Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Revision: a new perspective on community

i have really felt some prodding from the Lord to type this post. and i have avoided doing so in the past b/c i wanted to be sure that i chose my words carefully, and that i never come off as being judgmental or critical but that i always speak the truth, in love. i'm certainly not about to "preach" to anyone. no sermons here. i just wanted to share my heart; how the Lord has changed me concerning the way i view church & how i see a serious, pressing need for real community in our churches & our personal lives.

Ben & I have had the joy of serving at 3 wonderful churches. we have gotten to serve some precious people & learn some invaluable lessons. we have had hard, frustrating times & sweet blessings. we truly believe that the Lord placed us in each church, for a season & a specific reason. (like my mad rhyming skills?!) we were saved, called into ministry, dated, engaged, married, newlyweds & new parents all under the umbrella & authority of our church leadership. i know God is sovereign. and looking back, i can see how His hand was always working. always guiding us in the right direction to get to this very point in our lives.

i have been in church since my mom was pregnant with me. i remember faithfully attending. it was not an option to stay home from church, unless we were sick or had just come home from traveling, late the night before. we were active in the children's ministry, youth ministry and college ministry. and i loved church. my best friends were at church. Ben & I met at church. i didn't ever hate going on Sundays & Wednesdays. but i did NOT understand the value of community, discipleship & being plugged in & active in the local church. i now realize the importance of these things.

Revision Church has been a labor of love. it has not been the easiest journey. there have been countless hours of prayer poured into this church plant. it has been an answer to prayer for those of us involved. we have worked hard and our husbands have worked even harder. we have given of our time, our money & ourselves to this work of ministry. we truly have a heart for Olive Branch. and we want to see it become a city that loves Jesus, not just another notch on the bible belt. it is NOT our church, it is the Lord's. we recognize that He has done the real work & provided for ALL of our needs. we have merely been His workers. we do not claim to be perfect & we know that Revision is not perfect. and its probably not for everyone.

we don't want to be a click or another social gathering. we don't want our small groups to be light hearted & flippant. we want them to be real, honest times of studying God's word & reflecting on the sermon from that morning. we want to use that time to love on people, to listen to their heart, to pray with them & be a friend that provides godly counsel when needed. we want members that are willing & wanting to work. to reach the community. to be faithful in attendance, to tithe & to have a heart for people we serve.

the Lord has taught me in the past 6 months that church is so much more than a service, with good preaching and christian music. it is an overflow. it is a time to come together, as the corporate body of Christ to worship Him for all that He has done & taught us during the week. it is a time to come & receive the milk of the word. because we are supposed to be getting the meat of the word, on our own, during the week. because we are seeking Him, praying to Him & meditating on His word. it is a time to offer up praise & give thanks to the Lord. and during the week, we are loving on people. we are spending time with those in our small group. we are praying for them, encouraging them & meeting their needs. we are being intentional. we are discipling those in our church that need it. (isn't that all of us?!) we are staying in communication & making it a point to invest in those in our church family. we are doing service projects in Olive Branch.

church is NOT a spectator sport. it is NOT a place to only attend twice a week. it is NOT an attitude of trying to avoid people. it is NOT a heart of wanting to move away. or a spirit of dreadfulness when a church member wants to spend time with you, in your home. it is NOT a greedy or prideful heart that stands in the background, avoiding conversation & unwilling to serve. it is NOT a place where we put self first & worry about how we are being ministered to. it is NOT a complaining voice that says "i'm doing too much work, other people aren't working as hard as me" or a gossiping tongue that is quick to put others down. it is NOT about you as the individual member.

church IS a place of community. church IS a place where you get involved, get active & get intentional about spending time with those in your church family. church IS a heart of wanting to live in the center of it all. wanting to open your home & have it be a place of refuge not only for your family but those who need it. in both a spiritual & physical sense. church IS a joyful spirit & happy heart when someone asks for time in your week. church IS getting your hands dirty, serving our guts out, cooking a meal for someone & making playdates. church IS caring more about how you can love on someone, pray for them & encourage them. church IS about reaching out & realizing that even if someone, in their sin is hurtful, it is worth it because you loved like Jesus. church IS about being early or on time so that you can help out & staying late so that you can clean up. it is a voice that says "what else can i do to help, where can i serve you the most, or what do you need this week?" church IS an edifying tongue & willing to rebuke, in love, when necessary. church IS about accountability & discipleship. church IS about Jesus & His work.

whew. i needed to say that. for myself. and for others. i think it is SO very easy to get lost in the busyness and routine of church. it is so easy to become uninvolved & uncaring. it is hard to be intentional, to be sacrificial & to be loving, at every moment. the Lord has gotten all over my heart & attitude about these things.

i am a busy mom of 2 sweet toddlers. BUT i have time for others. i have time for Jesus and the things that He wants me to do. it is all about priorities and heart motives.

i am thankful for Revision Church. and all that i have learned in this process. i still have SO much to learn. but i want to be teachable & available. i want Jesus to use me, empty me & fill me. i want to be a church member & pastor's wife that is honoring to the Lord. that is an example to young women & a prayer warrior for others.

i am thankful for our staff guys. they are incredible. not perfect. definitely silly. but they love Jesus. they love their wives. they love their families. they love the church. and they love olive branch. they have made mistakes along the way. and they will never do everything in a way that pleases every single person. but its not about that. its about receiving the vision the Lord has given you, praying through it, seeking counsel, studying scripture & then working it out. and they have done these things. they are using their talents for Christ. they are like minded on the things that matter & accept personal differences.

i am not trying to promote Revision. i don't want my heart's cry to be our church. i want it to be Jesus. i know there are wonderful, community centered churches in our area. and i am so thankful for them. but this is where i am in life. this is where we have dropped our anchor. this is where we are serving. and we love it. we feel at home. at peace. and content. we are looking forward to many, many years here. we are thankful to be able to raise our children in this place. there have been hard days, tough moments & stressful times. and there will be many more in the future. because we are sinful & we serve a sinful people. but, we are confident in our calling. there have been more sweet times than hard times. we have best friends here. family. and we are so thankful.

so blessed to have community. i know people in ministry get burned out & church can become obligatory. but i'm praying that it never becomes so in my life. praying that each day the Lord gives me a fresh perspective & that i always love His work. praying that my marriage & children are protected & never forgotten. praying that others come to know Him & that Olive Branch is changed for Jesus. praying that church members have the right heart attitude & serve with joy. praying that the gospel is always at the center of our ministry.

Acts 20:28
"keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."

Romans 12:3-5
"For by the grace given me i say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function. so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others."

Colossians 3:14-16
"and over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since of members of one body your were called to peace. and be thankful. let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God"

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