June 24, 2007

Takin’ it to the Streets.

Posted in Christian Life, Friends, Mission, My Personal Walk, Personal, Religion, The Church, Thoughts at 4:54 pm by Dan Barnett

brassmonk.jpgI had a good conversation with an old friend today.  On the way to the Dick Tracy Days parade, in Woodstock, IL, we were talking about church and mission.  He posed the question to me, “Which is more important: perfecting your doctrine or being involved in the lives of those around us?”  I quickly answered that they go hand in hand.  I said that in order to fully have either to be effective you have to have both.  He agreed somewhat and said, “I will never darken the door of another church, as long as I live, that won’t hit the streets.”  As we talked I explained myself and finished my answer.  I think aside from having a correct understanding of my own salvation, my biggest calling is to do works.  The greatest commandment is to love God with every part of your being.  The second greatest is to love others as yourself.  To be frank, if you come to me and try to tell me everything I’m doing is wrong and that I need to repent, I’m going to filter these words through my perspective of the person that you are.  On the flip side, if I see you serving me for no reason but to serve and love, I will start to wonder what it is that drives you to do such. 

The danger is my first answer to the question.  I can have all the correct theology I want and not serve.  I can know my Bible in and out(which is what I’m striving to learn) and never set foot in culture.  How does a monk fulfill his calling to tell others about Christ?  If he is locked up in a compound 95% of his life, who is he reaching? 

Now look at the other side of it.  If I am devoting everything I am to being in the culture and serving all I see, I’m doing what Christ has commanded me to do.  However, what am I leading them to?  We have a church in our town that has every religion I can think of each practicing its own beliefs and ceremonies under their roof.  So where a monk is not doing an effective job of reaching out with his beliefs, the other danger is reaching out and sharing false beliefs. 

So, I’m curious.  How would you answer the question?  What is the biggest part of our mission as the church: our doctrine or being in the culture serving others?

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5 Comments »

  1. red05 said,

    Good questions, I like your thoughts.
    No church, no one person has a perfect doctrine. No one has it all figured out. You can study scriptures for years, and come to a place where you feel confident in all of your beliefs, yet on some things you will still be wrong. I think this is important to realize.
    In my experience most churches have the basics correct. Of course their are huge disagreements about issues among churches, but for the most part on the main issues they seem to agree.
    So, for example let’s say one church does a great job serving and loving their community. They love people unconditionally, and serve their communities needs in a thoughtful and compassionate way. Because of this people are drawn into their church who otherwise would never seek a church. However in your opinion their doctrine is off a bit.
    There’s another church whose doctrine you feel is as best as it could be. But they only serve themselves, they are comfortable with the church they have now and comfortable looking out for their own. But they sure do know those scriptures!
    Which church is better advancing God’s kingdom? Which church is best emulating Christ’s example?
    As long as the foundation is there, the doctrinal details are less important than serving others. You’re right though, we need to lead them somewhere. Our service should be driven by a genuine love for God and desire to fulfill his commands in the scriptures.
    Wow, I’ve gone on way to long. Good post though, I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  2. Dan Barnett said,

    Thanks for the response, Red. I totally agree with you. I think it is healthy to have a sound doctrine guiding you. We need to live intentional lives. Matthew 5 says to let our light shine before men so that they may see our good works and glorify God. We need to always have a motive higher than the situation.

  3. John Kieffer said,

    I came here quite by accident. It’s been a
    long time since I’ve written anything on the web at all.
    I’m not sure I really want to get into this,
    but I think your question is important.

    It would help if I knew more specifically
    what you mean by ‘doctrine’.
    If you mean systematic theology,
    like the type of thing that is taught in a seminary
    or bible school over the course of months
    and years, then I would say this is dramatically
    less important than being involved in the lives
    of others.

    If you mean by doctrine, the basics of the life
    of Jesus in the world, then I would say as you
    did that they (‘doctrine’ and ministry to mankind)
    go hand in hand. But still, this is an incomplete
    and misleading statement.

    This is because knowing the doctrine of Jesus and
    knowing Him personally can be and often are
    two very different things. I don’t really believe the question
    to ask should be ‘doctrine’ vs. ‘ministry’.

    To me, the important question should be something more like
    how do we balance ministry to God and ministry to man?

    I’ve spent lots of time over the years taking it to the ‘streets’
    in the inner city, the suburbs, and lots of other settings.
    I’ve also spent lots of time alone with the Lord.
    Both have been rewarding and wonderful.
    And both have been agonizingly difficult.

    I have failed miserably at both and I have
    succeeded surprisingly at both.
    Maybe the best answer is something like the marketing guys at NIKE
    put it: just do it. Theres no teacher like Holy Spirit experience.

    So as Forest would put it,
    That’s all I have to say about that!

  4. Dan Barnett said,

    Thanks so much for you honest response, John. I’m actually on my way to bed right now, and I may be throwing up all night. So, I’ll have to get back to you tomorrow. Accidental or not, you’re comments are always welcome.

  5. Dan Barnett said,

    I think in terms of doctrine, my concern for someone being off on their doctrine, would be at root the Gospel. Am I serving you and investing in your life and leading you to a false hope? Examples would be thr Prosperity Gospel: come to Christ and you’ll have everything I have and maybe more. As if, God’s blessings for his followers are always monitary: or the inclusive Gospel: in the end all will be in Heaven, because God does not will that any should perish. I think this is my concern of haing sound doctrine. Yeah, the other deeper thing come into play too, but this is the root of it to me.


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