Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Church's Primary Focus Is Not on Meeting People’s Needs

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At Redeemer our primary focus, our distinctive, is God and his presence. Other things, while important, are secondary. Such as, meeting people’s needs. 

We believe the greatest need humanity has is the Lord. 

I recall the Steve Green song “People Need the Lord.” It moved me. I affirmed the theology behind it, and felt God’s presence as I worshiped by it. Are my deepest needs met in God’s presence? Yes. Because what I primordially need is God.

Some churches focus on meeting the individual needs of people as their raison d-etre, their way of life. Everything gets oriented towards this. This is a mistake, and makes solving conflict more difficult. James van Yperen writes: 

“In many churches, the remedy for conflict often makes it worse, deepening the problem by failing to address the fundamental issue: We are trusting our ways more than God’s. All individualism leads to consumerism. When self is center, the world exists to meet one’s personal needs. “Hey, I’m entitled to this!” A culture of consumerism will always value individual needs above community life. “You’re important to me so long as you serve my needs.When a church focuses on meeting the needs of individuals, Jesus and the Bible become a personal, need-meeting machine. The church becomes a collection of individuals who are fundamentally at competition with one another—competing to have their needs met. Here, the Gospel becomes a commodity distributed by supply and demand. Since no church can meet all the needs, ultimately one set of needs must be placed against the other. When this happens, staff and members will compete to make a case for how and why their needs are greater than others…. [T]he church becomes divided into interest groups or coalitions formed by age and individual preference.” (Van Yperen, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, p. 30)

A presence-driven church is not a shopping center where we pick and choose what is good for us. Instead, the overwhelming, primary focus is God. God comes before us. God, before me. I decrease, so that he might increase. All my deepest needs are met in Christ.

- From John Piippo, Leading the Presence-Driven Church (Kindle Locations 1374-1393).