Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest

This morning I continued reading in the LLC book for March, The Relational Way by Scott Boren. Often I read chapters out of order. I will read the last chapters to get to the bottom line, and then later go back and read the rest. Today I was doing just that, reading Chapter 2, "Gathering Around the Presence."

Boren makes the point that we often subcumb to the temptation to organize small groups around a particular good thing, and then we expect them to thrive. In doing so we miss the true dynamo that creates Christian community. Jesus Christ is that power. Groups need to be centered first in Jesus Christ. The things that eclipse Christ's centrality can be "excellent curriculum", "dynamic group leaders", "the perfect small group organization system", and "the right group model." (He explains each of these in the chapter.)

As I thought about it, we can get tripped up by this temptation at any level within the church. We can "organize" our hopes for church transformation around great worship, attractive programs, charismatic personalities, tasty lattes, and the latest church growth techniques. We can become disillusioned and even embittered when none of these produce the results we were expecting, e.g., stopping decline, inreasing attendance, attracting young families, improving the finances, etc.

Consider the corrective to this expectation in the following quote from Boren. I've replaced the word "group" with "church." See if this doesn't have great implications for us:

"The job of the church leader is to take people to Jesus and to take Jesus to people. Jesus is the authority and only his keys matter. At the same time, Jesus provides practical ways to improve the church. He uses books and seminars to highlight activities and tools that work. However, these things are not the starting point. Jesus is. The books or seminars on church leadership describe the keys, but they do not provide them. A leader can only get these keys directly from Jesus. The keys are based upon the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus is the one who brings life to a congregation. He is the one who causes people to share honestly. He is the one who touches lives and changes people. He is the one who moves through the body to reach out to the unchurched. He is the one who raises up leaders who begin new ministries and new churches. Jesus is the key." (pp, 60-61)

Increasingly I am convinced that church vitality and effective disciple-making, will never happen until we experience a deep renewal in our love and devotion to Jesus Christ. He is the Center. Of creation. Of life. Of salvation. Of discipleship. And, of the Church. Apart from His life-giving vitality and presence, all of our efforts, even the good ones, are only so much hollow strivings. In His presence there is life, hope, joy, energy, direction, creative ministry initiatives, and dare I say it, FUN! (Read Boren's chapter and you will see why I put that last one in....)

One last quote to close this out: "If Jesus is the head of the church (Col 1:18), then the church is only the church of Jesus Christ when it is living in vitality with the head." (p, 47) Amen, and amen!

(If you would like to know what the Leadership Learning Communities are reading check out the book list at http://abcnw.org/llc-reading-lists/)

2009 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest
[This article is from Dr. Revis’ blog, www.missionnorthwest.blogspot.com]