Monday, August 06, 2007

The Purpose of the Church

When I arrived at Ridge Church, one of the spoken goals was to become a church like 1st Methodist in Hammond. As I understood that to mean, it was to be a church that was taking the lead on issues in the community --- a church that the other churches looked to for guidance and direction. A church that was leading the way, and not lagging behind.

While 1st Methodist in Hammond is no longer that type of church --- Ridge is. There is no greater form of flattery that imitation, and as I drove past another church in town I saw on their sign that they were starting up a after school "open gym" type of ministry. I think that is great, but we have been doing it, and doing it well for 3 years now! That is just one of many signs that Ridge is THE mainline protestant church in Munster today. HOWEVER!

I feel a sense of fatigue at Ridge Church right now. The "workers" all seem tired. Statistics have shown time and time again that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. The same, unfortunately is also true in giving.

Whenever there is that sense of fatigue we are left with two choices. The first choice, and the one most commonly chosen, is to pull back, retrench and do nothing. Unfortunately, you don't stand still --- you fall backward. The second choice is to re-evaluate what you are doing and why you are doing it and reclaim the mission, vision and values of the organization.

So what is the purpose of Ridge Church? "Traditionally," the mission of the church has been to save souls for Jesus Christ. And often "saving" is defined very narrowly to mean, saving from HELL and into HEAVEN. Is that the mission of Ridge Church?

Instead of answering this question myself, I want to pose it to you. What is the purpose of the Church? And are we doing that at Ridge Church? Of course, I have a whole litany of answers to that question, and I will share them in a future blog, but I want you to take a stab at it. (By the way, the staff will wrestle with this tomorrow at our staff meeting.)

The second question follows from the first: what are the most important things that we must be doing to become what we believe we are supposed to be.

I am looking forward to hearing your comments.


Heidi said...

I believe the purpose of the "church" is to make everyone feel welcome. Welcome to worship, welcome to learn, welcome to someone/somewhere different than they can receive in the rest of the world. A safe place, where regardless of their financial/social status in the community, they feel wanted and welcome. That is the kind of GOD I have always believed in, this kind of GOD who isn't mean, scary or waiting to drop something on our heads when we prove just how human we really are. My parents always portrayed a GOD who loved us all, in spite of ourselves at times, but nonetheless loved each of us. A GOD who was saddened when we mad mistakes, when we didn't stand up for the weakest, but still loved us. I'm sure that sounds too idealist for most, but then again, maybe that is what the "world" is really looking for. Regardless that is the GOD I know.

Steve Conger said...

Thanks Heidi,

I like the way that you put it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone saw God in such a loving way, instead of the angry Dad that God is often shown as being, a God who is "disappointed" in us, and feels the need to "punish" us.

Thanks again!