Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unity

"Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity."

-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Interesting that, in this passage at least, Lewis is urging a "full" Christianity in a book about "mere" Christianity. What is a great paradox, I guess, is that by distilling the Christian religion to the essence of the Gospel, you end up filling it with as many disciples as possible. Everybody who's been doing the church thing long enough knows more "laws" equals fewer followers.

I recall at a BCC Vision Night a few years ago, either right before we moved onto the new campus or right after, Dr. Foster presented an awesome forecast of what the church could do and be on that sparkling sylvan landscape. While I don't think a church is where it's located, I love where we are -- it's basically literally a community set on a hill. And the vision given that night was of a church that shone like a beacon to the community at large, a place that was open nearly every day and offered service in practical ways to lots and lots of people.

At that time, I was thinking of course of what Willow Creek had become, with its vast array of resources and opportunities. They have a place set aside on campus so that by appointment, single moms and other underprivileged folks could bring their cars to be repaired for free. What a great and innovative way for today's church to do true religion!

I have to admit that the dream given that night sparked my own imagination. I love that we host A.A. and other recovery groups on our campus, being the only place nearby to offer such services to many folks. But I'd love to someday see community service classes or a cut-rate but quality education grade school. Maybe an actual park where families can come to picnic and play. Maybe we could host seminary extension classes. Maybe we could house a Goodwill-type store. Do we have a food pantry?

One of the things BCC gets so very right is community service. From counseling to the homeless mission to Habitat for Humanity to Toys for Tots to Angel Tree to our excellent Caregivers Ministry Team, we have lots and lots of folks who love and are gifted to serve. Wouldn't a full, campus-driven expansion of that ministry be awesome? Wouldn't it be incredible if our campus balanced programming with practical ministry so well that the place exploded with undeniable appeal to the down and downtrodden of our community?

By narrowing our purpose to "Gospel + nothing" we open up Hope Park to the very people who need hope the most. Not necessarily those who hope the service is good this week, but certainly to those hoping there's reason to live the other six days of the week.
There's so much that can divide us about how church can and should be done; let's seek unity in "Jesus Christ, hope for sinners."

13 Comments:

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unity is vital. That's why we should all love, instead of argue.

 
At 1:20 PM, Anonymous kw said...

I'm glad to see a post thats not so negative. Although I could have done without this comment in your last paragraph. "Not necessarily those who hope the service is good this week, but........" I can do without that kind of backhanded slap at DF. Dave did FAR MORE than produce a "good service" Keep working on being positive you are getting there!
keith

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Jared said...

KW, this is really getting aggravating. I've already said NUMEROUS TIMES that I liked Foster's preaching, that it's what attracted us to the church and part of what kept us.

The line you quote was not a backhanded slap at anybody. It was acknowledgment that churches like BCC can attract people who only want a weekend show, and an encouragement that we can do better than that.

You're seeing what you want to see, friend. The Cross-less Preaching thing wasn't even about Foster. I got up, wanted to post something, and found something about preaching the gospel on another blog from a guy who's never even heard of Foster. You know, until this post -- which mentions Foster POSITIVELY! -- the only people bringing him up are commenters. Not me.

I'm glad you think I'm "getting there," but my goal is not to craft KW-approved posts. It's to talk about what the church needs to talk about. I know you'd rather that not include stuff that bothers you (or "negative" stuff) but that's unavoidable.

I've stumped on hope and looking forward since the beginning. If you don't get that by now, I wonder if you really want to.

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous kw said...

Jared
One last post and I will leave you alone, for now. You are talking about what YOU think the church needs to talk about. Thats your opinion and you are entitled to it. But if you look at it from another point of view, say what a Pentecostal Church "thinks" a church should be talking about, then the posts would be different. All the different denominations believe that THEY have the right answers. Thats why there are so many different "interpretations" of the scripture. Who has the right interpretation? You? I agree with alot you say just not all. I think if you carefully and honestly read our previous posts, I think you will see that it is you that has insulted me not the other way around. If I have insulted you or your integrity, I am truly sorry. If I had your email address I would send you my comments direct and would not blog.
keith

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Jared said...

