Church: Comfort and Challenge

An ideal local church should both be comforting AND challenging at the same time.  To do that entails 3 things:

1. Remind me who I am.  We are set apart from the ways of the world, yet are to engage the world with loving sacrifice.  We are the light of the world, salt of the earth, and city on a hill.  We are holy, yet broken.  We are broken, yet holy;  broken yet able to carry the presence and power of Christ.

2. Show me what I can become.  People are encouraged to identify and live out of their SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, experience) and to engage in spiritual habits that grow them deeper.  Roots for growth and strength.  Branches by which to serve: an invitation to live out our calling empowered by the Spirit.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25

I think of my experience at the church I served in St. Louis as an intern and how the church let me explore my gifts.  They were patient with me and let me try different things.  We have to allow people to try and even fail, all the while encouraging them.

3. Hold me accountable.  Accountability involves the art of encouragement and admonishment.

Encouragement is an indispensable part of accountability.  We think mostly of “tough love” admonishment, but without encouragement who can with stand just admonishment?  We need fellow Christ followers who are absolutely convinced that we are great and can do great things.  We need people who applaud us when we succeed and pull us up when we fail.

Holding someone accountable is not easy; it takes discernment.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

Look at those verbs: warn, encourage, help, and be patient.  That is the grammar of accountability and ultimately a healthy church.

 

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