Starting a church. Is it a good thing to do, or an essential thing to do? A nice thing to pull some folks together who have a similar vision, or an absolutely needful thing to do for the purposes of Christ? We asked that question last night at the Gathering Church. We had to ask if, in Christ, we are desperate to do it – that is, we must. Does it really matter?
You see, we had been looking at the start of Jesus’ public ministry as described in Mark 1:14-20 and couldn’t miss the sense of urgency – not desperation, but urgency. “The time is fulfilled! The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Immediately, Jesus calls his first disciples, who immediately leave everything to follow Jesus. That’s urgency. That’s a ‘must.’
It usually requires a crisis to ratchet up our sense of urgency. When I asked, “When did you last feel urgent about something?”, people responded with a recent crisis – especially parents. When one mother’s two-year-old jumped in the pool without his swimmies and sunk like a rock – she had no problem with a lack of urgency.
When it comes to church, how urgent do you feel about what you do with church? You might be hungry for some inspiration, eager for some guidance, interested in learning more about your faith, but how urgent do you feel about anything related to church?
To be honest, we’ve turned most of our God-stuff and church activity into therapy. We mostly want to feel good, and to feel positive about our many roles – being a husband, being a dad, those sorts of things. So, if we don’t feel too good about ourselves, we have a greater sense of urgency – not for God, necessarily, but for happiness, for relief from whatever is bothering us.
Jesus introduced a crisis: the kingdom of God had drawn near. An incredible invitation for those who wanted God more than anything, but a threat to those who didn’t. Here’s where I, at least, have to admit that I am inclined to prefer my own kingdom, even though I have officially renounced it. That’s where the initial repentance comes in. One decision may have kicked me in gear to follow, but it requires ‘refreshing’ pretty constantly. John Piper makes the point that we need to pray for God’s kingdom to come daily per Jesus’ prayer instructions. That sounds pretty urgent, doesn’t it?
So, what is the urgency that drives us to start a church, another church in a church-rich area? That we must announce the kingdom, the reign of God, that life can only be had in connection with God, and that Jesus makes that possible.
Do you think that more people might be ready to catch that urgency if we believed it ourselves?