Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Take My Advice and Do Better....

I often like to joke about how I would be a great coach for just about any sports team. For example, if I were a batting coach on a baseball team, I would patiently instruct the hitter not to swing at balls, only at strikes. And while we're on the subject, if you do swing, be sure to actually hit the ball (what's the point of swinging and missing?). Oh, and another thing: if you do hit it, be sure to hit it somewhere where there's not a fielder standing there (he might throw you out). Aim better, is what I'm saying.

As amusing as I think I am when I bark such instructions at the TV screen while a bunch of people are gathered to watch a game, the fact is that many church leaders do the same thing when instructing their congregations, or the church at large.

Apparently, the church is supposed to "have an impact." Plus, it should definitely "bring in the kingdom," all the while not forgetting to "redeem the culture."

Is it me, or is this instruction about as helpful as "hit better," "throw harder," and "run faster"?

Thankfully, the Reformed confessions make the church's marching orders much more clear: the job of the local church is to make disciples by preaching the Word, administering the sacraments, and exercising discipline in the lives of its members.

Whatever impact or success that the church may hope for (things that are in God's hands), it will only come as the result of doing the things we are actually responsible for. Moreover, if the church refuses to give due attention to the preaching of the apostles' doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers, she has no business expecting God's blessing on her extra-curricular activities.

When properly understood, then, the advice the church needs to heed is both simple and specific:

Be the Church.