There are essentially three different umbrellas that God put in place for us – His people… God. Family. Country (the Government). (And yes – regardless of who sits in the Oval Office – your candidate or another, that person is there because God has given them their authority… but that’s for another post.)
How effective are we at finding the shelter of each? How effective are we at being part of the shelter of each for others? A big problem happened somewhere in time that is hard to change. The problem is the size and order of those umbrellas. His design was of course that He would be our all encompassing shelter. Family, friends and the church designed to co-exist and to co-compliment one another, and the government as our authority – given by him.
In reality, today – we have forgotten Hs order and His priorities … The government being one that has somehow morphed into something way bigger – and we have allowed it to happen by just being complacent and watching it happen. I blame us far more than I blame politicians.
Somewhere, somehow as a community of Christ Followers we became known more as a group of sayers instead of doers. We had the right ideas – given to us directly from Words in Red in the Bible… we just stopped or slowed down in practicing them.
Instead of being Churches and communities that looked like Acts 2:42-47, we became multi-million dollar tech/gadget loaded theaters putting on really amazing plays and musicals. A $40 million dollar “sanctuary” that seats 10,000 and has enough multi-media in it to sustain an arena rock band? Check. A homeless population in the city right around said sanctuary big enough to fill said “sanctuary” 10 times over? Check.
No – I’m not saying we shouldn’t have facilities or even multimedia/tech/gadgets. (I am a self proclaimed tech-nerd!) It’s about priority though… When our umbrellas’ sizes and order get mixed up – we lose. And instead of a country that believes in God first… We see God last. People in need no longer look to the church and their community for help – they look to the church for a great Sunday morning experience with a gourmet coffee and an amazing light show… they look to politicians, government programs and handouts… because they are there, and for a long time… we have not been.
And yes – I do know all of the arguments for the gigantic, well equipped, hipster environment churches. Consumers in a consumer society want comfort, feel good messages, delivered in a culturally relevant package that it isn’t intimidating. Then seekers will come… learn about Jesus… get themselves saved… invite their unsaved friends in and the cycle keeps going. OK. I get that. The one problem I have is that target word consumers. It can’t be solely about consuming! It has to be about providing!
What does it take to shift things back? It takes one person. No I am not talking about the president – this isn’t about politics or a presidential race. The one person is you. It’s me. It’s each of us saying that we are tired of talking and ready to start doing.
Is Eastside perfect? H – E- Double Hockey Stick- NO! But we are moving towards it. It’s why we have the 4 Purposes we follow as a church… (Love God & People, Build Relationships, Make A Difference, Show God’s Relevance) It’s why we established Help Build Hope in our community to help families in need and focus on kids in socio-econimically challenged situations.
Do we have a building? Yes. Do we have technology? Yes. Will we invest more in those two than in the people around us? Thankfully no. Not any more. Do I still get pushback about our direction? Yep.
We still have a great experience on Sunday morning and love to meet new people – so stop by! It’s not about doing away with that … It’s about making our focus being a community of believers – not trying to start some revolutionary idea – but to get back to an old idea. An idea put in place by Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40). People are what matters and we have to be about them first.
God. Family. Country.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.