Wrong Definition = Wrong Destination

There really is a great divide between what we mean, and what Jesus means when we discuss the nature of His church. When we talk about success, we mean something very different from what Jesus has in mind. When we talk about church and ministry we often envision a whole set of things Jesus isn’t really all that interested in.
In my own journey in the church and in church leadership I’ve discovered my definitions about the nature of the church are vitally important. Why? Because if I start with the wrong definition, I move to the wrong destination. If I think Jesus defines success in the same way I’m prone to define it – it leads to the whole set of problematic issues we’ve discussed in recent posts. This same reality plays itself out with our definitions of church, ministry, leadership. evangelism, spiritual formation, etc.  When our definitions of these things differ from Jesus’ we run into some serious dangers. For one, we might find ourselves being wildly successful at what Jesus actually doesn’t value all that much. Think about that. It’s possible to be insanely successful at things other church people think are very cool, but Jesus thinks is a complete waste of energy and time. On the other hand, we might find ourselves being faithful to what Jesus thinks actually matters, but because we’re not meeting the nickles and noses metrics of  “success” we become disheartened and leave the ministry or leave the church because we’re not “effective enough” or “successful enough for Jesus.” This is tragic and sobering. And yet, it very much describes the landscape of our North American church. Our wrong definitions have led us into some very unhealthy destinations.

So what do we do? If we are in any way participating in a local church body, we need to be a part of the solution in two simple ways:

  1. Re-examine – Do what you can to foster discussion about how your church defines the nature of its life, and participate in bringing your definitions of church, and success into congruence with Christ.
  2. Re-engineer – Help your church dream it up all over again. Think through how you would “do church” as guided by Christ’s ideas of “doing church.”

I know this entire discussion is incredibly threatening, but it’s time for the American church to move toward the destination Christ intends for us. What are you thoughts and ideas?

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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2 Responses to Wrong Definition = Wrong Destination

  1. thissimplecomplicatedlife says:

    I love this series of posts. At the same time it’s so hard sometimes not feeling misunderstood or guilty because I/we don’t buy into the same things that much of the church believes is so important (i.e. being at the church for any and every program/service, being busy in so many ministries within the church that it leaves no time for living life and ministering outside the church in our “regular” lives). We spent many years doing it that way. It just didn’t work, for us or for anybody else. We are now restrained in how we interact in our local church in order to be able to be more organic in living our faith both in and outside the church. It’s a much more empowering experience. Thankfully, we are able to communicate honestly with our pastors about this and they seem to get it. It’s a much easier experience now being a part of the church in terms of not feeling guilty all the time.

  2. Andy Lewis says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words about the latest posts. You definitely bring up a whole other stream of conversation about how we actually spend our time doing church. Again the wrong definitions of church lead to so many wrong destinations for time use that aren’t all that sustainable. Glad to hear your family is in a much better, and much simpler, space for how you live in a different rhythm of time.

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