Sunday, October 27, 2019 - UnCommon Church Continued
Charles Dickens wrote a Tale of Two Cities. It starts out this way: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…"
We see a stark contrast between these two cities. The two cities that Dickens is talking about is Paris and London. While Paris is in a steep decline, London is living it up.
We can also see this in our own lives and in our own church. What path do you see yourself on? What path are you on? Where are you in your life journey? This applies to us as a church as well.
What path do you see our church on?
What path is the church really on? Where are we in our life journey? This story can really make us sit up and take notice. Who are we as a people? There is a saying--if you really want to find out what is important to someone, look at their calendar and their checkbook. Jesus tells us that where our heart is, there our treasure will be also.
This past week, we were given information that tells us that most of our churches are in decline. We are down to around 1,000 churches in the state. As a denomination, we are on the decline. It does not have to be that way. Let me tell you some characteristics of a common church--a church in decline.
The common church is convenient, minimal, and sporadic. To quote 2 Corinthians 9:7, "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives joyfully."
1.) The common church has a scarcity mindset. This is a very insular church that has a siege mentality. This is the church that in order to deal with the pace of change, just hunkers down—it is a church against the world. Hunker down and receive God’s blessing and then avoid culture in which God calls us to live. This is the church that is protecting what used to be. We all know the type.
This is the church that wants to go back to the good old days. They want to go back to the days of "We filled up the pews... There were more than 100 people in the choir... etc.
2.) The common church is guilt driven in giving. This is the church that gives out of a sense of guilt. This is the "I have to" feeling and usually comes in the form of response to pressure.
3.) The common church does mindless giving. That is when you go to church and say, well, I'll just give whatever I have in my wallet. I don't know how much I have in there. I'm just putting something in the plate so that I won't be embarrassed when it comes around.
The common denominator of the common church is attitude. It is an attitude that is not responsive to God's love, but rather fearful of God's wrath or fearful of what others will think.
The UnCommon Church is different.
1.) In The UnCommon Church, generosity overflows. The source of generosity is deep, personal Gratitude. The UnCommon Church gives out of a deep and loving relationship they have with God. This is the church that doesn't give out of a scarcity mindset (being afraid of not having enough). Rather, this is a church that gives out of being grateful for everything that God has done and looks forward to seeing what else God will do with the gifts that they give.
2.) The UnCommon Church gives out of generosity that inspires. This is the church that gives and inspires others to do so as well. They do it of their own free will. Adlai Stevenson says, "I would rather light a candle, than curse the darkness." This is the church that lets their light shine in the world because light overcomes darkness. The more candles we have in the world, the brighter the world we have. This church gives to be a light in the darkness and inspires others to do the same.
3.) The UnCommon Church knows that generosity is visionary. This is the church that knows that the giving that is done today is not just for today, but rather, is for the future as well. This is the church that knows that its actions are not just for the here and now but for the there and then. The decisions and choices you make in this life will determine where you go in the next life. Choices you make today will echo in eternity.
So, on that note, I challenge you to be The UnCommon Church. Live life in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.