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12 October 2009

day one in the "secular" world...

Today began my move back into the workforce outside of the office at Wall Highway Baptist Church. Yesterday I made the announcement in both of our AM services that I would be moving back into bi-vocational ministry and church leadership. I went into this at length in a previous post, but I thought I'd share my announcement here, since it varied a little bit from my long post.

I wanted to touch on some of the reasons I believe that "tent-making" is critical in the ministry, without alienating people to the point of tuning me out (old habits die hard). From the feedback I received, my point was understood.

I think that this will mark the last post about what's been up here lately. I still haven't gotten to a post that commenter Robby asked about -- what do I believe a church meeting should look like? So without further ado, here's the announcement I made yesterday:

About two years ago I began an investigation, almost unintentionally. I wanted to know if what we consider “church” today is actually what God laid out for His people when He founded His Church on Jesus Christ.

I want to share a couple of things that I’ve looked at over that time, and how Callie and I are following God as a result, and I’d love to talk to you about it over lunch over the coming weeks if you have any questions. Find me after the service and we will plan it.
 When you hear Pastor Lee mention that he talked with someone in Starbucks about Jesus, there’s a note of encouragement that says we need to be doing that. That’s the point! But underlying everything, I’ve seen that there’s usually an expectation that says, “Hey, he’d better be doing that! We pay him to be a preacher and talk about Jesus all the time and wear his hair like that.” When we hear about a pastor or a preacher who’s caught in some sin, especially a famous person, not only do we shoot our wounded, but we are amazed at how a man of God would be able to fall so far.

 One of the things I have seen from observing the modern Church is that in our minds we have so separated “pastors” from “laypeople” – in an unbiblical way – that from my observation, we fully expect that paid professional Christians should be the better Christians.
But I’ve noticed that my Bible doesn’t differentiate in its standards of following Christ, and I’ll bet yours doesn’t, either. Every single person in this room who calls himself or herself a follower of Christ has been given a spiritual gift, or gifts, that God requires us to use for His glory in the community of believers, and each of us is held to this standard by God Almighty: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. This command is not for a small subset of Christians.

And then I’ve considered how I serve God and how I serve you. I’m not rich, but I’m paid well. And I’ve looked at the salary I make and contrasted it with how much we as a congregation at Wall Highway get up, get out, and give to those who are truly in need. The church in America has become a very comfortable group of people.

 If you look at how we spend our time and our finances, it’s very stark how inwardly-focused we are, and I have a hard time seeing Biblical actions or Biblical intent in that.
I am now moving forward in the spirit of what Paul said in Acts 20 when he spoke to the elders in the Church at Ephesus: “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:32-35, NLT)

This is exciting and will present its own set of challenges, but having been at Wall Highway for 18 years, many of those in bi-vocational service, this is not new to me. There may not be a change on the surface, if the only time you ever see me is on Sunday morning. But I do want to see change – change that sees the Church growing spiritually, and the community of believers working and serving together with a new perspective on what it really means to “Be the Church."

Come and talk with me after the service if I can clarify anything or if I can share more about what God has been doing. I love you guys.

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Dean, As a fellow bi-vōc (I like that so much better than "lay"), your post is both encouraging and challenging.


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