And so the saints march on! More of your questions with the best answer I can muster up! Here we go…
What is the most important ministry of North Star?
You can ask 200 people this question and you would end up with a big list of what people think the most important ministry of the church is. I am going to offer to you a summation of what I believe it is. I think that the most important ministry in any community of faith is the ministry of connection. The church exists to facilitate connection:
1) With God – through worship and faith formation
2) With each other – in small group and through fellowship opportunities
3) With the world – through generosity of resources, time, service and witness
When we excel at connection then lives are constantly and consistently being transformed through Jesus Christ.
Why has God brought us all together? Why do we have church?
The mission statement of the United Methodist Church says that the we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs. (para. 120) That is one reason why God has brought us together. The other is more detailed.
It is human nature to worship. Across the span of human existence and in every culture, worship has been a central part of the community ethos. We have worshipped nature, the heavens, spirits, statues, and named and unnamed gods. And the majority of the time worship has been tribal, community, or civilization oriented – not individualized like it is today.
We have church for the primary reason of gathering together to worship the Lord God of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Our main task is to give thanks and praise to God for creating us, redeeming us, and sustaining us. Worship reminds us of our dependence on God for everything and that God does not depend on us for anything. Without worship humanity would be uninhibited and unrestrained and I hate to think of what the consequences would be if that were the case.
Does God pull you to go to church or does it just happen by fate?
I believe that God places the desire in you to attend church – it is part of the work of the Holy Spirit. But it isn’t just so you can hear my stellar preaching or sing with our awesome praise band or that you get your weekly spiritual feeding. God pulls us together to remind us that we are connected with each other through Him. Too many people go through life unattached, lonely, and with little joy or hope. I believe in the transforming presence of God vibrantly alive when we are gathered together and that through God’s presence we can see lives transformed into His glorious image!
What is the thing that happens that gives someone the desire to know Jesus Christ? What can I do to get God back in my life?
The church affirms the testimony of scripture and tradition that speaks of the power and presence of God through the Holy Spirit. Through my years of study I have come to understand God as one who through love is doing everything to draw us into a restored relationship. The prevenient grace of God is active in all of our lives nudging us into God’s love and forgiveness. The faithful witness of followers of Jesus Christ should be the living and breathing example of what God offers – salvation now and for eternity.
Regarding the second question – if you have this question I would love to talk with you one-on-one because this question deserves a more personal touch than a blog entry. And for the purposes of the blog – this is going to be a simplistic answer – God has never left you! Jesus told his followers “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” The constant presence in this universe is God’s presence – what we have a tendency to do is turn away from God’s presence and seek other things. If you truly desire to have God back in your life then I recommend a couple of things:
1) Repentance for ignoring or rejecting God’s presence
2) Scripture reading – start with The Story by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee – then move to a standard Bible
3) The discipline of daily prayer and meditation – take time to share with God what you are feeling and take time to simply listen
4) Fellowship with other believers – spend time with folks from your community of faith
Why can everyone in our society seem to make time for “extra-curricular” activities, but not for church?
Honestly – this question permeates the minds and hearts of every church leader, staff member, committed volunteer, and committed member. I will suggest just a couple of things that are major distractions for post-modern and post-Christian folks:
1) Sunday morning is no longer sacred – repeal of the Blue Law and the increasing number of youth activities now infringes upon what used to be a morning that solely belonged to God.
2) Affluence – most of us earn more per year than our parents did and we have the ability to put our kids in multiple extra-curricular activities, we have the ability to travel more, and we have simply made other things a priority over God.
3) Church isn’t entertaining – yep I said it! It is not as entertaining as college or pro athletics, or Desperate Housewives, or the Amazing Race, or American Idol, or…it isn’t entertaining. Friends – the dirty little secret is this – worship is not supposed to be entertaining. Now it isn’t supposed to be dull and lifeless either BUT worship is about God and God alone! We are commanded to gather together in the power and presence of God to give Him honor and praise. God is our Lord and Savior and corporate worship and praise centered on Him alone should be our first priority on Sunday morning. Everything else should be secondary. (Certainly don’t expect this to be the popular answer but it is the only one I can give.)
Reaching those in jail, home bound and in nursing homes that are still a part of our church. What is being done to still make them feel a part of our church?
We have several folks who attend to the needs of members who cannot worship with us. Matt and I along with member of our prayer team and church members regularly visit our folks who are home bound or in residential care. Others keep in regular contact with those who are incarcerated. We take special care to bring them communion the first of each month. It is important that we stay connected with our members who cannot worship with us.
Let me finish with this. A blog is the starting point for conversation. My answers are by no means comprehensive – they give a quick reply to your questions. If my response sparks more questions then by all means ask them. If you want to sit down and talk about one of these or other questions, my time is your time. Call me or email and I will make time to get together.
Thanks for taking time to read through part 4 – I am guessing there will be about 3 more editions to get through the remaining questions.
Blessings for the journey.