(Mat 13:31-32) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
How is your congregation a place where birds come and perch? How do you offer sanctuary to those who need it?
(Mat 18:23) “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. …
Is your church a place where servants forgive as they’ve been forgiven? A place that generously offers forgiveness to its own members?
(Luke 14:15-24) When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. …
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'”
How is your congregation like man preparing a great banquet who invites many guests?
We live in a highly individualistic, highly consumerist society. Our members attend church looking for what services the church has to offer them. They feel far too little loyalty to their congregations, treating them like spiritual malls. And at just the time we need to be working against the culture and the self-centeredness of much of America and pleading with our members to become truly committed to our communities, I see a push toward a highly individualistic religion. It worries me.
Isn’t the central problem that we want to overcome with spiritual disciplines selfishness? Isn’t that the root of our problem with divorce? Isn’t that much of the struggle to be the church God called us to be?
And isn’t the solution to selfishness serving others? I mean, if the church continues to serve its members while not insisting that they become servants, how much like Jesus will our members be? And how can our members become servants other than by serving?
You see, I’m persuaded that much of the problem of our individual Christians is a problem of our churches as institutions. We aim too low. We coddle and cater to our members rather than placing before them a banquet of Godly mission to be shared with the world. Why are we surprised that they aren’t excited? We’ve trained them to be consumers, not servants, and one day, we leaders will have to answer for it.