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Fragmented Footing

By William Wright

Growing up in a household that never went to church, never believed in God, and constantly used Christ’s name in vain, I can honestly say that I had no conception of what church should be or what it really looked like outside of what I saw on TV or in the movies (“Footloose”). After accepting Christ into my life and learning to understand what the Church should be, my fresh perspective can almost be considered a hindrance…well, at least inconvenient.

At the age of 24, in January of 2001, I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. I knew from that moment that everything He says is the truth–He is the way, the truth, and the life—the only way to reach salvation, eternal life in glory.

I was extremely blessed to have my first church “home” be a magnificent, organized, hotbed for the Lord in the Tampa, Florida, area. The teachings were awesome, the worship was Spirit-led, and the main thing was, well, THE MAIN THING! There was no backing down from the Word and what it had to offer and what the Lord was saying through it–constantly. There was no watering down of what sin will do to us as humans, culpable of being seduced by the enemy. Sure, there were problems and hiccups with minor things such as parking or baby/kid church, but the heart was there and the leadership knew how to address the needs of the congregants (for the most part). You can’t please everyone all the time.

My family and I recently (2006) moved to Austin, Texas, after spending five years in Tampa. Finding a church home has proven to be more difficult than we imagined. And it’s also exposed, what we believe, is a serious flaw in the body of Christ today.

There is a theory going around today that too many church-goers are consumers and they are seeking churches that fit their needs. These church-goers are trying to find the perfect childrens’ ministry or the best music or a church that doesn’t emphasize giving tithes and offerings. They don’t want to be convicted by the fact that sin does exist. In short, some people want a nice meeting place, where they can say they believe in god by espousing, “see, we go to church on Sunday”.

I understand the desire to quickly label these folks, and I have been vigilant about not becoming one of these church-hoppers. I do not want church to be about what it can do for me, but what I can do for the entire body of Christ.

Many folks in the “know” in church-plant circles believe the Austin area to be prime for new churches, ready to reach the un-churched. With this information, many people who have felt the call to be pastors have started churches like small franchises at such a rate that would make McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, and Whataburger jealous. Everywhere we turn we see new churches being promoted, usually at your local elementary school’s cafetorianasium.

Who am I to dispute a man’s calling? I’m not going to question what the Lord has placed on the heart of a man. But what I will question is how these men are coordinating together, as part of Christ’s single body.

Imagine a city of not yet 30,000 people. Now picture at least two dozen churches sprouting up within that small city. Some churches are bigger than others and some serve very different “needs”, but rarely do the leaders of these small churches speak, let alone pray together seeking ways to bring a lost city to Christ.
These small churches serve different people looking for different things. Some people want a live band, others want a good teacher. Some people are looking for a place to drop their kids off as they hear the Word, other folks are looking for a church that goes out into the community. Some church-goers even are drawn to a church that is active on Facebook or provides podcasts. But in many instances, there is a failure to thrive, and atrophy sets in because the entire body isn’t being used as a whole.
Just as the churches have something to offer, so does each individual pastor of these small flocks. As I said before, I’m not going to argue a man’s calling—but being a pastor is far different than being a shepherd. I know many men who are excellent pastors, with the ability to pray and counsel. I also know men who are excellent administrators, who have the ability to organize and set a movement in motion. Then there are those men who know the Word inside and out and can teach, and teach, and teach…but rely on them to counsel a grieving family and it’s just not built into them.
I’m not looking for the perfect church–it doesn’t exist. But what I am looking for is the body to be one, under Christ, constantly feeding the flock and seeking the lost. This cannot be done as a fragmentation. This has to be done in unity, with the churches either becoming one or at least leaning on each other through strength, being solid brick and mortar. Did Paul write 17 different letters, “To the 17 different churches in Ephesus:”?
I envision each city or town having a “lake” church, thriving with a vast variety of life, supporting the ecosystem with everything it needs—nutrients, air, light, food. As it stands now, we have multiple little puddles, that evaporate quite quickly, not able to sustain the life that seeks to be served.
It is my prayer that the body connects, becomes one, and strengthens for His kingdom. Anything short of this is simply a diminished possibility…appetizers, anyone?

William Wright–married, with children.

Educated in Seattle, saved in Zephyrhills, “raised” in Tampa, and still growing in Austin.

“I once considered myself a selfish church hopper…I now realize that my hunger drives me to continue to seek nourishment. I’m a growing babe!”–William

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERMAKE A WEBSITE

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