(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called “Blog”)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
Over the next two weeks we are doing a series entitled “Doors”. This series will update people on where we are at as a Church, give people a sense of direction as to where we are headed, help people understand how to pray more effectively for the church and help them get on board if they still have not “boarded the train.” As an elders’ team we have been working on clarifying direction for Bethel. We have had two mini-retreats, met with leadership, invited the congregation to a Congregational Meeting to discuss this topic and had several one-on-one conversations. What I am presenting is the culmination of those conversations, and the growing conviction of the leadership team on how God is shaping and leading us.
On Sunday we talked about our first three doors (actually I might only have time for two). As a group take time to talk about these doors.
Door #1 - It’s all about one day
Door #2 - It’s all about 7 days
Text: Philippians 2:14-16
Door #1 describes the church that finds its predominant identity in what it does on Sunday. Door #1 describes a church that talks about ministry as though it only existed within the walls of the building. Door #1 is narrow, unimaginative, restricted. It is ruled by the three B’s - Bucks, Bodies and Buildings. It defines ministry in such a way that everyone other than the clergy feel like they are not in ministry.
Door #2- describes a church that understands the importance of the gathered expression of the church, but realizes that it is a feeder to possibly even greater and more impactful expressions of the body of Christ Monday to Saturday (a cul-de-sac vs. an on-ramp) As a church we are choosing to walk through door #2.
On Sunday I interviewed Roy Chan one of our elders on this issue. Discuss some of the questions I asked him.
- How is your work your ministry?
- What does ministry look like at work?
- How does Sunday help you? (Assuming it does. Don’t be afraid to say it doesn’t.)
- What is the subtle message to the career person or stay-at-home mom or retired person when the church says it is all about Sunday?
Door #2 The building is our bridge.
Text: Matthew 5:15
Many believe that being a good steward of our building will involve seeing it used 24/7. Multiple groups addressing a broad range of issues, investing in people and demonstrating Christ’s love. Church buildings are not supposed to be sanctuaries where Christians retreat safely from the rest of the world. They should also not be mystery buildings which the vast majority of the community sees but never enters. They should not be relics of the past, but tools of the present to embrace a needy world. Our building is an aid to achieving our aims of glorifying God.
A fortress is where you can’t see or access what is going on behind the walls. There is a degree of intimidation. But a bridge presents a clear path, accessible, means of entry. We are choosing door #2.
On Sunday I interviewed Ewen Mackenzie one of our elders on this issue. Discuss some of the questions I asked him.
- What do you think the vast majority of Kingstonians think of our building?
- Why the need to be a bridge, not a fortress?
- What might you liken a church to that is full of great resources but does not use its building to be a bridge to the community? (a cruise ship?)
- What kind of people do we need to be to facilitate our building being a bridge?
Think of someone in your life far from God - Are they more likely to come into our building for a ministry of some kind or be more open to talking about spiritual things at Tim Horton’s? We need our building to facilitate ministry to the community but we must go out from it and live out our faith like shining stars. (Phil. 2:15)
Door #1 Fossilize Practices
Door #2 Preserve Principles
Text: Mark 7:8
“When institutions fail to distinguish between current practices and the enduring principles of their success, and mistakenly fossilize around their practices, they’ve set themselves up for decline.” (Jim Collins, How The Mighty Fall, Page 36)
On Sunday I defined practices/traditions as programs, various ways of doing ministry that each generation chooses to reach their generation for Christ.
Danger - We can fossilize those practices. One generation introduces it and it becomes as authoritative and anchored as God’s eternal truth. Thus when we try to change a tradition we have a fight on our hands.
On Sunday we did a silent survey. Discuss these questions as a group.
- Are traditions bad?
- Are there some traditions that need to be kept? Which ones, how do you decide?
- Are some churches dead because they haven’t made this distinction?
- Have people been hurt because changing traditions was not done carefully?
- Have some people been hurt because they were resistant to change, they fossilized practices?
- Have you left a church and come to Bethel because the church you left would not choose the right door?
- Have people left Bethel because they felt that the wrong door was chosen?
- Our identity gets attached to various practices. So much of our Christian experience unfolds with various practices, therefore to change or eliminate a practice is viewed as attacking a persons identity.
- Because change has not been introduced properly. It can be done in a way that makes the old practice and people associated with them seem inferior to the new and better way.
- It represents something we know, are familiar with, are comfortable with.
- We ask the wrong question. The wrong question is – How can this place meet just my needs? vs. How can this place meet our needs and the needs of the greater community? Another great question is, What was the timeless truth that gave birth to this practice/tradition?
Lord make us a Church where we love You passionately and serve others significantly.
Empower us by Your Spirit to be a people of integrity and authenticity. Where Your Spirit is alive and invigorating Your Church to grow in intimacy with God, grow in intimacy with others and grow in acts of service.
May Your unchanging authoritative Word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Deliver us from anything that may hinder our ministry, either here in the downtown core or in our areas of residence and work.
Spare us from pettiness, Church politics, bitter roots and dysfunctional expressions of Church life.
Walk amongst us as you did with the seven Churches and affirm us, rebuke us and purify us.
May we be to each other as “iron sharpening iron”. That through our relationships and partnerships, we gain deeper and clearer insight into what it means to be the Body of Christ in the 21st century.
May Your name be announced as great and Your deeds be proclaimed among the nations as a result of our life together.
From 1874 (founding of Bethel) to this present day we praise You for Your leadership, we acknowledge Your Headship, and humbly come under Your authority.
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org