Why THE Church Must Be Bigger Than YOUR Church
Sitting this week at the first board meeting of the Shine Like Sable Foundation, I was struck by a fact I don’t remember often enough.
The church must be bigger than my church.
That is, God’s work through his people is larger than God’s work through my congregation. All of us would admit this as we thought about church plants on the other side of town or missions established the other side of the globe. But I’m thinking about something sometimes more difficult to embrace: The work of the church in my community must be bigger than the work of my congregation here.
Shine Like Sable is the foundation started by Scott and Holly Gibson after the tragic death of their 10-year-old daughter, Sable, this February. Her spirit of seeking to help others will be continued and multiplied as the foundation finds ways to help other children in need.
As I thought about the work of the foundation, I jotted down several conclusions.
We’re truly better together.
Paul Taylor, pastor at River’s Crossing church in Mason was at the meeting, along with several others from that congregation. Brady Templeton, a member of Christ’s Church where I preach, was there too. The whole goal of the meeting was how the work of the foundation can shine a light on those living in a darkness that is exactly opposite of the light of Christ. It’s a work bigger than the mission of any one congregation, a work that can be embraced by Christians in any church.
I remembered again that the best idea isn’t always my idea or our church’s idea. The best idea is the one that points people to Jesus. With so many in our community who need him, we can get together on ideas like that.
We need each other now more than ever.
In this moment, in this culture, on many fronts the church is losing. Too often the church has positioned itself in a way that seems totally irrelevant to many people. We can change that, but only if we work together.
• The church down the street is not the enemy. The devil is the enemy.
• The church down the street is not what we’re trying to destroy. We’re trying to destroy the effects of the devil’s work. But by getting us to fight each other, Satan is convincing the culture to dismiss the church. When that happens, he’s the winner.
• The church down the street is not “stealing sheep.” They’re saving souls too. We can rejoice with every Christ-follower’s efforts to do that.
We can’t claim unity in our local body if we won’t claim unity with other bodies.
Too often our attitude —and sometimes our actions—toward other congregations demonstrate the opposite of unity. One of my mentors, Cal Jernigan, once said to me, “A lot of people will go to hell because we can’t get along with each other.” Too many pastors care more about their church than about THE church. Until that changes, God’s work in our world will suffer.
But I’m enthused and hopeful about the future. The Shine Like Sable Foundation is a good example of how differences can be minimized and common values can be expressed. Most of all it shows me why and how the church must always be bigger than my church.