For what will the American Church be known in 2011? A new year brings great possibilities and great opportunities. At the same time, it carries great responsibilities. We can forget about our past failures and begin anew to be the Body of Christ to a world in such desperate need. This can be the year when Christians reject traditional religious ritual and venture out as true followers of Christ. We can go to the entire world, teaching them about the love of Christ and be His hands and feet to a dying world. In the midst of darkness we can be a shining light, a people who reflect the glory of God.
Conversely, we can continue to do the things we’ve always done. We can build larger buildings to accommodate our growing church programs, or perhaps just to modernize and compete with the entertainment options of the world around us. As ministries and fellowships grow, I believe it can become easy to lose sight of our true mission. We can get so caught up in doing ministry that we forget the whole point of it. Building a fellowship of believers has nothing to do with building bigger and bigger facilities with state of the art amenities. How many people could be fed and clothed with the money we spend on facilities? How many more could be shown the love of Jesus by providing a single cup of clean water? I pray this is the year that the Western Church begins to turn its focus outward after looking inward for so many years.
I realize there are many churches doing outstanding work in reaching out to the world. The problem is that these fellowships are the exception and not the rule. It should be the other way around. Instead of accepting it as the norm, we should be cut to the bone whenever we see a church that is spending dollar after dollar in updating their buildings and facilities. The Lord has chosen to bless the Western Church with unbelievable resources in this season of history, and we must not squander that with which we have been entrusted. Are we multiplying the talents He has given us, or are we burying them within our own congregations so as to not lose what we already have?
What if this year we channeled our funds to reach out to the poor, the lost and the dying? What if instead of preaching against the scourge of AIDS we actually started providing medicine and healing to those inflicted with this disease? What if instead of preaching about how God intends us to be rich we begin to divest our wealth to give to those living in poverty? What would happen if instead of huddling together among ourselves we instead dispersed among the streets of our cities and throughout the world, going and telling others about the love of Jesus and what He means to us?
We have this opportunity to determine right now what our legacy will be over the coming year. We cannot accomplish our mission unless we first become clear about where it is we want to go. Each of us can play an important role in determining the course of the American Church this year; we all can make an impact. Turning from the empty religion of the past to a vibrant life of purpose in the future begins with you and me. For those who live in America, we can immediately begin pursuing Christ in our own lives, and sharing our journey with those in our fellowship. We can begin petitioning our pastors and elders to make 2011 a year of revival, a year of returning to living life as authentic followers of Jesus. If you don’t live in America, please pray for the Church here. Pray we will be good stewards of the blessings entrusted to us, and that we might use our abundant resources to reach the world with the love of Christ.
It’s up to us, Church. We can continue the status quo and build our impressive buildings while further isolating ourselves from those in need or we can repent and turn again to the work that is the mission of Jesus Christ. The change will not be easy, but it is necessary. Let’s not let another year pass while we sit on the sidelines, enamored with our wealth and oblivious to the world around us. Let’s build a legacy of love and zeal for the name of Jesus Christ. The work begins today.