You are talking about what YOU think the church needs to talk about.

Agreed. That seems obvious to me, as well. The posts are by me and reflect my views; therefore, they are what I think the church needs to talk about.

But if you look at it from another point of view, say what a Pentecostal Church "thinks" a church should be talking about, then the posts would be different.

Um, well, okay. If I were a Buddhist, they'd look different too. Or a United Methodist. Or a Muslim.
But BCC is a non-denominational church with an evangelical statement of faith and mission. So I'm writing from the perspective of someone who falls into that grouping.
I agree that if I were a different sort of Christian and BCC were a different sort of church, the posts would read differently. I don't understand the point, I guess.

Thats why there are so many different "interpretations" of the scripture. Who has the right interpretation? You?

Well, I'm assuming anyone who shares their take on a Scripture passage believes their take is right. Otherwise they wouldn't share it. I assume when you say something, it is something you believe. I don't disagree with it because it comes from a person; I may disagree with it if I think it is not a valid interpretation.

Hey, if nobody knows who's interpretations are right, why bother bothering me about mine? Because I think I'm right? Don't you think you're right? I hope you do, otherwise dialogue/debate just seems silly.

I think if you carefully and honestly read our previous posts, I think you will see that it is you that has insulted me not the other way around.

I have honestly read our previous exchanges. I see you making assumptions about my goals and questioning my motives, and I see me taking exception. If getting irked by your decision to badger me rather than respond to things in the actual posts is "insulting you," I guess I plead guilty.
This is something you continue to do, yet you continue to say I'm mis-reading you.

You can email me at jaredcwilson AT yahoo DOT org

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Sorry, it's .com, not .org.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

I have seen what you have talked about Jared at a church I was a member of in another city...The first barrier to true unity is the multicultural aspect. Any church that I have seen really be successful in the community has races and creeds of all types going to the church. I do not know the racial composition of BCC, but i would estimate that it is 80/20 to 90/10 whites, and it is hard-er to reach out without that multicultural aspect. The church that I went to first went to the community, they started having inner-city outreaches, in the ghettos and so forth, and then as the years went by they developed a food kitchen and bought a hotel for the homeless to stay in, and other things like that. So I believe if BCC wants to expand its community in this way, it has to start by the church reaching out, becoming more multicultural and establishing consistent programs to the inner city, not inner city bellvue or belle meade, but inner city nashville. Then, as credibility is gained, you can then begin to expand. Also, how can you minister to the poor all the way at bcc if they cannot get there? You guys need a van ministry.

 
At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jared,

Great blog! Just a little note...don't forget the Nashville Rescue Mission! I volunteer there with some of the team at BCC...great folks all the way around. :)

Dan in Antioch.

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous jonna said...

this post is right on. i'm a social worker & completely believe that if the Church (as a whole) took more responsibility for the social concerns in our community (prescripton assistance, healthcare, food pantry, etc) it would truly show the world our love for Jesus in a PRACTICAL way! i can think of about 20 programs that BCC could start for the surrounding community and the congregation to take part in (mentoring moms, home repairs, grief group, low-cost childcare...i could go on & on....)

