February 11, 2008

What You Are For Not Against

In his book Story, Robert McKee says, "Difference for the sake of difference is as empty an achievement as slavishly following the commercial imperative." He goes on to say that many write a certain way not because they are passionate about that particular style, but because of what that style is not. "The young are taught that Hollywood and art are antithetical. The novice, therefore, wanting to be recognized as an artist, falls into the trap of writing a screenplay not for what it is, but for what it's not. He avoids closure, active characters, chronology, and causality to avoid the taint of commercialism. As a result, pretentiousness poisons his work."

This is a very tempting way not only to write, but also to live life; pursuing a path simply because it is not the other path.

When I planted my first church, I reacted against all that I had seen before. I didn't like traditional worship; so we did contemporary worship. I didn't like strict standards; so we took coffee into the sanctuary. I didn't think churches cared enough for the poor; so we did ministry to the poor. There was nothing wrong with doing those things. There was, however, something wrong with my pursuit of them simply because I didn't want to be something else.

Authentic ministry develops when you discover what you are passionate about, what God has called you to accomplish, and pursuing what you are for not what you are against. It means knowing who you are, and what you were created to do. Difference for difference sake is an empty path, and a cheap substitution for authenticity.

I learned that ministry to the poor had to come from a desire to serve and love the poor; not just because the "other" churches weren't doing it. I had to actually love those who were far from God. I had to want to present the Gospel in relevant ways and remove barriers to people coming to the church because it was my desire, and not because I wanted to "do church differently." My ministry style would probably be very similar to what it was before, but I have had to wrestle with doing it because I believe it is right and the direction God has called me to go, and not out of a reaction against another way of doing church.

"Doing church differently" implies a comparison mentality that is unpleasing to God. If I am following God and His path, then I don't need to compare what my church does to what "other" churches are doing. I am content and confident in the direction God is leading.

"Doing church differently" also implies a competition mentality. Why compare ourselves to other churches anyway? We need to be who God has called us to be regardless of how "other" churches are doing things.

Take a moment and think about what you are for...is this really what you are for or is it simply a reaction against something else.

What are you for? What is it that you are passionate about accomplishing for God's Kingdom?

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