“Community is the lab where you see who you really are.” This week on Advent Next Video podcasts continuing our conversation with Dr. Gerardo Oudri and exploring how to think more holistically about mission and outreach as well as explore the importance of community.
It might be easy to see ourselves as loving and kind if we lived on an island all by ourselves. However, when we exist in close intimate spaces with other human beings, the heart, mind, and character are tested. While living life with others it becomes painfully apparent just how selfish we can be at times. Living in community helps to reveal the areas of our life where we need personal growth and self-sacrifice.
“The church can be the perfect place to hide your true identity.” As one of my favorite quotes from the show today, this statement highlights one of the misfortunate symptoms of holding to a purely “functional” approach to the way we do church. For example, if as a community we are more focused on behavior or the number of attendees or saying the “right things,” or having the “right” kinds of programs, we limit the scope of what our mission as a church truly is. If the church was created to help God fulfill His mission to restore the image of God in humanity, then there are a plethora of creative ways that we can approach this effort without being too narrow-minded or married to tradition.
“The problem is that sometimes we use the name ‘Jesus,’ but we’re not really gathering ‘in Christ’ in the fullest sense.” A lack of authenticity in our worship is one reason we see so many young people leaving the institution of the church and creating “church” that looks and feels more genuine. So what does it mean to be a church? If we are gathering in the name of Jesus, but are not truly gathering in the most authentic sense where there is true transparency, vulnerability, flexibility, and grace, then it’s possible that we might be our own worst enemies as far outreach is concerned.
“In Jesus’ time, many of the Pharisees were preaching the ‘right things,’ but many of them were outsiders in the end.” It’s a scary thought, but one thing we can learn from the Pharisees is that it is possible to know all the right answers and still flunk the test. We may know how to talk a good church game, but unless we have a real sense of the gospel and a strong sense of who Jesus is along with experiential knowledge of His grace, it could all be for nothing.
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