on church

this whole “church as a business entity” concept drives me a tad bonkers. the focus on the target audience. the snazzy social media plan. the marketing. i know some of it is necessary. things need to be structured. you need to communicate. you want to do things excellently. but is all that really necessary?

maybe i am being naive or simple but shouldn’t the focus be on building up the Christ followers? teaching and equipping them for service. after all, the church is people.

remember the account of the early church in the book of acts? the followers of Christ went city to city sharing Christ with people. the message of the gospel was compelling and edgy and it drew a crowd. and when folks believed, they began to more formally gather together to talk about it and learn more. to grow and encourage and pray and worship.

the fastest growing religions in the world do not explode because their services are top-notch with the latest and greatest. they aren’t the coolest. it isn’t because of the band or the tech or the branding. it isn’t because the setup is super hip and trendy. it is because of the followers. the people. grow the people, grow the church, grow the religion. not the other way around. the point is not to try to draw more attention to a religion or a building or a particular denomination…the point is to draw more attention to Christ. Christ is the only true and appropriate focus.

we have to get over this idea that if we just this or that, we will reach everyone. we will attract our target audience. we will draw them in and win them over. Christ draws. Christ wins. Christ changes hearts. and He works in people. these people go out and live in a way that is attractive. living in a manner that looks different than the norm of this world. sure, they might dress like hipsters or listen to vinyl or drink local brew with their buddies and that’s okay…but that cool stuff does not make the gospel cool. what we do or listen to or wear does not make Christ appealing. Christ in us makes us appealing. Christ in us is different and attractive. and that is what interests folks. that is what makes people say, “i want some of that”. that is what makes people want to walk through the doors of a church. they don’t want to see the church versions of wordily things. they aren’t looking for a show or a concert or a feel-good joint. they don’t want more of the world. if they wanted more of the world, they know where to find that. the world serves up plenty of that stuff on the regular, in varying forms. they want something else. they want Christ.

people will be reached by the Christ followers that we build up in our churches. churches are not to be focused on attracting potential Christ followers. churches don’t need to focus on marketing Jesus properly and advertising the gospel. we don’t need to point to features and benefits of a product. the church is a service-based entity. the church serves the needs of the people. the church serves the needs of the community. and the needs of the people and the community have nothing to do with worship style or the pastor’s apparel or the coolness of a website. people need Jesus. communities need Jesus. churches are to point people to Jesus. talk about Jesus. be about Jesus. it is a gathering of Christ followers looking for more of Christ. wanting to get closer and closer. wanting to look more and more like Christ. and the more we look like Christ, the more people are attracted to us, and thus, attracted to the church.

ekklesia is about Christ. it is the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”. (1 Peter 2:9) the called out ones are called to congregate. to pray and listen and encourage and worship. we then go out and share what Christ has done. we proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. we step into the dark and proclaim what Christ has done. we talk about the marvelous light. and when the Spirit draws and the scales fall from the eyes and the heart is softened toward the things of God…when the Heavenly and preordained work is accomplished, when salvation occurs, that person joins the ekklesia. they are nurtured and given an earthly place to call home as they sojourn to their ultimate home in Heaven. this is the church.

 

a joyride

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you know those days that are just a bit too wild? especially for a monday. darn you, monday. take it easy, would ya? well, we had a bit of a wild monday around here. i was busy with some work plates in the air and then elinor and i spent some quality time in the car with a bunch of driving crazies to-and-from a coffee meeting to discuss some baby shower plans for my sister – elinor felt very important being included on such a meeting. she kept the minutes quite nicely.

and then there was ben’s day. he is smack dab in the middle of a merger and had some very interesting meetings and opportunities pop up on top of it. the world of high finance, people. he came home pretty fried. and we had lots of things to discuss and pray about. you know, sometimes being an adult is just too much. decisions and career paths and five year year plans. sheesh. and when you are smack-dab in a middle of conversations about grown up things, you really don’t want to make dinner. well, maybe *you* do but i sure didn’t. i needed a little kitchen break. i wanted someone to bring me delicious things while i focused on conversation. and ben agreed. and so did elinor. i had her at “food”.

so, we hopped in the car and took off for gilbert. i was thinking about some bruschetta from postino all the way there until i remembered joyride and then…chips and salsa. tacos. burritos.

chips and salsa prevailed.

