A recent trip we took to Santa Barbara, California was influential in recalibrating my sense of purpose. The fresh air, the ocean and a recounting by a member of the community, of the story of the Christian missions planted across California. The member of the community had been taught a revisionist view of the historical planting of the Christian Missions across the state of California.
Not knowing I was a Christian pastor he related that the missions were planted so that the Christians could force locals to turn from their religions and become Christians. He stated it as fact and in the same breath seemed to dismiss Christianity as having any value at all. Perhaps he had once been in a Christian church as a young child or young adult. Whatever the story of his life it raised, for me, the value of authentic Christianity lived out in community. It would be hard to believe that this individual who was discounting Christianity as just another group of religious bigots, had ever had a true meaningful encounter with the Christian community.
He may well have attended a Christian church a time or two or even as a child but had he ever seen Christ at work in the life of a true follower of Jesus? Across America the Christian church buildings are visible the question is can anyone see Jesus?
The call of God is first and foremost to personal relationship. Our buildings have no kingdom value if the people in them are not surrendered followers of Jesus Christ. Whose kingdom are we building? Every pastor loves a big crowd on Sunday. I am in that group. It is wonderful so see the building filled with people. I know how hard our volunteers and leadership teams work all week long to prepare for the Sunday gathering. But I am unwilling to trade authentic Christianity for a crowd.
In the end, I want people to answer the call to relationship with Jesus before they answer the call to membership. You are welcome here but do not leave without making Jesus Lord and Leader of your life. If all we did was entertain you for an hour or excite you with the momentum of the crowd…WE FAILED. Showing up is huge but I want more than that for you. I want you to personally know the God of Christianity. I want you to surrender your life to Him. I want you to LIVE out Christianity in the community for all to see.
We can have both the King and the Crowd when the King is King of our hearts. Our motive must be that our personal relationship with Jesus is a life priority. I am most effective for His Kingdom when I am completely surrendered to His Lordship over my life.
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