I was speaking to the leader of a church network recently and during our conversation he said: ‘I like you. You say you’re outward focused and you really are. Some people say they are outward focused but in reality they’re not!’
I’ve been musing on our conversation quite a bit since then. It’s obviously great that he likes me but that wasn’t what struck me. I was struck by his observation that many leaders were claiming to be something they are not.
This struck me for two reasons:
1. Since when did it become OK for Christians to claim to be something they are not?
2. Why do so many people focus inward on the church instead of outward to their communities?
When I became a Christian it’d be fair to say my family weren’t overly thrilled. My mum thought all Christians were hypocrites. She told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t mind me being a Christian but ‘don’t you dare be a hypocrite…’ I knew that if she ever caught me saying I was something I wasn’t – I’d be in big trouble.
Tozer once said: ‘the church began in power, moved in power and moved as long as she had power. When she no longer had power she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains!’ Unfortunately, I think Tozer is right – too many of us are simply digging in for safety and trying to maintain what we’ve got; rather than working hard to see the Kingdom come.
Last year I went to the 15th Anniversary celebration for an organisation that does amazing work with marginalised young people in London. About 400 people attended this celebration. On the other side of London 3,250 people had gathered for a worship event to pray for revival.
I have to confess that I did wonder what would happen if those 3,250 people joined the organisation I was with as volunteers. I wondered if they’d see revival come if they actually got involved instead of – just – attending conferences and events.
I think that a vibrant faith includes risk taking, adventure, sacrifice and the willingness to be the answer to your own prayers. You’d expect to me to say that I think that attending events and conferences are great things to do. But if they ever become a replacement for getting involved in our communities or churches we’ve got a massive problem.
A church leader friend of mine told me recently that he wants to see revival come to his town. While he and his church are waiting and praying for that to happen they are working to ‘revive’ their town. They run a free festival every summer; school breakfast clubs every day and a whole host of other community activities. They are being the answer to their own prayers… and their town is noticing the difference.
So come on let’s be what we supposed to be – look outward, get involved, take a few risks and see what God does with us.
Stuff to think about…
Why do you think that some Christians find it easier to be inward focused rather than outward focused?
Have you ever fallen into this way of thinking?