Maybe you know that awkward moment? It sneaks up on you when, in casual conversation, a friend or family member makes a comment or asks a question about something or somebody and you realize you really don’t have a clear comment than you can muster on the spot? It’s one of those weird things, assuming that the person, thing, or organization they mentioned is important to you, but you find yourself fumbling for words or some kind of explanation of why it’s significant in your life. Whether it’s the great aunt who hardly remembers you or maybe an old club you’ve been a member of for decades. They are a crucial part of your life but you sometimes have a hard time expressing exactly ‘why’.
This happened to me last year, and it was a little embarrassing, considering what I do. Somebody asked me about the distinguishing characteristics of FCC and what made it important to those who were a part of it. Simple enough... right? I immediately started talking (quite natural, as you know!), but realized after a few sentences that I didn’t really have an succinct answer to the question. Feeling very inarticulate, I fumbled through ideas like good friendships, the sense of family, our efforts in reaching families, and our commitment to solid bible teaching, all the while very aware that I was just rambling.
The conversation went on to other things, but it left me pondering several questions. Was our purpose really that fuzzy? What would other members of the congregation say? Was my answer even to the point... or really more of an loose assemblage of ideas mashed together simply because...?
As I mulled all of this around, I was struck by the possibility that, if we asked the same question of other FCC folks, we might find as many answers as members. It even seemed likely, since I would typically assume the leaders should have a fairly clear sense of our purpose... don’t ya think!? Adding to the puzzle was the reality that, if this was really Jesus’ Church -- and not just some religious ‘family’ or club we could shape to our liking and our tastes -- then our purpose and goals should be a direct reflection of whatever He had set out for us and thus pretty simple to define. Then why the fuzzy? And why so many different answers, some which might even be opposed to one another!?
Thus the roots of our current journey. We decided to start with what Jesus said! Novel idea, this. While allowing for creative variation in how each of us might approach it -- depending on our diverse gifts, skills, and maturity levels -- Jesus laid down a rather straightforward and doable strategy. Recorded in Matthew 28, as He completed His ministry here on earth, He told those who he had raised up as disciples -- followers -- to replicate the process He had taken them through in others, teaching them to replicate themselves, and so on. To their credit, they took Him at His word, each leading individuals and small groups to become obedient, replicating followers. The result was they turned the world upside down in less than a generation. And the ripple effects are still in play today in any society or church who will do the same: Make followers who make followers who are equipped to make followers who are also equipped and so on.
Back to the conversation last year. Even though I did manage to muddle through, I keep thinking about how different it would have been if I had been taking Jesus seriously, not only in strategy but in practice. Not only would the strategy have been on the tip of my tongue, the stories of changed lives and families that resulted would naturally follow. Strategy, purpose and outcome all in one package. From embarrassed fumbling to enthusiastic reporting. On point instead of grasping for ideas. Clear purpose rather than a compilation of actions. That’s quite a change! And it represents exactly the mission that Jesus left for us in a much more authentic and appealing way. Stay tuned!