Being a Balance

I was just chatting to Josh, literally a minute ago and this post came to me. Being a balance!   What do I mean by this? It all relates to me and my role in church. Confused? Well I intend to explain.

Being the contemporary Christian

When I find myself in a church that is a bit old school in how it does things, I tend to find myself being the ‘contemporary Christian’. Loving all the new modern songs, loving the new technology and all that. I tend to be defending the contemporary scene, and pushing for the church to embrace aspects of the contemporary scene. A church that stubbornly sticks to its old ways is at danger of putting tradition before the Bible, before God and before its community; a church can only be healthier with someone acting as a modern spokesman!

Being the old school Christian

When I am in a more contemporary church, singing the latest Matt Redman song, with lights and smoke machines, I tend to find I become the ‘old school Christian’, loving the hymns, the old school preaching in a suit and the like. I’m the one who likes to keep going on about how good the doctrine in hymns can be. A church is always at danger in putting the latest gadget or device or technique before God, before the Bible and before its faithful walk. A church can only be healthier if it remembers the lessons learnt by our forefathers and remember the key truths always.

Doesn’t that get frustrating for you and those round you?

Perhaps, you may have to ask them! In seriousness, if you approach these matters with a humble heart and don’t slam it all in everyone’s’ faces every time something is brought up; then I see no reason why it should prove frustrating. When we think of the church, we must be humble, ready to learn, happy to be corrected. Who knows, maybe by being the opposite it engages others with a conversation they may never had had!

What’s the point in this post?

Balance is the point. The church needs a balance. Going too far one way is always dangerous and not something I like to see, ‘only blockheads go to extremes’ C.H. Spurgeon wrote. The blog is all about balance and I guess it has kind of rubbed off on me. I love debating with Josh or whoever about scripture or church issues, I love seeing other view points, and I like to see balance in everything that is said.

We cannot be afraid of having different opinions, but we must always have a humble heart when we look at other people and other churches. We aren’t always necessarily right and it is always good to have a conversation in the right spirit.

So remember, try and maintain a balance and always try to have a humble heart!

How do we achieve this balance?

Let’s be frank, we can’t get it on our own, we need God’s help. Our ‘balances’ are ‘unbalanced balances’. ‘Balance’ is very often the buzzword of my discussions with Josh, yet a real balance is unachievable whilst we’re trying to do it alone. We always veer towards extremes, we’re too human. Our balance is too much of a pendulum; a brief moment in the middle when we’re swinging from one extreme to the other. We need a ‘divine balance’, we need God’s Holy Spirit to come down and take charge of our minds and senses — only then can we get that true balance.

The words of Jesus promise:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks fora fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13 (NIV).

It feels like the church in our day is just running around in circles, trying this, trying that, without looking upwards, to heaven, to God.

“A false balance is a abomination to the Lord, a just weight is his delight” Proverbs 11:1 (ESV).

The Number Game

Do you ever feel that sometimes church is a number game? I often get the question, ‘How big is your church?’ As if it’s the most important question going. Sometimes I just want to answer ‘Why does it matter?’ or ‘How big is God?’ But it is always asked and one you just have to answer politely and accurately. Why? Because even if we hate to say we come from a small church or whatever, it is in fact the truth.

Big Church vs Small church

Do you ever feel as though we are in a competition? Do you feel as though big churches like to think they triumph over the smaller churches? Or are you ashamed of your little church? If you come from a small church then you know where I am coming from, sometimes we feel that we are looked down upon, or that we aren’t blessed like our brothers and sisters. We feel as though numbers matter.

Numbers do not matter.

Controversial statement perhaps. I can imagine some of you reading this are thinking, ‘Doesn’t this guy wanna see people saved or what?’ The answer to that question is yes, a thousand times yes! But that being said, a church should not count its blessings by its headcount. Sometimes, the most faithful churches are those where only a few people meet, always in prayer and in love. Sometimes they are those who are struggling to make ends meet, and sometimes they are those that everyone looks down upon because they are unable to increase the attendance of their church. Perhaps they are the ageing church down the road.
On the other hand, just because your church is big or growing, does not mean that it is necessarily faithful (which I fear is the case in many churches in our day). It could be that the preachers there are speaking what men want to hear, it is after all what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:3:

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Surely they are doing something wrong! They are small for a reason! Perhaps not, the gospel after all offends, and we can do all we can, but if people do not want to listen, they won’t. Sometimes God won’t melt the hearts of stone, and that is the truth. Nevertheless, that small church should always be crying out for revival, for new people, for growth and for people to be saved. A small church that does this, constantly in prayer with our Father, one that desires revival and one that remains faithful is more powerful than a church that is huge but has no word, greater than one that attracts crowds but has none of the Lord’s saving power in its preaching.

