Her: What did they ask you?
Me: They wanted to know my vision for the church. What did they ask you?
Her: They wanted me to tell them what your vision was for the church.
The same question came from so many different people and in so many different settings I concluded the question had to be coordinated, not intentionally probably, but coordinated in some way by a strong voice or group of people.
Brenda and I were visiting the small group of Baptists in South St. Paul, Minnesota, who were looking for their next pastor. Among the wide array of queries that came my way, the repeated question was, “What’s your vision for the church?”
Prior to meeting the search committee and the people of the church, I had been to Minnesota exactly once in the whole of my life. I spent an afternoon at the Como Zoo before leaving the land of hot dishes and “You betcha’s.” Neither Brenda nor I knew a soul in Minnesota nor much about the state beyond its claim to 10,000 lakes and its then current governor, who turned out to be a better pro wrestler than leader of the state’s executive branch.
I had no substantive answer to their recurrent question. How could I? I knew nothing of the community, little of the church’s history, and virtually nothing about the church’s resources and gifts. But that was more than seventeen year ago. Fast forward to today.
None of you needs me to tell you how broken our world is. From...
- The shocking revelations of sexual abuse by priests of the Church of Rome to
- The heartbreak of a murdered college coed to
- The strangulations of a mother and her children at the hands of a parent to
- The senseless death by her own hand of a fourteen-year-old girl to
- The bullying middle school boys and girls will receive over the next two weeks to
- The growing epidemic of opioid addiction to
- The quest for identity and acceptance in gender fluidity to
- Women who kill their babies in their wombs to
- Fathers who abandon their women and children to
- Tensions between ethnicities rising to levels that must soon burst from pressure to
- The astonishing and horrifying sexualization of our culture and our economy, and
- So much more,
We conclude our world is broken.
Is there any place a broken person can turn for help?
Is there anyone who cares enough to love another broken human?
Can someone provide hope why any of us should seek to live one more minute in this mess?
Is there a real, genuine safe place where a woman or man looking to offload their burden can find relief?
As I read the New Testament, I conclude Jesus intended for a church, a local group of Christians who covenant together to follow the teachings, ordinances, and commands of Jesus, to be the place where other broken human beings find the help they need.
We have in our possession the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that mends broken people. We can love broken people because we were loved when we were broken. We can offer hope to broken people because Jesus offered hope to us when we were broken. We can show how to find relief from the burden of sin because the burden of sin we once carried no longer rests on our shoulders.
We once were broken too, but not any longer.
Yes, we still battle against all the stuff that comes from living in a broken world, but we are not broken. Jesus changed who we are and what we are when he saved us by his work on his cross.
In the days, months, and years he gives us as we anticipate being with him - where no brokenness of any kind exists - we search for other broken human beings to help and we welcome every broken human being looking for healing.
Would you sacrifice time, comfort, money, ease, and the American Dream to help other broken people? Would you be a local church that stands with outstretched arms receiving any and all expressions of brokenness? Would you be a local church that goes out and finds broken people wherever they might be and deliver to them healing in Jesus’s name?
Me: Want to hear my vision for our church?
Her: Sure, what do you have?
Me: Your brokenness welcome here.
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.