-members.
Do we as a church need to begin to recognize what talents and abilities God has entrusted to us and what He expects of us as a church to do with those abilities? Do we need to be content to be a church located at 225 N Waco, with a mission to the apartments, Franklin Elementary, the homeless, and the needy? Do we need to accomplish that mission to the very best of our ability, trusting God to provide what we need to partner with Him to fulfill that mission?
I am becoming more and more convinced that, as a church, we need to concentrate on what we do well, and continue to do it to the best of our ability, asking God for strength, wisdom, and guidance in the ministries he has chosen for us. We dare not look at other members of the body with even a hint of jealousy or a desire to do what they are doing. To continually look at the Body of Christ with a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality is to spurn what God has chosen for us and covet something which does not belong to us.
In the same light, to look at the Body of Christ as consisting ONLY of our local congregation or perhaps other Churches of Christ is likewise foolish, unproductive, and vain. We are not the final arbiters of who is in and who is out. We have not, as a denomination (yes, I used that term to refer to ourselves), arrived at spiritual perfection. It’s time we saw the body of Christ for what it is, and not what we think we’d like for it to be. Jesus Christ knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t need us to help him reign over his kingdom. He’s got this. And the sooner we recognize the true breadth & depth of his kingdom, understand just what his kingdom is and who is in it, find our place in it and begin to joyously serve in the capacities he has asked us to serve in, the better.

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