I imagine I've riled some folks this week with my stubborn insistence that there is more than one "right" way to "do church."
I've left my electronic autograph attached to many comments on many blogs to that effect where I encountered folks who are just convinced that - for instance - because church buildings are not the most cost-effective means of drawing people closer to Christ that they can think of, it must be wrong to do so.
And while I agree that we Christians could do better at being open to innovation; to new ways of lifting up Christ so that He may draw all men to Himself ... I must continue to insist that while some people are drawn to Him by one kind of outreach, others are drawn to Him by completely different kinds of outreach. What works for me, or for my church, or for my neighborhood, city or culture, may only work for attracting a handful of others who are outside of the body of Christ - but He still loves them dearly and holds them precious.
Will I finally be judged by adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles when He returns?
Or will He remember that it cost Him everything to win the ones who would follow Him?
So forgive me if I continue to work with a clear conscience at a large metro church with a Family Life Center and gym and cafe ... one which is open to the community and hosts all kinds of non-profit and community organizations ... one which supports thirteen missionary families/teams ... one which hosts the campus of a Christian elementary school and baby/toddler Day School ... one which supports a thriving inner-city ministry downtown and an inner-city church across the river ... one which employs three youth ministers and one children's minister ... one which has outgrown its teen room on Sunday and Wednesday nights because of so many visitors ... one which has run out of Sunday School classroom space for adults and children even after expanding the building four times over the past twenty years ... one in which elective offerings on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights have included "Eschatology (Second Coming)," "Revelation," and "The Holy Spirit" ... one whose preaching minister hosts an "ask-the-minister-anything" Seekers Class on Sunday mornings ... one which has three ladies' classes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and a Seniors class on Wednesday mornings ... one which operates a Substance Abuse Recovery program on Monday nights ... one which is tracking with its elders' prayed-for goal ten years ago of 10 percent growth per annum.
I know numbers and statistics are not the measure of a church.
But I am a stubborn old cuss, and I believe there is more than one way to lead people closer to Christ - and that where I am at this point in time, there's nothing wrong with the way we're trying to do so at my home congregation in good ol' Little Rock, Arkansas because He's at the center of everything that happens there.
And if I am wrong, I beg Your forgiveness.