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I Love the Church

176622_472994359411419_2056860553_oYou’ve probably never heard of Current — A Christian Church. It is not the goal of any church to be heard of. Recognition and self-promotion are not the job of any congregation. Rather, the church exists to be the people of God gathered together on a mission to bring God’s Kingdom to pass.

In thinking about what I love about Current, I also got to thinking about what I loved about all the churches I’ve had the privilege of serving over the years. Ultimately, it’s appreciation for The Church (global, diverse, beautiful) that I feel today as I ruminate on all these things. Since I presently call Current home, I’d like to share some things with you about this particular congregation that illustrate the broader excitement growing in the church worldwide.

The Church is Growing

There is a lot of fuss made these days about the church dying. And it’s true, the practice of religion in general and Christianity in particular is on the decline in some places. But globally, the church remains a robust force for global good.

600px-Christian_distribution

This map shows the prominence of Christianity by color. The darker the color, the more common it is to find a practicing Christian. There is still a light shading that extends from North African west to China (the 10/40 Window, as it’s referred to by missiologists). But the Gospel is growing in the south and the east by record numbers. Many estimates indicate that there are well over 60 million believers in China, practicing their faith at the risk of their lives.

While growth may have slowed to some degree here in the States, that is not true in every instance. My church, Current, has seen incredible growth in recent years. I remember visiting Current for the first time in the spring of 2011, when attendance hovered around the 600 mark. This past weekend, 1230 people worshiped together. That’s the most on a non-Easter we’ve ever had. Many churches around the country celebrate similar growth, and it’s exciting. (I recognize church attendance doesn’t say everything, but it does say something.)

There are more megachurches than ever. Two thousand plus member churches have more than quadrupled in the last two decades, and some congregations have grown so large that people who study that kind of stuff have dubbed a new title for them: gigachurches. While some criticize that most of these congregations simply steal from others, this critique doesn’t hold a lot of water. The vast majority of Christians in America still worship at a church of 200 or less. I would add anecdotally that these larger congregations reach more non-believers because a.) they are usually in cities where more non-Christians reside and b.) they are less churchy and more attractive to the unchurched.

With 2.2 billion adherents (at varying levels of commitment, I grant you), Christianity is alive and well.

The Church is Taking a Stand

Some people accuse modern-day preachers of fluffing up their messages so as not to offend, and this certainly is the practice of some. It has become in fashion to call some of these folks out publicly, but I don’t care to do that here. But I will say this–you can be a great motivational speaker and a lousy preacher. I have no qualms with being a rah-rah guy. What I do take exception to is saying you’re a preacher of the Gospel and then never talking about the Gospel.

Also, if your hair is too well-kept, I’m usually suspicious. But that’s my issue. I am a jealous, balding man.

We should not despair over our well-groomed brothers and sisters. Just as common as the motivational gurus are preachers who–much to some people’s chagrin–lay out the Gospel in plain language. They don’t dodge tough issues, they tell it like it is, and they speak boldly on issues that require a firm stance. Whether they are preaching sermons or granting interviews or writing books, they have a Bible in one hand and a strong take in the other. I think this is a good thing. In a world where we tend to only run with people who agree with us, we need people in our face now and then, telling us the truth whether we want to hear it or not.

UnknownSo give your screen a fist bump for guys like Kyle Idleman, David Platt, Matt Chandler, and many others. The church is better because of dudes like them. Be sure that for every popular speaker/author that you admire for being a straight shooter, there are dozens just like them that carry on their ministries in anonymity.

I’m proud that at Current that same honest tone saturates our teaching. We tell the truth. We’re not jerks, we don’t condescend, we aren’t hateful, and we don’t pick on people. But when the Bible has something to say, we say it. Even if it’s difficult. Funny enough, this is one of the things people appreciate most about our church. We don’t shy away from tough stuff.

Currently (no pun intended), we are in a series called All In. We’re exploring what it means to fully follow Jesus with unrestrained devotion. I love what our website says, “We can be a church that sits back and holds back — or we can be a church that goes ALL IN.” I can’t wait to see what God does through this teaching of the truth and the willingness of His people to take risks and follow Jesus with all we are.

