Our next post in the "My Dream for the Church" comes from Caleb Cochran of the Rockville congregation in Maryland.
~ Ω ~
I dream of a church that engages my heart, soul, mind, and strength in a greater love of God each time we meet. When I walk away from a worship assembly, I want to know that my heart has been encouraged by the fellowship of my family, my soul has been engaged in spiritual and truthful worship, my mind has been challenged by the Word, and to expect my body now to be motivated for impact on the world over the next 6 days.
I dream of a church like Thessalonica with a community reputation for works of faith, labors of love, and becoming a megaphone through which the Word of the Lord will echo.
I dream of a church who prioritizes both out-reach and in-reach. I need to belong to a missional church that is focused on the increase of Kingdom territory. But as a new citizen of that Kingdom, if I am not discipled and plugged into Kingdom Work, then I may take my allegiance elsewhere.
I dream of a church that respects the needs and values the contributions of each age, gender, and racial demographic. This body of believers does not isolate an ear from an eye but, as Titus was instructed, highlights the vital neural pathways between the older and younger and all our members from their variety of backgrounds.
I dream of a church that stays rooted in sound doctrine, knowing that the roots supply what’s needed for fruit production. But if you find nothing but leaves on your fig tree, you might want to make sure you hit all the roots by spreading your watering and fertilizer all the way around the tree. Healthy teaching involves balance, and balance goes beyond the same handful of standard 5-point-cookie-cutter sermons on worship and salvation.
I dream of a church that challenges - consistently and positively challenges its sheep to know and follow their Good Shepherd. I need to know my own sheepish tendencies. And while I realize my dependency on the Shepherd’s lordship, I also need to be challenged to develop both my dove-like innocence and my serpent-like shrewdness. Scold me too much, and you might construct a false fence between me and the grace of the Shepherd. Baby me too much, and I will fail to reach adulthood as a sheep, dove, or serpent. Positively challenge me, and over time you will see me grow into the sheep that knows the Shepherd’s voice…the dove whose flight is marked by grace and purity…the serpent who applies its maker’s wisdom to all its interactions.
I dream of a church that employs a defense plan for the faith of each member – shepherds overseeing their souls, teachers diving with them into the depths of the Scriptures, brothers and sisters bearing their burdens. Especially as a young person or a young Christian, I need to know the enemy’s moral and intellectual tactics. So I need to develop a 1 Peter 3:15 plan.
I dream of a church that imitates her Lord in every aspect – its mission mindset, its compassion, its devotion to prayer, its welcoming atmosphere to outsiders, its challenging but encouraging teachings, its stance for truth, its unity.
I guess what I’m dreaming of is a church that would not be ashamed to humbly and truthfully call itself “the church of Christ.”