Monday, August 18, 2014

Gandhi was right.

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I hate that I need this book in my life. But I love that I found it.  


Jen Hatmaker is one of my favorite authors.  I follow and share her blog posts regularly.  She is relatable and funny and cute and convicting.  She's the kind of gal I could have over for coffee and chat with for hours.  If she weren't all the way in Texas, that is.  

Jen is an accomplished writer, speaker, and mother of 5.  Together with her pastor husband, Brandon, they started Austin New Church in Austin, Texas.  Interrupted follows Jen and Brandon as they go through the process of leaving a lucrative position at another church in Austin to tread the uncertain path of planting a new church with very little direction other than the following verses from the Bible: Matthew 25 and Isaiah 58.  

Go ahead, look them up.  Start with Matthew 25:34:40.  Then read Isaiah 58:6-9.  I use The Message translation quite often, but you know what?  No real need to clarify Greek or Latin word roots here, friends.  In any translation the meaning is clear: Care for each other as you would care for yourself.  Give special attention to the least among you.  It's pretty much all Jesus ever talked about.  

But is your church doing that?  Do you feel it at Sunday morning worship?  In your weekly Bible study?  In your private prayers?  Are you truly serving the needy, or serving the already saved?  

Yes, our churches do good in our communities.  No doubt, no argument. We might even baptize new members from time to time or welcome visitors.  But in a postmodern world where more and more people grew up unchurched or are suspicious of organized religion, I  don't think our church model is winning hearts and minds for Christ like we think we are.  

And I think it all goes back to Gandhi's quote: "Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Because, friends, we are not living the mission Christ set out for us.  We all too often stay in our little bubbles, among people just like us, watching the suffering around us and feeling overwhelmed into inaction. We put all our hope in our Sunday worship service (or Bible study, or women's group, or prayer team meeting...) to fill us up, but it doesn't. And it won't, until the served start serving others.

I know this because I live this. And it's time for a change.  The people who truly need us and our church? They may never walk through our doors.  We need to go to them.

Jen Hatmaker writes in Intertupted, "Love has won infinitely more converts than theology...your pastor or your church can never reach your coworker like you can.  They do not have the sway over your neighbor who has been entrusted to you.  No one better than you can love your wayward brother.  One decent sermon cannot influence a disoriented person in the same way your consistent presence in her life can."

But how do we do this?  Hatmaker has years of experience to share:

"We can continue to invite unbelievers to church, but we must first invite them into our lives.  Have them over, go to dinner, welcome them in. Create a safe place for them to belong without agenda; they needn't worry about following our Christian rules yet (or pretending in front of us).  We must become their advocates, embracing them as dear friends so they might one day feel comfortable belonging with us.  This is not a strategy for rapid church growth, but the patient hard work of love is the way of Christ.  It is the subversive path into the kingdom." 

And it's exactly what Jesus did.  He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes.  He hung out with smelly fishermen.  He became their friend first.  

Can we Christians be more like Christ?  Let's prove Gandhi wrong.  

This book is especially convicting for me because of our family ministry.  I'm happy to try to be an example for the members of my congregation and community.  And I'd love to sit down with anyone who will listen and talk about this book.   I'm even willing to spot you the book.  

It's my first giveaway! I'm giving away a copy of the newly revised and expanded Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. To enter, comment below (not on Facebook, please comment directly on the blog).  Tell me about the best thing your church does to reach out to your community, not just your members.  Or tell me about something you do personally to reach out to people outside your church.  I'll randomly choose a winner from the posted comments on Wednesday, August 20.  

Good luck, and happy commenting!  


7 comments:

  1. Our church's VBS is an outreach into our community- we always have about 50% church kids and 50% non church kids. It's such a privilege to share the gospel in this way!

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  2. Our church partners with a local public school to help the underprivileged children. They serve a weekly dinner. I have four kids ages 2 to. 9, and I wish I were able to help with something like this, but I find it hard to reach out in this stage of life. We do help with a homeless ministry once a quarter when our church houses the families in our Suday School classrooms.

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  3. Our church has always made helping our community a priority -- right now they are putting together a team to help local families who have been cited for city code violations (weeds, painting projects, etc). We will go and help them get back into good graces with the city and show them that we really want to love our neighbors.

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    1. Congrats! You're my giveaway winner! Email me your address at Christina.krost@gmail.com so I can mail you your book!

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  4. Love your comments! Share with your friends and keep 'em coming!
    And...get out there and share some love today!

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  5. We did our back to school event at our church. We provided 6 students with school supplies, shoes, and haircuts. It was small in numbers, but it did make an impact.

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  6. I've I've attempted to contact my giveaway winner to no avail. I've chosen another winner.

    ReplyDelete

 
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