…Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” _John 20:21
Sunday afternoon, we worked a bit on this question: why do we do what we do as a church-community? We’ve been trying to answer this over the last several weeks and months ever since we started gathering people together, building the community of Awaken. And our answers (coming from our Core Team) seem to be pretty clear…we (Awaken) exist to extend the love of Jesus to others by extending ourselves relationally, discovering ways to serve our neighbors and our city, and ultimately leading others to discover that their heart matters to God by creating an authentic community for people to belong to. …and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
This week, I’m attending the National New Church Conference with some of my friends from the Greensboro area who, with other pastors from all over the U.S., are establishing new church communities for similar reasons. While here, I’ve already been confronted with a deeper question I’ve been dealing with for some time – a question that every church must ultimately seek to answer: If our church ceased to exist, would your city be affected? If our church vanished, would our community weep?
Jesus’ message is clear on this: The Church (the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today, including Awaken) does not exist for itself, but for the world. As Rob Bell puts it, “The Church is the only organization in the world that does not exist for its members, but for the good of the world.” Sometimes we get this idea messed up, thinking the church exists for our good, a place for us to be fed, to grow and to benefit. But that’s not God’s heart. As we see in Luke 15:1-7, His heart is focused on the lost sheep, and that’s His heart for the Church (for us) today.
As we’ve shared some beautiful stories over the last few weeks about how our community has served to bless those who are part of it (answered prayers, a place of encouragement and support for those struggling with situations in life, a community of love and acceptance, etc.), we’re reminded of others in our city who still have not experienced and encountered Jesus in these ways through a community like Awaken. And that is, and always will be, the biggest reason why we exist. Wholeness and completeness in our own lives is found in nothing else than this very reason.
We do not exist for ourselves; we exist for the world.
When we discover this (not only in our church-communities, but also on a personal level) we discover a fulfillment and satisfaction in life, “laying hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:19) That’s God’s life. He proves Himself to be a servant through Jesus, and that’s the life He invites us into.