Monday, February 23, 2009

Honoring profundity...Why we have the Gathering

Audie Osborn is a long time resident of these parts and is also a wonderful friend. He and his wife, Jackie and I and two other families founded Estrella Mountain Church in the suburbs of Phoenix. Audie's ability to have a grasp of the life of God and to be dissatisfied with all the substitues have annealed our hearts over the years.

There has been an ongoing dialog about the Gathering (the weekly ministry meeting where we worship, tell stories, teach and inspire) amongst the volunteers around Crosswind. Our desire is that the Gathering stay on point: "To stir on another up to love and good works". The meeting has wonderful music, which I just love. It has punchy outreach challenges through video, heartwarming real time stories about lives that God is touching right here in Corinth, stories of freedom from addiction, Sunday School classes catching the outreach vision, etc. And we have teaching... about ministry, about God's love, etc. But.... is that the desired result of the Gathering? Can't the weekly meeting become an end unto itself and not propel us out the doors into ministry and life with each other?

So much focus in our era has been on "sweetening the weekly tea", and while our ministry meeting has value, if it does not push us out of the building where our mission and our passion and our calling is, than we have failed each other in its purpose. Well, that's what we were chatting about lately.

Audie is a digester. He's one of those quiet types who has a lot to say but it usually doesn't get heard cause blowhards like me are too busy rattling our traps to listen to him. So... he sent me an e-mail. I want you to read it. Then read it again. He's smarter than us. That's okay though. If you read it a couple times you'll get it. Took me three.

A fleeting thought crossed my mind, and I am sending it along before it gets lost. In response to your comment yesterday that the Gathering mustn't overshadow the charitable and "good news" aspects of the ministry, I agree. What we do outside the compound is what makes CW unique in its beginnings and will keep it unique in its maturity. At the same time, you cannot underestimate the weekly worship as an essential attribute of God's people (that is, we exist to worship God) and a psychological identity session for all the mixed multitude that attends. To focus on the latter, a group of generic do-gooders without a central identity as the church universal will devolve into a multi-personality mess. The group needs to know who it is and why it is there, and it needs to be reminded weekly. Philanthropy is good in its own right, but it doesn't have an eternal view. Philanthropy in the church springs from an eternal view, that is, the bread we feed them is inseparable from the Bread of Heaven. So this is my encouragement that you not underestimate the role you play in bringing the Bread of Heaven each week. That's all, and I apologize if all I have done is restate the obvious."

Well... wudn't obvious to me! ...Is now though.


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