Churches Partnering To Transform Lives and Communities
By Tony Pappas Eighth in an ongoing series
When churches are in conflict and church members are spitting at each other, the camp that is losing at the moment suddenly remembers that they are American Baptists, finds my number somewhere and calls me up. They expect me to somehow turn over the dynamics of years and even decades and effect an outcome that pleases them allowing them sweet victory over their fellow members.
Well, needless to say, they are left disappointed and I am left troubled. I believe in miracles, but God dispenses them!
I do wonder how is it that people can listen to hundreds of sermons, hear thousands of scripture passages (and maybe even read a couple themselves)—in other words, be an active church member for decades—and not have the wisdom and skill to avoid all-out war within Christ's Body? What have they been doing all those years? Ushering? Covered-dish suppering? Running bake sales? Choir singing?—all good stuff, but what about their inner work? What about growing into the measure of the stature of the image of Jesus Christ? What about gaining spiritual maturity or at least progressing?
What needs to change is you and me! Our experience in Christ's community must move us toward Christ!
Alcoholic Anonymous strikes me as getting this. AAs meet regularly and mostly in small groups. They admit their frailty. They listen to one another. They don't stand for any !@#$%. They exert themselves to help each other day or night. They strongly encourage each other to overcome. They take a fearless moral inventory. Thy know what they believe. They know the power of the Higher Power and of the group. And lives change and people are being made whole.
One wag has said, "The church is alive and well. It just meets in the basement on Saturday night, not in the sanctuary on Sunday morning." Can we become supportive communities of personal, spiritual growth, where lives are transformed and Christ is replicated? Let's change that "not" to "and!"
Tony Pappas is the executive minister of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Email him at email@example.com