This week our church hosted the Webster County Baptist Association revival meetings. It was a good time of fellowship among the churches and a time to be challenged to be the Church God wants us to be. We heard from three of our newest pastors in our county…and then me. I quickly realized I was the old man of the bunch! Cobb Lowrance, pastor of Conway First Baptist, preached on Monday evening. When I first arrived at Marshfield First Baptist in 1995, Cobb was still in the terrible two’s! It’s humbling and gratifying all at the same time. God is always faithful. He provides for the Church in every generation. Even though I was the “senior” pastor on the platform, I want to learn from this next generation of leadership. We received the never ending challenge to develop the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, and service to God and to the people around us. And when we mess up, we fall on God’s grace and mercy and ask God to pick us up and set back into motion as we obey him. We were reminded that only Jesus is worthy to guide our lives and our future.
As much as I want to continue to learn from this next generation, I also want to be faithful to teach them and to lead by example. We live in a fast paced, changing world. We have to remember that the Word of God never changes. It is relevant to every generation. However the way we “do church” is not always relevant. In fact, I am struck by that all too common phrase “do church.” We are not called to “do church.” We are called to be the church! Sadly it has become something we do. Church has become a once- or twice-a-month activity for the average church attender. There’s another phrase we must correct: We are not “church attenders.” We are the church! We may be seeing the end days of “doing church.” And I say that will be a good thing. We must be God’s church everywhere we go. That does not mean we will stop gathering together. In fact we are called upon in Scripture to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The Church, God’s people, must be known for love and good works. And we must continually figure out “how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We do that as we meet together and encourage one another. And the closer we get to the return of Jesus (the Day to which Hebrews 10:25 refers), the more we need each other! However, if our love and good works are only seen within the church, then we have missed our calling. We exist to glorify God and to see lives changed! We cannot be content to only take care of ourselves. We cannot wait for people to come to us. We are called to go and make disciples, not wait and wish there were more disciples. The church that is content to remain in a holy huddle and do church the way we have always done it, will die. I believe the next generation will lead God’s Church to greater effectiveness and impact in our towns, our nation, and our world. That generation can start with you and me.
Lord, revive us. Again.