The gospel is about church formation before it is about personal formation.
—Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed
Our annual church leadership offsite meeting seemed to go well yesterday. Always encouraging and exciting to hear how God is on the move. My nose has been pressed so hard to the grindstone recently (in part for this very event) that I don't keep a good perspective on the larger picture of what He's doing. Not surprisingly when I think about it, I need others to remind me of who He is and what He's doing on an ongoing basis. And perhaps more surprisingly until I think about it, these necessary others and the reminders God brings in and through them can be remarkably hard to come by for a church staffer.
Who God is and what He's doing are so rarely what I hear about or am tuned into from others. I hear gripes and ideas, wounds and to-dos, evaluations and requests. I don't believe that means we're "doing church wrong" or any such thing; it's just something that can get seriously and hugely out of alignment. And looking at the church as a family system with my old counselor's cap, I'm absolutely part of the system and part of its dysfunction—what I hear is at least as much a function of how and to whom I'm listening as it is about what others are actually saying.
This story of the gospel and its reverberations into our time and culture, this person of Jesus Christ and His relationship with His Bride, this is what's worth working, loving, living, and dying for. Not goal lists or entertaining diversions, not constant churning activity and nitpicking evaluation of projects and people. God has saved His people to be His people, in glory and in the mundane of day-to-day. Choosing one aspect over the other means losing both—they're stitched together like the leather of a baseball.
Much as I love to dabble, design of communities, lifestyles, programs, and systems all takes a back seat to the larger story God is telling—how He's showing up and whether we're showing up. Even when we do so in body, we can still be absent in spirit (though I think the reverse can rarely be true). May I (and we!) be captivated by Him and His story today.