Posts tagged ‘organization’

August 1, 2012

Missions

by pastortimfowler

 

Mission – a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work. Does that not sound awkward? Maybe it is the use of the word propagate, which means to spread, or maybe it is the use of the term religious organization, which could mean anything if you think about it. Sometimes definitions of words bother me and why I get into looking them up is beyond me, but for some reason I do.
When I was younger I use to watch Mission Impossible, the TV show. They were not a religious organization. I use to watch war movies and they would talk about “the mission” that they were on. I used the term, “I am a man on a mission” several times prior to becoming a Christian. Usually it was focused on finding a party or finding a girl or both. All of the examples I gave were to some degree exciting and challenging and even dangerous, especially the girl hunting. So I understand the term and what its root meaning is, and it fits in well with what God has called Christians to do, but, we are not all acting like we have a mission that is exciting and challenging and rarely dangerous.
This whole missions thing is on my mind lately because of my recent trip to Cuba and the fact that my friend from the Philippines will be here this week. Going to Cuba is exciting and challenging and even a bit dangerous. If things go well I will be going to the Philippines too, and that will be exciting and challenging and dangerous. My friend left his family in the Philippines to come here for a few months and they are in an area that recently had a major earthquake it is not uncommon to get typhoons through there this time of year. Why do people do this? Because it is needed.
Much like a soldier has a mission or a secret agent has a mission, God has given Christians a mission. We are to go into the whole world and preach the good news. Yep, the Philippines, and Cuba and Africa and Rock Hill and New York and Los Angeles and, well everywhere. No one said it had to be a foreign country, we are just supposed to go.
Some people think when Jesus said, “go”, that He meant to church on Sunday. Sorry; not what He was talking about. He meant to go where ever there are hurting people who need to know Jesus. Going to church is not what we are called to do. It is important to go to church. I like to think of it as the pit stop in the race. The race is out on the track driving as fast as possible to win, but from time to time you have to pull into the pits to get fuel, tires, and a cool drink of water. This is a short pause with the intent of getting you back out on the racetrack trying to win. Missions is the race, church is the pits.
Maybe you find it nearly impossible to go to a place like Cuba or the Philippines, but everyone goes to the grocery store. Kids go to school and parents go to work, and sometimes we get to go the beach or the mountains. Where ever we go we are on a mission. We are out to show Jesus and God’s love to whoever we come in contact with. It doesn’t mean we sit everyone down and give them the old “Bible beat down”, but we can help someone at the grocery store who may be overloaded and have kids, or we can help that new kid at school who doesn’t have a friend yet, or we can fill in for that co-worker who needs to be with a sick child. We can always be that shoulder to lean on or that ear to listen and that can go a long way into sharing the love of Christ with those who need it.
Some of you are thinking that this doesn’t sound exciting or challenging, and certainly not dangerous. If this is what you are thinking, you must ask yourself, what is more exciting or challenging and sometimes dangerous, than sharing the love of God with someone, no matter where they are? Why do we have to be in another country to do what God has called us and allows us to do anywhere? Maybe you are looking back at the definition and thinking that you have not been commissioned by a religious organization to propagate you faith. That is probably a good thing. Because Jesus should be and is the one who has commissioned His people to go into all the world. But if you think that you need an organization to commission you too, talk to your church and your pastor about it and I am sure they will agree with Jesus and say, GO!

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June 6, 2012

Cliques

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maandag/2881628357/

I am not sure why I am blogging about a word that I had to look up in order to spell it properly. I want to spell it the way it sounds, click, but NOOOOO, it has to be spelled like a french word or something. Anyway, I was reading in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 today about a problem that the early church was having when people got together in small groups and started being exclusive to the point of being snobbish. This is how the Apostle Paul states it, 1 Corinthians 11:18, In the first place, I hear that when you gather as a church you split up into opposing groups. I believe some of what I hear. I hear from people all the time about their dislike of cliques, especially in the church and how rude they think it can be. So I got to thinking about what this really is and how did it come to be in an organization like the church where we are to love each other as brothers and sisters.
There is a huge difference in a clique and a small group, as most churches call there Bible studies and fellowship groups. Small groups are very biblical and are important to the Christian life. The average Sunday morning church attendance in the US is 75 people. That sounds low, but there are far more small churches than there are mega churches. It is not uncommon in many rural areas to have only 10 to 20 in attendance on any give Sunday. From that, the average small group consists of 5-8 people. Many try to make their small group the largest in a church, but that begins to get into the topic that Paul wrote about in the verse above.
Most people only have between 2 and 8 people in their lives that they can call real friends. I am talking about people that they socialize with on a regular basis and have more than a casual relationship like you see in most churches. Most people who attend church together only see each other on Sunday morning. Fewer than half of the people who attend on Sunday morning will attend a small group of any type related to the church. It is one of the reasons for the decline of church attendance if you ask me. Before every family had a car and most lately 2 and 3 cars per household, it was most likely that someone attending church was going to a local house of worship with fellow family members and folks that farmed or worked in the same community. This meant that they really knew each other and were able to better help in times of need. It also meant that relationships were more than superficial.
So the small group was started by Jesus who picked 12 disciples to teach and hang out with regularly. Then the modern church started Sunday school classes for age appropriate classes and even had male and female and married couples and singles classes. It was very common to have one class have the patriarchal family members in it that class and it became the class that had the most pull when it came to decisions in the church. This was never the intent of Jesus when He started a small group, but that is how we came to the point of having cliques. It is those cliques that cause people to become divisive and others to feel like they don’t fit in, not only to a small group, but to a church.
I love small groups. It is a great place to hang out with people who I can get close to. People who share my struggles as a parent, husband, or whatever my uniqueness is that draws us to that group. It is not a clique to have a group of guys who like to fish, hanging out together on a regular basis. It is a clique if those guys think that they are more special than another group and begin to make it impossible for anyone else to ever fit in with them.
I have been able to bring people to my small group who did not yet feel comfortable coming to Sunday morning worship. Through the small group they have made friends and found it easier to then come for the regular worship time. That is one of the great purposes that every small group should be striving for. We do have some groups that are a little more exclusive by the nature of what they are talking about. Our recovery classes help people with addictions and although I think that they would make someone feel welcome, it would just not be appropriate for someone who does not have an addiction they need help with. That is not a clique.
So if you have small groups in your church, use them as a tool to welcome others and never to exclude. If your small group is excluding others just because they don’t want new people, it might be time to change groups or even churches. There are a lot of great churches out there and we should never let a bad experience stop us from making friends or attending worship on a regular basis.