This is not against Big Churches

Don’t get me wrong here, big churches are not bad; indeed there are many which God has blessed massively and are true to his word. But what I am attacking is our attitude. Judging our faithfulness by our membership. Big churches have a responsibility, to help those small churches, to encourage them and in some cases support them, always in prayer! I know our attitude can be sometimes, ‘well they are small because they are ‘old fashioned’ or that they are all ‘old’’. Do not forget God can use anything and anyone. Support them in prayer rather than boast about your own situation.

Encouragement for the small church

For the small church, what we should always focus on is prayer, living close to our God. The church does need to be an active church even if it is only something small. It has to be involved with its community in any means it can be. But we in a way, cannot do anything about it, if we can do all that we can do, then the only thing left to do is to give it all to God. Remember He remains faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to Him. Remember that He will NEVER forsake us or leave us. Know that our God is with us, and just believe that God will use you, whoever you are, to do amazing things for His kingdom.

To Conclude

Numbers do not matter. I don’t care if your church has 1 person, 10 people, 100 people, and 1000 people, so what? What matters more is how faithful is the church? What is more important is how many live close to the Lord, what is your church’s prayer meeting like? Small and big churches alike, these questions address us all. So stop asking us small churches how big we are and why we think we are such a size, instead greet us like brothers, like sisters and join with us in prayer. Pray for revival, and pray for his kingdom to come!

Be Active Christians

Josh recently did an article on prayer, which was well received. This article follows on from this. Josh correctly noted that prayer is essential; I think any Christian can agree with this. However, not all of us are prayer warriors, and we all have a different role to play in the church (Acts 6:2-4). Secondly, praying is all well and good, but you need to be active. This is what this article is all about; being an active Christian, i.e. faith without works is dead!

Active

My church moto, or verse for the year comes from 1 Peter 4 verses 10-11. It reads:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

I think these are such powerful verses that need to be in the heart of every believer. We can pray, yes, but then we need to follow it up with action. There is always a danger of praying, doing nothing, and then moaning why nothing has happened. We also should never leave service to others, because we are ALL called to serve — woman, man, adult, teenager — if you are a believer then you should be using the gifts GIVEN to you to give grace to others. It is such a vital thing to do, but the church, in general, fails at it so much. We are all caught up in the world, or we are too shy, or we are self-doubting.

The New Living Translation makes verse 10 more understandable when it says “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another”. God has given us these gifts that we have, and we all unique, no one Christian is better than another, each gift is from God and therefore is so valuable and precious. We are then to use these gifts to serve, to be active, whether that is in our church, leading a service, welcoming people, doing teas and coffees, or collecting hymn books after a service, the list goes on. I am sure your church has many needs, why not see if you can fill some of those needs.

I do feel that in many churches, it has become a one man band, that the role of pastor has been perverted and misused. A pastor is not the church leader, and he certainly shouldn’t be doing everything in the church. Rather a church is a community; it needs to rely on the people, on the congregation, on its members to function properly. A church is a community where believers come together to worship and serve Christ; it is more than a service, and it is more than a sermon, it is the people, so look to serve and help, do not leave it to one person!

By being active, by serving others as though it were Christ himself, by being active in our own community, we give glory to God, who has entrusted us with these gifts and responsibilities to be his stewards and servants here on earth. God has given all to us, He has given us his grace, surely we should give what we can to people around us. This also is not just about Christians, this is about the communities in which our churches are based. It is about those whom we come into contact daily. We may pray, but do we shine? Are we just saying prayers to show off? Are we being active Christians, or are we being academic Christians? It is great to know more of God, but that isn’t just limited to reading the Bible, by living out the Bible, so to we learn.

We often take evangelism as preaching, and that just isn’t the case. Just by living out our faith is a great testament, whether it’s the small things, helping your neighbours in your road, setting up a free drop-in café in your building, giving out water when the temperature rises or help families who are in crises, any of things are us serving our local community. It is us being hospitable; it is us living out the gospel. Preaching has its place, but we are certainly not all preachers, and have all our gifts that we can use in just helping our local community.

Divine balance

As everything with this blog, we always urge a balance. Just being ‘busy’ for the sake of it is pointless; just to make us feel like we’re doing something to dumb down our consciences, so to speak. It’s important to get this right. Mary and Martha — Martha was the one running around ‘active’, whereas Mary just sat under the word. When we are being active Christians, the main purpose is to Glorify God, and to follow what he says, and that is to serve.

We need to of course, always pray that God shows us his will and his path for us. But do not be afraid to step out in faith and become an active Christian. Stop leaving it all to other people stop putting other things before your service to the church. The Church is an amazing fellowship, and it is a community of believers, let us break down the old image of the church, of a building, of a sermon and make it what it is meant to be, a community of believers, meeting together, serving one another, and the Lord.

One little thing that we can use to remember this (although we shouldn’t have to be reminded!) is use the acrostic PAL. May we be praying Christians, may we be active Christians, may we be loving Christians and be proper PALs to the lost!

P — Pray

A – Act

L – Love