The Church is Helping People

I also really, really love that the church is helping people. Fewer and fewer churches can be accused of being a holy huddle or a Christian country club where everyone sticks to themselves. Churches are very active in their communities–local and abroad. This is true at Current and most churches I know. In a world where there’s tragedy, poverty, and personal trials of many kinds, it is so exciting to be a part of a group of people that want to help others.

Helping-HandChurch’s don’t like to talk about how much they do because it sounds like we’re bragging. But good grief. In the book of Acts, Luke talks about how the church cared for each other. That’s not bragging…it’s the church being the church!

Just today I texted a good friend and mentor of mine who is helping to lead the charge of recovery in the devastating Colorado flood zones.

This past summer, I had some students in our ministry who needed help paying for church camp. I made the amount known, hoping we could gather enough folks together to chip in and cover the cost. One lady called me and asked what we needed. I told her the figure, and she said she’d drop a check off for the full amount that weekend.

Last week, there was a guy here who was down in the dumps. He’d found a job, was working hard, but with all his bills and difficulty he just needed some help. We talked, we prayed, and I sent him on his way with some gas money on behalf of the church. I saw him today and asked him how he was doing. “Much, much better,” he answered.

More personally, during our recent house search, my wife and I have received numerous offers to stay with folks, help packing, or “whatever else you need.” When I was a kid it was the church that often paid for me to go on trips or left a Christmas gift on my front porch.

Great organizations like World Vision, Hope Mob, and Samaritans Purse are doing unbelievable work eradicating hunger, meeting unique needs, and providing disaster relief all in Jesus name. Here’s a list of organizations my wife and I give to, and soon I’ve got some exciting news to share about a new effort we’re starting.

I love my church. And if you’re anywhere near Katy, Texas, you should come check out this gathering of people. It’s a joy to share life with them.

And I love The Church. I’m thankful that it’s growing by God’s grace, teaching God’s truth, and doing God’s work. There are a lot of scandals and rumors and backlash that give the church a bad name, but there’s so much good going on in so many churches around our country. That stuff doesn’t get enough publicity. I love it.

What do you love about your church? The Church? Would love to hear your take.

5 comments

  1. I love my church (Current) because it makes anyone and everyone feel accepted. My church acknowledges that children are the key to the longevity of The Church and has gone so far as to prepare (in advance, have you) for the room it will take for a growing children’s ministry. I love my church because my pastors (yes, more than one) don’t take themselves seriously, but they DO take Jesus seriously.
    I love The Church because no matter what town I’m in, or country I’m in (almost), I can join a community of fellow believers and we all have something in common – I do this, when traveling for work, when I have a Wednesday night free – almost everywhere in the US has a Wed nite service SOMEWHERE! I love The Church because Jesus loves The Church and I want to be more like Him.

  2. Amen! In regard to the missions one can confidently support, allow me to seem, perhaps, a bit sectarian (or at least “Stone-Campbell loyal”) by suggesting a couple of Christian Church ministries that are similar to “Samaritan’s Purse” and “Compassion Int.” International Disaster Emergency Services – http://ides.org/ – does tremendous work, sharing benevolent funds with Christian Churches and Christian Church missionaries who are near victims of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. Rapha House – http://www.raphahouse.org/ – rescues girls — sometimes orphans — from the slave trade in a number of locations in SE Asia (and is looking at a work in Haiti). I could mention ARM, too, of course, but I’ll just wrap up this long comment and thank you for your great essay and your heart for ministry and generosity!

  3. I love your church too Titus as it is my church as well. Current has such a wonderful community that is eager to help others when they need it and stand on God’s word with such humilty and confidence. I am so inspired by the truth in God’s word that is preached every Sunday and taught to my son and the rest of the young folks and children. And yes, there are those moments when I might feel a little prick on my neck, feeling convicted, but I need that, we all do!! It is amazing to see His work in THE CHURCH, the bride of Jesus and to be involved in the pairing.

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