“It seems like we need an earthquake to dislodge both feet out of our churches so that we can get one foot in the community.”
Jesus Builds and Loves the Church
The missional footprint Abraham leaves in the dirt is a great place for you to step into if you hope to position yourself to make a Jesus collision where you live. To make that step, it’s crucial that you understand the importance of your local church. Jesus said to the apostle Peter, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). If nothing else, the church is important and has high priority because it is the single entity on earth that Jesus says he is building. Jesus doesn’t say he’s building a mall, a corporation or even a ministry; he’s building his church. He’s building the church to the degree that he will not allow the opposing forces of Hades to overcome it. The church will be built, and no force in the universe can stop it!
Jesus is building his church to fulfill his mission and purpose on the earth—and, more specifically, in your community. The church is the instrument God is using to expand his kingdom on earth. That means if you are a part of the church, you are a part of the movement God is using to expand his kingdom where you live.
Jesus is not only the builder of the church; he is also the lover of the church. Sometimes I think we have no idea of the incredible love he has for his church. With all the church’s imperfections, faults and quirks, Jesus is still madly in love with her. Unfortunately, people fall in and out of love with the local church all the time. The reasons for that lost love are as varied as the different types of cars on the road. Bureaucracy, egomaniac leaders, money issues, irrelevant values, broken trust, boring services, hypocrites—the reasons go on and on.
Let’s be honest; no local church is a ten. I frequently say to our congregation, “No church is perfect. If our church used to be perfect, it was wrecked when I became the pastor and some of you became members.” Everybody laughs and shakes their heads, but the statement is true. Our Redeemer is perfect, but the church still has a way to go. The church is not Cinderella at the ball; we’re more like Cinderella at home, living in the attic among the cinders, waiting in hope and expectation of her prince coming.
Yet you and I are still called to love what Jesus loves. He loves his church, and so should you and I. Living life in your local community of faith is necessary—even essential—and Jesus expects it of you.
Included in the missional footprint are not only your local church but your community as well. Let me float a claim here: No matter where you live—uptown, midtown or way downtown—your community is in need of a Jesus collision. As long as a community isn’t located in Heaven, ruins are present somewhere.
Our church is in one of the hottest and fastest-growing stretches of real estate in the city of Portland. Phenomenal new buildings are being constructed around us, and fantastic new restaurants line the streets. Our community was listed as the number-one destination for hipsters in the country. And the prediction is that thousands more will move in during the next few years.
As great as all that may be, we are still surrounded by ruins: broken families, violence, abuse, educational struggles, hunger and homelessness, isolation, mental illness—just to name a few. Where people abound, ruins abound.