I have been at FBC Monahans for 10 months on Friday. In someways it seem like I got here yesterday and in someways it feels like I’ve been here forever. As always, the first year has a steep learning curve, but I’ve started to get settled in. In addition to marking 10 months at FBC, this month makes 44 months in a full-stime staff position and 60 months of staff ministry experience. I have officially been on staff at a church for a total of 5 years. I’ve come a long way in 5 years. I’ve learned a lot and changed a lot. Many of my opinions have gotten much weaker as I’ve learned that there is more than one way to do things. A few of my opinions have gotten stronger as I’ve learned God’s purpose for His church.
Since the fall, I’ve been taking the students through the major characters of the Bible, highlighting the stories associated with these characters. So far we’ve spent 1 week on Adam & Eve, 1 week on Noah, 4 weeks on Abraham, 1 week on Isaac, 1 week on Jacob, and this will be our 3rd week on Joseph. This is the second time I’ve done this type of study with students. Both times I’ve observed that very few of the students really know these stories. While this lack of knowledge most certainly concerns me, what really concerns me, is that even those students who grew up in church and who know the stories do not understand the stories. To them, these are stories, much like what you would find in Grimm’s Fairy Tails or a book of short stories.
There are cool stories, boring stories, fun stories, and sad stories, but that’s all they are, stories. We have missed the point of the stories. I started teaching my students the “metanarrative” or the big picture story of the Bible. As we have walked through the Old Testament characters our focus is two fold, learn the stories and then show how these stories point us towards Christ. The last few months, we’ve obviously been dealing a lot with covenants. I love to show students how God chose to bless Abraham so that he could be a blessing to others. I love it when they begin to understand that what Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God intended to use to bless not only Joseph, but through Joseph much of the world. We have missed how these stories point to Christ and how these stories and the life and death of Christ teach us that there is a greater purpose to life than enjoyment or being happy.
The challenge for me, for my students, and for every believer is to stop seeing the church as something that is meant to bless their lives. I hear all the time, “I am so blessed to have such a great church!” The purpose of that blessing is not so that you can be blessed and enjoy going to church, but so that you may pass that blessing on. It is our responsibility as believers not to be blessed by our great churches, but to make sure that our churches are great and blessing others. “Take up your cross,” “go and sell all that you have,” these are the words Christ uses as he talks to people about following God. How is God calling you to use the blessing you have? What comfort might he be calling you to give up to “take up your cross” so that others might be bless? We cannot allow ourselves to get complacent. We cannot allow ourselves to get so comfortable, to be so blessed, that we cannot make the sacrifices we need to reach the world around us.