This past Sunday I spoke at three services at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Ruckersville, VA (outside of Charlottesville). This church has a pretty good pulse on the community around it. Their pastor has a vision to reach out beyond the walls of the church. He asked me to speak on my experience moving from the pew into the passion.
Here are my notes...
ANCHORED IN THE HARBOR
SPRING HILL BAPTIST – 6 FEB 2005
STORY: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Henri the painter and boat builder.
“The boat was sculptured rather than built. It was thirty-five feet long and its lines were in a constant state of flux. For a while it had a clipper bow and a fantail like a destroyer. Another time it had looked vaguely like a caravel. Since Henri had no money, it sometimes took months to find a plank or a piece of iron or a dozen brass screws. That was the way he wanted it, for Henri never wanted to finish his boat”
The reason is given elsewhere in the book: A man named Hazel says to the main character Doc: “(Henri’s) been building that boat for seven years that I know of… Every time he gets it nearly finished he changes it and starts over again. I think he’s nuts. Seven years on a boat.”
And Doc gently replies: “You don’t understand. Henri loves boats but he’s afraid of the ocean.”
THAT IS THE SUMMARY OF MY CHRISTIAN JOURNEY UP TO ABOUT A YEAR AGO.
Kent loves the Church, but he’s afraid of the world!
BAD CASE OF THE GIMME-THEN’S:
GIMME one more discipleship class, THEN I’ll live my faith out in the world…
GIMME one more book of the NT, THEN I’ll go visit with my unsaved friend…
GIMME one more sermon… THEN I’ll…
GIMME one more worship experience… THEN I’ll…
GIMME one more act of service toward the church… THEN I’ll…
ALL OF THESE WERE GOOD THINGS! BUT I GAVE UP WHAT WAS “BEST” AND SETTLED FOR WHAT WAS MERELY “GOOD”
The BEST things God has for us come from obeying the two greatest commandments…
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.
And love your neighbor as yourself.”
If they only would have been written:
“Love your church with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.
And love yourself more than others.”
But I realized I WAS FAILING at the two greatest commandments
There are 2 kinds of ministry:
1. Ministry to the Body… worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, child care workers, etc. – This is what I was really good at!
2. Ministry to the World… that’s what I failed at doing (and what I believe the Church as a whole is rather weak at doing)
I had anchored myself in the Harbor… I had anchored myself in the Church (Deacon, Adult SS Teacher, Committee Member, Child-Care Worker, Kitchen Clean-Up Crew, etc. etc.). I had anchored myself in the Church and by doing so I didn’t have time for the second greatest commandment… to love my neighbor as myself.
CHINA – The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my own problem of being anchored in the Harbor.
The Church in China:
Handful I saw are baptizing new believers every 36 hours…
one of the differences I saw… NO HARBOR
From my China experience the Spirit told me give it all up… .(Deacon, Adult SS Teacher, Committee Member, Child-Care Worker, Kitchen Clean-Up Crew, etc. etc.). And He revealed to me that the door to ministering to world is the exit door of the church.
So where do I find myself now…
7 months to resign my duties
SMOKE FILLED ROOM
Getting our bearing
Learning what it means to live as missionaries to our own culture
Learning the language of our post-modern culture
NOT A JOURNEY FOR THE WEAK BELIEVER
Look around you… this is your Harbor.
The seas of the world are rough, and Christ (as he’s been described time and again) is the Lighthouse… his light guided us safely into the harbor. But it wasn’t for the purpose of us dropping our anchors.
Harbors do have a purpose…
to restock supplies
to get a new coat of paint
to get repairs.
Harbors are safe places for boats, but boats are made to sail… If we anchor ourselves in the Harbor we do the Boatmaker a disservice.
God is not like Henri in Cannery Row… He doesn’t build boats to never have them sail.
It’s the same Lighthouse that drew us here that now shows us the way back into the stormy seas of the world around us.
Last night I watched the footage from my Spring Hill speaking engagement with my parents. They were both impressed, but who's parents wouldn't be of their son in that role.
My mother thought it was a little too much like a performance... a little too dramatic, but at the same time she felt the content was dead on.
After we filmed the three "performances" last week my shooter, Matt Uncapher, and I went to lunch at the local Mexi joint. As we devoured the chips and salsa we discussed the events of the morning. His viewpoints are distorted by the viewfinder (as most camerament will attest) and my viewpoints are more grossly distorted by simply being too close to the topic, so the jury is still out in regards to how the message was delivered and taken.
The pastor of the church emailed me two days ago and said it "went VERY WELL." Hopefully it won't end there, but this will just be the beginning for a few select folks to start living their faith outside the was of the traditional institutional church.
Back to the chips and salsa... I told Matt that I don't know how a pastor can give three audiences the same sermon without it becoming a "performance." With my presentation I would polish it between services and try to improve upon it each time. I would imagine that pastors would do the exact same thing.
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