*and as a side note* i know BCC does offer some community resources.

personally, i don't think that i should be getting paid to do what i do...if Christ-followers were more generous with their time & resources then i would be out of a job!!!!

you know the quote "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". it's so completely true with the gospel. there are hurting, searching people in nashville with very real basic needs.

i believe the Church has dropped the ball. imagine how different the landscape of our community would look if Christ-followers were pro-active in meeting the practical needs of the community???.

i so wish that the Church would become part of the solution to social problems. it would be huge. and what if churches partnered together, as a "consortium" to make sure that "true religion" happens???

the early church in Acts is a great example of this:

Acts 2:42

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

anyways...all that to say that i completely agree. sorry...this subject ignites me-i'm very passionate about it:)

 
At 9:05 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Dan, thanks for the Rescue Mission notice! That's actually what I meant when I referred to the homeless mission, but maybe I've mischaracterized it. A couple in our previous small group volunteer there and rave about the ministry it does to them even as they minister to others.
---

Jonna, thanks so much for the comment. There is so much practically BCC is doing, and yet there's always room for improvement. Thanks for the great ideas.
---

There was another comment from KW in this thread but I rejected it at moderation. I do want to respond briefly in the hopes that maybe (finally?) he'll get the point.

First he accuses me yet again of creating this blog to get a job. I've already denied that that is my purpose with this site three times, and I'll do it a fourth. While it's never in my best interest to reject a job offer before one even exists ;-), I did not create this site as an "audition" for any kind of position at BCC. KW, your failure to just accept this statement from me is basically you calling me a liar. And, I'm sorry, but people who keep accusing me of lying, even if they won't just come out and say it, aren't welcome.

Secondly, he has seriously mis-read my history. He assumes I've been away from BCC for 9 years and am now trying to come back. I don't know how he came to that conclusion, but my short bio in the sidebar, and my repeated references in previous posts, clearly say I've been attending BCC for 9 years. We came to BCC about a year after we moved to Nashville in 1997, and we've never left. So we've been at BCC for 9 years, not away from it.
And if there was any doubt KW wasn't actually reading the stuff he was responding to before, I am guessing it is gone now.
---

Thanks, everyone, for your patience as I work out the kinks of the moderation thing. I logged off at about 4:30 and had a busy night with the family, even staying up late to watch a movie with my wife. So comments languished until this moment. I appreciate y'all's bearing with me. Hopefully soon I can turn moderation off and your comments will be "instantaneous" once again.

Peace.

 
At 9:11 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Oops, Jonathan I didn't mean to skip you again. My apologies.

I'm with you on the van ministry, provided there are people incapable of coming who would actually like to. I guess my apprehension on that is that there are plenty of churches in Nashville, even in the impoverished areas. It's not like a rural community where van ministries help folks who don't have a church nearby or have no transportation.

I also like the idea of a multicultural congregation, if only because I love the idea of a multicultural Church, but I tend to think a church will look like the community it's in. That doesn't mean I'm anti-multiculturalism; it just means I'm wary of apparently arbitrary multiculturalism. The Bellevue community itself is predominantly white, so I'm not overly concerned about a predominantly white congregation there any more than I am that predominantly black or Hispanic communities house predominantly black or Hispanic churches.

I actually did a post once at my original solo blog, Mysterium Tremendum (www.thinklings.org/jared), complimenting the multiculturalism presented on the BCC stage one weekend. It was a great testament, I think, to BCC's open door policy, and I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say that, of the churches in the Bellevue area, BCC may hold the most appeal to non-white congregants. I think that's a good thing.

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Well, I think what you just said gets to the crux of the matter. It seems like most churches, especially in this town..because there are so many churches..cater to and serve the little areas they are in. I mean, bellevue is a relatively small area...and i think this is the wrong approach. A church should be about the city, not about the neighborhood, and too many times it seems that too many churches just focus on their area..bellvue, brentwood, franklin, etc. Wouldn't it be great if churches expanded their reach to include the whole city? Wouldnt it be great if churches partnered with each other more often to reach the city at large than just focusing on their little area? I do not go to the church I go to because it is close to me. I go because it is the best one for me. That is why a van ministry would be needed....so that people in other areas are not prevented from attending a church because it is not in their immediate area...

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Mike Goodson said...

Jared,
Just thought you'd like to know that on August 30th the church will have another Vision meeting and will discuss the Crazy Campaign, search for a lead pastor, elder nomination process and plans for the midweek service.

Mike

 

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