Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Externally Focused Church

Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson

Many Christians feel empty and frustrated and go from Bible study to seminar to the latest Christian book, hoping to fill the ‘purpose void’ with more personal development or insight. It is more likely that until we discover our place of ministry, we will not feel the satisfaction of Ephesians 2: 10 – doing the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do. In a recent Bible study, after carefully studying the Ephesians 2:8-10 passage, one man blurted out, ‘If I’m his workmanship, and he’s prepared good works for me, well, that means that my good works don’t have to look like your good works!’

The church also is strengthened as its people engage in good works. The way to inwardly build a church is through outward service. God gives gifted leaders to the church ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.’ There can be no ‘building up’ until people are engaged in works of service. God saved us to do good works; church leadership is there to prepare people for good works; the Word of God equips us ‘for every good work,’ and we are to ‘spur one another on towards love and good deeds.’ Now the question is: Will we follow through by actually engaging in good works?

There is a vast difference between bodybuilding and weight training. If you’ve ever been channel-surfing and caught a bodybuilding contest on ESPN, you’ll know that the purpose of bodybuilding is to maximally develop every muscle in the human body and then, with the help of a good tan, a small bathing suit, shiny skin and striking poses, to show it off. But to what end? For what purpose? There is no end; there is no purpose beyond building up the body! That’s it. Weight training is different. Athletic records are continually being shattered largely because the strength and capacity of athletes are increasing through weight training. For athletes, weight training is a means to a greater end. Strength, flexibility, and speed are their goal – not the size of their muscles. These athletes train for their event. Their training is not the event.

The purpose of the church should be more than ‘body’ building. The church should be more like a training facility designed to equip the saints for works of service.

From chapter 4 of The Externally Focused Church published by Group 2004
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