15 Jul 2019

When My Soul Flaps Over The Church

I suppose it’s because you can’t take the pastor out of me.

But I have these tendencies - of a mother hen. Before you genderise this, remember Jesus referred to himself similarly!

Just that I am not mothering a specific local congregation right now. But my pastoral-mother-hen heart clucks up a notch at news of those who are lost, burdened, and struggling to grow in the LORD.

Here’re some scenarios that get my soul flapping:

1. news that spiritual babies are not being fed a proper basic diet to establish their health
2. that children, the elderly and non-mainstream folks don’t have a place at the table, the worship order and the missions expression.
3. another leader doing what other leaders are doing (especially traveling overseas) and it smacks of “look, I am successful”
4. when we take our western diets and without taking time to learn, love and live with a different culture, tell them this is the christian life, spiritual progress…
5. turning to triumphalistic story-telling as our main way of gospel sharing which leaves many struggling in the dust
6. failing to love the whole person - body, soul, spirit + past, present and future - not doing the hard work of seeing with God’s eyes
7. hoarding souls rather than sending them soaring
8. pride: disguised, veiled, ugly and on display (including mine, especially mine).
9. going over the same debates (worship styles, women etc) as if the church has made no progress on these weighty matters - because we did not bother to read, think, dialogue.
10. impatience: it’s everywhere, in city-living, and it colours our own walk, and the way we do and evaluate everything.
11. refusing to learn from wider wisdom, do research and practise discernment which leads to all sorts of poor decisions, esp the decision to promote and appoint based on oftentimes very worldly values.
12. consumer faith (this is huge and I have written on it  here (back in 2007!) ) - which promotes not simple, but simplistic faith.

These are serious issues that weaken our faith life, communities and witness.

Singapore loves how her smallness can contain so much. It is true. Our miraculous nature is pretty obvious. So we are excited, excited that God has something special in store for us (actually, He has something special for every nation)… and this label that we are Antioch is such a great shorthand for us to park everything under.

Antioch represents a fresh wind - away from Jerusalem - where the buzz of global missions outreach and the site where we first got our IDs as ‘christians’.

Just that, we are now 2000 years away, in a very different world. The term ‘christian’ now means very differently to what it meant then. Since globalisation and the internet, the world is also both closer and more polarised than it ever was.

So we have a lot of hard- thinking and heart-searching to do.

I also found, that it is easy to complain.

But God has called us to edify. So this is what I decide to do these days:

- I talk to people who may share these concerns and have answers (and it is very heartening to find that the Spirit is stirring and people are doing things about some of these*)
- I use my platforms to raise them when I can (such as here and here )
- I pray, for God Almighty reminds me this old truth I learnt in my youth: “more things are wrought by prayer than… (EM Bounds I believe it was)”

Share in the comments:
Do you share any of these concerns?
What do you do when your soul flaps over the church?

And here's some cheer --

*Areas people are acting on - already and upcoming for points:
2. several churches now have teams that look into this (check The Cathedral Podcast where I speak to a few such folks!)
4. we have think-tanks...and there will be work to link, strengthen and maybe have our own version of Gallup or Barna!

I looked up some images of churches in Sg (of course, home churches and those in industrial estates etc won't turn up...) Look at the lovely architecture. God is building a thing of beauty, our call is to be pillar of truth in society (1 Tim 3v15). Ain't very often we pause to give thanks, appreciate and savour what we have!

See if you can recognise these few (selected randomly):