March 5, 2013

What if We Based Our Decisions on Community Instead of Self-Interest?

When was the last time you met a person who took a decision in their life based on how it would affect their Christian community? As a pastor, I am often informed about decisions to move house, job, etc. and my immediate response is always twofold:

  1. What is the motivation behind your decision? 
  2. Where will you be worshipping?

For a clear majority of people, the answer to my first question boils down to economics—more money, space, or better prospects etc. Question two is often met with blankness. In all of the careful planning and thought of moving on, the idea of thinking about where to worship is not even considered with anything like serious intent. It is assumed, with a shrug, that ‘something will turn up’. What’s church got to do with it? This is about me and my family. There will probably be a decent church nearby, but if not we’ll find one somewhere. The implicit reasoning behind this is often, ‘God will sort out the “spiritual” stuff and I will take care of the rest.’The spiritual ramifications do not even warrant a thought for many Christians.

How will it affect my local church if I move? What about my responsibilities in my local church? Who will take those on?

Those are, sadly, ridiculous questions in the mind of many believers in our society. Many decisions made today come to pastors as fait accompli rather than as seeking spiritual wisdom. I know there will even be many reading this thinking, ‘What’s it got to do with my pastor what I do in my personal life? That’s a bit “heavy shepherding” isn’t it?’

There is a great post here on Kevin DeYoung’s blog about a movement of church planting and growth in our inner cities. He is writing about church planting in cities. But my question to believers in the UK is this:

What if, instead of bettering career prospects, becoming more upwardly mobile and being near a better school for your children, you made a decision to move into one of the council estates or schemes in your area? What if you made the decision based on the need to see healthy, gospel-centred churches in these areas? What if, instead of moaning about “urban decay” we moved back in with our skill set and set about the work of “spiritual regeneration” in our schemes and estates?

I wonder what the spiritual landscape of our country would begin to look like then?

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