My friend, author Don Piper (90 Minutes in Heaven), met David and me last week at Starbucks as he was passing through town. It was a real thrill to get to visit with him again. Don is a New York Times Bestselling Author, and his true story of death and life has captivated millions. (If that sounds like a spiel, it's because I marketed his book for three years while working at Baker Publishing Group. I thought the book sounded crazy myself until I actually read it.)
For the past several years, this former Southern Baptist pastor has been traveling around the country (and the world) talking about heaven and about what it takes to be right with God. He's spoken in megachurches and tiny churches--Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian, Lutheran, the list goes on. You name it--he's preached there. He's got a way of fitting in wherever he goes, and I truly believe God's gifted him in this way.
So our questions to him were: What about the Big-C Church encourages you the most? What most needs to be improved?
Don was excited as he shared that people of all denominations are becoming more accepting of each other and their differences. For instance, he can tell a Baptist that he was at a charismatic church, and they will be excited for him, in many cases, and ask about his ministry there. Don speaks 200-300 x per year, so his observations are based on thousands of encounters. The church, he feels, is becoming more accepting of believers from all denominations.
But what needs to be improved? Don has noticed we are missing a "clarion call." We're missing a clear message to the world of what it means to be a Christ-follower and to join God's Kingdom. As my husband likes to say, the church should be "majoring on the majors, and minoring on the minors." And that is the problem, according to Don's observations. We're not doing that. We're muddying the waters, throwing in this and that, instead of clarifying the gospel for a world who desperately needs it.
So that's the bad news. The good news is that God has a plan to fix that. It involves you and me and everyone who has received Christ's love. We are to clarify the gospel, to be Jesus with skin on. We are the change.
In my humble opinion (and I believe I have Scripture on my side), we won't do that through politics. We won't do it through alienating people we don't agree with by legislating morality. We can only do it through loving. We can only do it through sacrifice and the modeling and teaching of repentance and restoration. We can only do it through loving the broken, as Jesus has called us to do. This is our clarion call. This is our Kingdom business. For better or worse, we are the workers God has chosen to get the job done. I pray we get it right.
Your turn. What do you think the Church is doing right? What do we need to improve on?