Mark's Minute

Apr 20 2017

In its history, Parkland has never been the church that feels like it has to do what all the other churches do just because they’re doing it. And we’re about to break open the box again. Here’s how.

 
 

One of the restrictions with putting an intro paragraph in the newsletter is that I’m limited to a very small number of words (it’s 200 characters, and I used 198 of them in this week’s intro). So here’s the slightly expanded version of that opening line, along with the rest of this week’s post.

In its history, Parkland has never been the church that feels like it has to do what all the other churches are doing just because the cool kids are doing it. We’ve long been the church that looks at things differently, explores different options, and generally approaches the task of doing church from a perspective that sits outside of the proverbial box.

I love that about us because I tend to be the same. I’m willing to try a lot of things that may or may not work because I think it’s fun. And while I’ve learned that I need to tamp that down for the sake of leading others, nothing sparks my enthusiasm like trying to think of new ways to do things.

In keeping with that spirit (of both the church and of its pastor), we’re about to crack open the box again. We’re not throwing the box away. But we’re going to move its walls a bit. 

Yes, that metaphor is getting too strained, so here’s the deal: over the next few weeks in this space, I’m going to talk about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what we’re hoping to accomplish, and how you can be part of it. 

Today I don’t really want to talk too much about the “what” because “why” is actually the first question. Briefly, though, “what” is that we’re going to be eating a meal together after our services on Sundays, and then sticking around for a time of community-building that’s focused on helping each other apply the gospel to our lives in a way that will bring about kingdom change. More on the specifics next week.

Why are we doing this? Let me start with why we aren’t doing it. We’re not doing this because we think it’s fun to eat together (although it is). We’re not doing this because I’m too lazy to go home and make my kids grilled cheese sandwiches. And we’re not doing it to build superficial connections between people and force camaraderie on the church and end up with a bunch of insincere smiles.

We’re doing this because we want to bring God glory. We doing this as an act of worship. And we’re doing it because we believe that Christian discipleship is about walking on God’s pathway together as one body, with one purpose, which is to pursue maturity in Christ and call others to the same pursuit. 

Parkland’s ability to succeed in its kingdom mission is dependent upon our ability to do three things (and you might know them by now because of my constant repetition): love God, join in, and lead others. As disciples, we commit our lives to Jesus and grow to be more like him; we commit to a local church as God’s plan A for missional achievement; and we steward our time, talent, and treasure to help the body grow and bring others into the kingdom.

We will only succeed if we do the work together. We can only do it together when we know one another. And we can only know one another if each of us is willing to be known. It’s hard to take that step, especially if you’ve taken it before and it hasn’t gone well. But, to use an illustration, food has occasionally made me sick, but that doesn’t mean I stop eating because without food I’d die.

In the same way, our discipleship will be stunted and anemic unless we’re willing to risk openness and transparency in the context of gospel relationships. Our worshipful act of surrender to the community of God’s people acknowledges our willingness to follow Jesus’ plan, and it brings glory to God.

And that’s what this is all about.

More next week…

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