Thursday, March 3, 2011

Making a Difference

I started this blog to encourage people to tell me how we can make church better. By that I mean how do we share the unchangeable and life changing message of Jesus Christ in a way that is winsome. Over and over again I hear people say they are all for Jesus but are put off by his followers. Where's the disconnect? What is it that the church does that doesn't accurately reflect Christ? What should we not be doing and what should we be doing.

Christ is at the core. The message is that, because of our sin and the price that is required for that sin, Christ came to reveal God's father heart to us and then die in our place to pay the price for our sin. That's a hard message. First because it means we must grapple with the truth that we are fallen sinners stained from birth with a mark that condemns us eternally and there's no amount of good works we can do to save ourselves. If you don't accept that truth it's hard to get to the next point. That is Christ paid the price of our sin so that we no longer need to live in bondage to it. We are set free from the condemnation of God by the grace of God. God has both established the penalty for our selfish, sinful rebellion and paid that same penalty in order to restore us to himself.

So how do we get that message of hope, freedom, grace and mercy out to a world that's desperately seeking satisfaction in any number of counterfeit ways? My concern is how to make church better not for the sake of the church but for the sake of those who need what the church has to offer. Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior brings with it the gift of eternity in the presence of God. It also sets us free to serve others with reckless abandon in ways that shock the sinful, self-focused, lost people in this world. Jesus has set us free to make a difference by acting with compassion to help people who are in need. People who are struggling with poverty, illness, imprisonment, hunger, loneliness and, a friend of mine says, dealing with life on life's terms. When we know Jesus we share Jesus. When we share Jesus lives are changed.

When I ask 'How do we make church better?' I'm asking how do we remove the barriers so that people can see Jesus.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Venture

I don't know how many people read this blog but I'm guessing very few since I post so very infrequently. But for the few of you who do read this I'm looking for input as I get up to speed on my new job. One of the key things I'm to be developing is microfinance/microbusiness ventures in developing countries through indigenous ministries.

Now, there are more and more organizations doing this type of thing. The sweetheart of the charitable world right now is the Acumen Fund, of which I'm a big fan. However, the need in the world is absolutely ginormous so another group doing this isn't counterproductive. More importantly, I'm not aware of any Christian organization that has a global strategy to lift people out of poverty through microfinance and microbusiness training.

While I have a huge vision for this I lack significant experience. So, as I start my new job at Lutheran Church Charities I'm seeking all the input and assistance I can gather. If you're familiar with microbusiness in developing countries, microfinance, banking, small business accountability structures or related fields I would love to talk with you. If you know someone with experience in these areas I would love to talk with them. Just introduce us! Addressing poverty on a global scale through a new kind of Christian mission has the potential to be the future of the Church. I'm talking about a Christian mission that doesn't send 'foreigners' to do the work or keep flooding people with money and materials that make them dependent. I'm talking about genuine partnerships with faithful Christians who only need a little boost, a meaningful partnership, to expand what they're already doing. I'm talking about Christian mission that holds up high standards of accountability, sustainability, and indigenous ownership of all the mission work.

We can remake the face of Christian mission. Never in history has there been so much interest from such a wide variety of folks in helping those in dire need. From titans of the tech world like Bill Gates to rock legends like Bono people are working hard to address needs. Christians led this charge in quiet, often unrecognized ways for centuries. Now we can applaud those who are awakening to charity and make sure the Church doesn't get pushed out in the process. Jesus called us to lives of mercy and compassion. Will you help me navigate through the process of reinventing missions? Please comment with your ideas, thoughts and concerns. Thanks!