Since it has been a rather post-evangelical week here on Internet Monk, I think it only fitting that the last words I contribute to the subject, before turning things over to Mike Bell tomorrow, come from Michael Spencer.
The following is an excerpt from Michael’s book, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality and its chapter, “Leaving the Church-Shaped Life.”
Much of what passes for proclaiming Jesus is, in actuality, churches concerned with attracting large numbers of Sunday mornings, directing financial resources toward church budgets, and showing Christians how to get in synch with church activities. What’s needed is a wave of churches that are committed to helping you become a missionary in your world.
Millions of Christians have moved out of the traditional church and into the culture. They have moved into alternative forms of the church and into new and little-understood expressions of the church. What are these Christians looking for, and what are they finding? I believe they want to affirm a balance of Jesus, Kingdom of God, church, and individual life.
There have been times in my church-dominated, church-shaped experience when I caught the sound and sight of something entirely different from what I was experiencing. I’m not talking about the plastic happiness of pretend spirituality, nor am I talking about impressive rooms full of rocking-out worshipers.
When I caught sight of something that was so different and real that it captured my attntion and drew my spirit, it was always as a person. It was the appeal of a person who chose the way of Jesus and not the way of money, success, popularity, or fame. They were not looking for a bigger crowd. They were not looking to sell books or make their name famous. They did not show up to attract an audience or attention. They showed up to give to others.
They gave away their money and chose suffering. They were little known or unknown but lived openly and honestly before God.
They saw the possibility of God’s Kingdom in places such as senior-adult apartment complexes, AIDS hospices, Alzheimer’s wards, mountain schools, and remote villages far from their home.
They never pointed to anything as much as Christ, the gospel, and the love of Jesus.
Their beliefs and actions flowed together seamlessly. Love, faith, hope, and good works were inseparable.
They were humble, silent when necessary, and speaking up as the Holy Spirit led. The great expression of their faith was to serve in Jesus’ name and to count all things valuable only in relationship to Christ.
The humble service of Jesus, the believers who serve Christ and his Kingdom asking for nothing, remind me that the beauty of the life of discipleship is “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This life grows in the soil of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is the church’s calling to produce disciples who hunger for Jesus, and it is the believer’s calling to know the difference between Jesus and the church that points to Jesus.
– Michael Spencer
Mere Churchianity, pp. 159-161