|Window, in Columbus, Ohio|
Many years ago a church in our county advertised itself as "The Friendliest Church in America." In all of America?! When this advertisement appeared in our local paper I wanted to proclaim, "We're #2!"
Recently I read that another area church's basic mission was to be "friendly."
I think that's commendable.
"Loving" is probably better than "friendly." Both are better than "happy." ("The Happiest Church in America?" I doubt it.) But these are NOT the mission of the Church.
Richard Stearns has it correct. He writes:
"In all my years as a Christian, I have listened to thousands of sermons, and I can’t remember even one that fully explained to me that the central mission of Christ and the purpose he gave to his church was to proclaim, establish, and build God’s kingdom on earth. Nor have I ever heard that the sole purpose of my life as a follower of Jesus is to join him in this mission; that this is the very reason I was created. Somehow that baby got thrown out with the bathwater in my Christian education." (Stearns, Unfinished, pp. 56-57)
This is shocking, since Stearns, as the head of World Vision, has experienced global Christianity like few have. It's also eye-opening since all we've been preaching and teaching at Redeemer over the past fifteen years is Jesus and the Kingdom. Preach through the four gospels, as we did for seven years, and you'll see the "kingdom of God" all over the place.
The idea of the kingdom of God is the hermeneutical key to understanding the Real Jesus. Read the gospels for yourself and see.
"Most American Christians," writes Stearns, "have embraced a diminished view of the fullness of the gospel, or good news, of the story and message of Christ." (Ib., p. 58)
"Unfinished might just challenge everything you thought you understood about your Christian faith...If every Christian read this book and took it seriously, the world would never be the same again."
—Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
My new book is: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.