Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Excerpts from CCEF Paper #3: Counseling in the Local Church

Life Together

"God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious...He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself" (Page 27and 28).

My ideal picture of Christian community has been “destroyed” a couple of times in my current ministry. I have often despaired, seeing “the community going to smash” in my mind’s eye.

When I first came to pastor the church I serve, they were hungry for a good small group ministry. So, I immediately dreamed up a scheme for multiplying groups. We started with three, then grew to four, then seven, then...a big fat zero–not enough personnel resources to keep it going. The whole idea languished for a few years until I took a doctoral class on building an effective small group ministry and wrote a twenty-six page strategy for building a healthy Christian community. In three years, this, too, has met with only moderate success–much to my complaining chagrin.

As I read Life Together, I realized that one of the reasons for the failure of these attempts to build Christian community is my idolatrous wish dreams for them. I want my plan to succeed. I want to be the pastor that led this church into dynamic spiritual growth through my exceeding wisdom. And when it doesn’t work, I often turn to accusation. But “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal but a divine reality,” and God’s grace has “speedily shatter[ed] such dreams” as I’ve put forward.

What I need to do now is to return to the divine reality of Christian brotherhood as it is in God’s mind, not mine, and humbly lead my flock into His green pastures. We need to build our fellowship on the foundation that has already been laid by the Crosswork of the Lord Jesus Christ and no other. Ultimately, it won’t look as I dream, and I will be grateful.