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JESUS SAYS, "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!"

July 27, 2009

Think of all of the words used in book titles used to describe congregational ministry today: Transformational Church, Missional Church, Healthy Church, Organic Church, Simple Church, Connectional Church, Purpose-Driven Church, Blessed Church and the list goes on!

Think of all of the words used in book titles used to describe congregational ministry today: Transformational Church, Missional Church, Healthy Church, Organic Church, Simple Church, Connectional Church, Purpose-Driven Church, Blessed Church and the list goes on! There is much in these kinds of books that is of immense help to us in working for the vitality of congregational life and the impact and influence of the church in the world.

It is easy to be consumed by a how-to approach to church life or by the strengths and weakness of the well-known personalities that lead the church of today. That's why it is also easy for us to lose sight of the most basic fact of church vitality expressed by Jesus: “I will build my church.” Jesus literally is the church’s one foundation and our utter dependence on his work is far more significant than all of the "how-to" books and leading personalities put together.

I have been enjoying the wonderful devotional book by Carlo Carretto, I, Francis, in which Carretto expresses the story of the call and passion of Francis of Assisi through the words of Francis himself. In speaking of the fallibility of church leaders and the work of Christ in the church, Carretto has Assisi say:

"It was not the result of human virtue, but of the love of God, which, in spite of human beings’ little virtue and their infantile mistakes, will succeed, with his invincible will, in leading his people to their goal."

In establishing Moses, Saint Peter, and Innocent III (the Pope of Francis’ day) as heads of his people, God did not remove from them their hardness of mind or the dross of their heart—but in spite of the hardness and dross he guaranteed his people that they would reach the Kingdom.

It was not a matter of switching leaders, then, and founding another Church. It was a matter of believing that the Church had already been founded, and that we should trust in the Spirit that guided Peter...

While we use the "how-to" resources available to us and as fallible leaders who do their humble best we are well-reminded that the church is not about us but about the Lord of life.

So ask yourself, “For what have I prayed for the congregation I serve in the last seven days?” Did you even pray for it? And if you did pray for the congregation, were your prayers focused only on the well-being of people with various needs and or did you also pray specifically for the vitality of the congregation you are a part of and its ministry to your community and world? Since the ultimate vitality of the church is the work of Christ among us, an excellent way for us to participate in the building of Christ’s church is to make a serious prayer life on behalf of the church and community we serve.

With joy – E. Stanley Ott
© 2009 E. Stanley Ott www.VitalChurchesInstitute.com