I read something that disturbed me earlier this week.
The headline (what disturbed me): The Executive Board of the MBC has voted to block funding for Acts 29 church plants, according to Scott Lamb.
The comment (which I am agreeing with) – “Brilliant. Anyone who would block funding for a church plant that looked like Darrin Patrick’s gospel-centered and biblically-faithful Journey Church in St. Louis isn’t biblically-faithful. It’s really that simple. [From Reformissionary blog. I’ll have some quotes and links following in another post for anyone interested in the story in more depth.]
As I read Steve’s post, I admit that I was mad…frustrated…but not sad. It seems that this kind of thing is fairly normal – groups and denominations squabbling over minor details, and failing to uphold the common denominators and mission we have as the church, representing God and influencing the world.
Been there. Done that. What else have you got?
So when I read that the Missouri Baptist Convention is withdrawing all funding to Acts 29 church because of their “open handed” position towards alcohol (as opposed to having a clear cut policy for prohibition), my first reaction is one of animosity, not ambivalence. I’m really not shocked or surprised.
Are you? Read Matt. 23:23-24 then give me your answer.
No my first response is not of amazement at such a reality. Perish the thought that anything different might be possible! My first reaction is one of anger, and I am tempted to just stay there and let it fester.
But as I entertain that thought, I have to ask myself why am I really angry? When I ask this, I see my self peeling back a layer of my thoughts to see that really I am so angry because I’m scarred. I’m scarred because deep down what I’m really wondering is:
Is there any safe place?
Is there any place in the future for someone who wants to plant a church, with a goal towards living out their life of faith in the midst of the world around them (i.e. missional), within the already established denominations and groups of the evangelical world? Maybe I’m too worried about the “already established denominations and groups,” but that is my spiritual heritage. I don’t know how not to be concerned about this.
You have to pick your battles.
Scott Lamb writes: “This polarizes the issue of Acts 29 to the point that it is hard to be able to give any critique or praise of the movement at all. To be sure, there are some of both that any movement rightfully deserves. However, a misguided motion like this just makes the battle lines get laid down in all the wrong places.” (from 12.11.07 post; click here).
I read a story like this and I am faced with the seemingly uphill battle of convincing those who should be most for missionally minded churches, that they are actually a good thing, and not a threat to the establishment, just because they look, feel and maybe do things differently then what’s been done before. I’m staring down the eye of the reality before me, where sometime over my Christmas break from seminary, I’ll have to two conversations with people in my denomination regarding my choice of where I’m attending church while in seminary, because it isn’t our denomination’s church. Yet, its the place where my family and I have connected with God and with His people the most, and its a place where God’s kingdom is advancing and people are coming into a right relationship with God, and churches are being planted.
Yeah, its called the Journey. The same church that “sparked” the controversy between Acts 29 and the MBC.
I wonder if when Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles,” (John 16:33a), he was referring to the seemingly endless infighting that’s going on? As a guy who wants to enter into ministry, I’m faced weekly with the reality that there are so many fights to be had, but only so much energy.
A time to throw down, not lie down!
So when I’m faced with my fear of there being no place in the future for guys like me, I need to remind myself the rest of the story. That yes in this world we will have troubles, “but take heart, for I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33b). So if I’m going to throw down, its going to be on the side of Jesus, whose ultimate fight is to build His church, against the gates of hell, and even against the straining infighting of those who should know what is of greater importance in the eyes our redeeming and reigning King. But this fight is one of faith, not of hands and strength.
Its a fight to believe in the promises of God.
Its a fight to believe that He is our provision in our times of need.
Its a fight to trust in His goodness, mercy and grace, when we’re anxious and scared.
Its a fight of faith to believe what King Jesus says:
“And I tell you, your are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:33)