For Christmas vacation, my family and I traveled to West Virginia. Though we have been to the Mountain State hundreds of times to see family and reconnect with my home we decided to take a different route. We took a route that was less familiar, but offered more places to stop (which is an advantage when traveling with a 4-year old).
We didn’t know the route as well as our normal road, but we were confident we knew where we were going. We had family members who had talked about the route and its advantages. We stayed on major highways and interstates. If all that failed us, we had our trusty guide of an in-car navigational system on our phone to keep us going in the right direction.
All of that made taking a different route a simple trip back home to visit family.
What if none of that was available?
Would we still be willing to take a new route to get to the destination? What if we didn’t have family members who had traveled the road before? Would we still take the new road? What if there were no major interstates or highways to make the drive simpler? Would we still take the new road? What if we didn’t have an in-car navigational system?
Would we still take the new road?
My guess is, if you are like me, you would be less willing to try out a new road and direction. You would be more apt to stick with the road often traveled and more familiar.
Does that sound like the church to you?
This is the scenario where we find ourselves as a church. We know where we are wanting to go – to be a church that seeks to make disciples of Jesus Christ – but we’re not always confident about how to get there. We see obstacles on the journey – a more secular society, an aging population, and trust issues within institutions – and it leads us to be concerned. When we are concerned, or even nervous, about how to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we’ll continue to do the same things we’ve always done in the church even if what we are doing is no longer working.
Nothing that we face today is unknown to Christianity. We’ve seen these obstacles before. The church has faced divisions and secularization before and even worse, yet because it is new to us we allow ourselves to be crippled by the challenges instead of seizing the opportunities before us.
I believe there are more opportunities available to us to make disciples, to share the love of Christ, and to express hope than what we often claim. I believe there are people who need to know that God loves them. I believe there are people who need to experience that the people of God love them too. This the work God calls us to be about, but doing this work may require us to create new ministries and ways of relating to people. It may require us to do things we’ve never done before.
Are you willing to try something new to reach new people for Christ?
I can promise you I don’t know exactly how we will get to where we are going in our work of making disciples. I am confident, though, if we trust that God is guiding us, that together we can do more than we ever imagine, and if we are willing to learn along the way, we will get to where God wants us to go.
Are you willing to join me in thinking about how we can make disciples of Jesus Christ?