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we grabbed a table outside and ben and elinor got their serious faces on. oh, these two. they just don’t mess around when it comes to food. it is hilarious. the stern brow and pursed lips. laser focus.

and the server must have sensed the tone because he plopped down a basket of chips and salsa within seconds of our sitting down. major points, joyride. i like your style. 

we ate a million chips and talked a ton while we waited for our main food to arrive. we embarrassingly went through three baskets of chips. it is that salsa, i tell ya. lots of lime and smoky goodness. so fresh. and none of that nasty cilantro flavor that offends my tastebuds so.

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we ate our veggie burritos, enchilada style. i think that enchilada style is always a solid life choice. and man, those veggie burritos. they don’t mess around. and they weren’t like an afterthought menu item (which veggie dishes so often are) they were so flavorful and yummy. big fans, over here. and then! to top off the evening, free churros. this is one of the perks of having a darling little girl – free goodies. that is the only explanation. it must have been elinor’s delicious dimples. one little smirk and…”i put in an order of complimentary churros for you guys”. needless to say, joyride really came through for us last night. i am glad that we went on an impromptu family date. i can guarantee you that free churros were not in my meal plan.

the she to his nanigans

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so saturday was a wild one. but pretty darn good, if you ask me. we kicked off the day of activities by opening the windows and rolling out our mats for a little exercise with the breeze blowing through the house. have i mentioned that this time of year is simply dreamy? and then, it was time to wake the little miss and get ready to head out. first stop, the gilbert farmers market. the new season of CSA is *finally* upon us! the place was buzzing. people everywhere. strolling and sipping coffee and buying goodies and enjoying breakfast foods. you know, it is this time of year, and all.

after filling the cooler, it was off to the annual founders day function for ben’s work. every year, they get these really snazzy t-shirts and tickets for the whole family to some kind of gathering. last year, it was a trip to the pumpkin patch and this year it was all about cosmic bowling and arcade games and bumper cars and laser tag. crazy stuff. we met up with friends and grabbed a lane for some bowling. elinor even got to play. she kept squealing “ball! ball! ball!” and thought that every turn was her turn. she is quite the sportsman. and she loves to cheer on her papa. clapping and yay-ing like it was her job.

after we got in a couple hours of that scene, we hopped in the car again to head to crêpe bar to meet up with some tucson friends. they were returning from a trip and flew into phoenix so naturally, they wanted to do two things before driving home: 1) take a trip to ikea for some essentials and 2) grab lunch at a yummy spot. we were happy to take part in number two. and so, we got our little families together for some fabulous food and i encouraged kate to head next door and grab some croissants for the road. after a lovely little lunch and some great conversation and some laughing at our silly babies, they were off. and we went back home.

well, i dropped off ben and elinor and immediately turned the car around for an afternoon coffee date with a dear friend. elinor napped and ben got a few hours to himself and i got caught up on life with my gal pal.

after all the hustle and bustle of the day, we were ready for a quiet evening at home. ben made dinner for us and we relaxed and spent some time together, just our little family. elinor made us laugh and we talked and shared stories. there was even some coloring and a family dance party. so, not as rowdy as a comic bowling alley but still not exactly quiet and tame. it was just right. i sure do love this family of mine.

and hey hubby…thanks for doing fun stuff with me. and thanks for being silly and playing with elinor. and thanks for your thoughtful preparation of weekend meals. i like doing this life with you.

elinor lately

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current eccentricities

she likes to use “eight” for all the numbers

she likes to use “boo” (blue) for all the colors

she likes to use “a” or “e”  for all the letters

she likes to use “sooos” (shoes) for all the articles of clothing

current favorites phrases 

uuuuum – dramatic pause – sure!

rea-ey, night-night (ready for night-night)

shange cothes (after ben comes home, he gets elinor from her nap and then he changes from his work attire. when he goes in to get her, she now says, “hi papa! change clothes?”)

sit-sers (stickers)

cah-or (color)

foodst (she uses this one to request that i make her food)

pay ball, papa. (play ball, papa)

sih-eeee mama (silly mama)

aaaa-em (a dramatic amen after prayers are said)

i doooo, i doooo (when we ask if she would like to do something, her reply is an extended, double “i do”)