Church planting is really interesting to me. Sometimes I feel a little judged for that, because it’s one of those things that good church women don’t spend much time on; it seems like it’s the man’s field or something.
The truth is, though, that interest in church planting and churches is beautiful regardless of gender. It’s one of the ways love for God and curiosity about Him manifests itself.
My life plan isn’t to become a church-planter… I just want to understand the Bride of Christ. I want to be a piece of her that functions in beauty. The church is God’s choice vessel for so much of Himself. I want to understand that more and I want to take more joy in God because I know and love His bride.
Awesome men always have awesome brides.
Have you ever noticed that?
I remember awhile back, I was talking with one of my roommates about friendship, and she was curious about my friendships with married couples. I’m friends with a lot of married couples, and it seemed to me that she desperately wanted to be friends with men, but not their wives. She seems to respect men and suspect their wives, which strikes me as odd because every awesome man I’ve ever known has been married to an awesome woman.
Which is one reason why the church is so interesting to me. God attached Himself to her. He loves, protects, leads, serves, disciplines, comforts, engages, and embraces her, and I can’t but think she’s beautiful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about who the church is, and what makes one church appealing to me while another repels me. Of course there are some churches that repel because they are wicked, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the difference between two churches that are both trying their hardest.
What if the difference is similar to the differences between two husbands?
Maybe we have one husband who loves his wife, and works all the time to make sure she feels financially secure. Maybe he exercises every morning to ensure that he has a hot bod she can feel attracted to. Maybe he reads marriage books and tells her that he loves her every night before they go to bed.
Then we have another husband. He has a low-paying job that he works at for exactly 40 hours each week. He keeps a tight budget, and he and his wife have to save up for months just to get the new dryer they need, but he buys his wife a little gift once a month without fail. When he gets home from work, he invites her to go for a jog with him, but if she doesn’t want to, they watch tv together or take a nap. Together, they read books about marriage, and every night, he tells her he loves her.
Now, both of these husbands are well-intentioned. It even seems like they’re both well-planned, but the second husband is definitely the one I want. I want him because he communicates to his wife that he loves her.
That’s how I’m seeing the difference between the two churches I’ve attended this year. Both were trying to be what they ought to be. Both were well-intentioned and well-planned. Both told me that they cared… the difference is that the church I stuck with consistently communicated that care in verbal and non-verbal ways.
Matt Chandler did a sermon way back in January of 2006 called “Loud and Clear” that focused on the importance of that consistent verbal and non-verbal communication. He used marriage as an example, and then he went on to describe how God consistently, persistently speaks to us, and displays His love through action. God didn’t just tell us He loves us.
He came to us when He didn’t have to. In a way that hurt. In a way that was excruciating.
He died giving us more than the verbal.
And when I think about my recent experience with churches, I’m irked by the fact that the big church I was at was doing its best. It was trying. It was planning. It was verbally saying what it ought to say… so how could I reject her? How could I abandon her? How could I say that she wasn’t the church for me, and that her inability to communicate beyond the verbal was a deal-breaker?
I don’t know if that’s fair, but it is a deal-breaker. It’s a deal-breaker for church; it’s a deal-breaker for marriage.
It just is.
Maybe that’s fair because the church and her members bear the image of God, and it’s a false image to leave out the non-verbal. Our God speaks reality into existence. What He says and what we experience are divinely connected; they can’t be separated… therefore they shouldn’t be separated in the church. The church must say that she wants people to know God, and then show that want. She must say that she cares and then care. She must say that she loves and then love.