Christian Red Sox fans

In thinking about bringing Acadiana churches together to do works of ministry and to show unity, something new occurred to me.

Bringing whole churches together is sometimes barely worth the gigantic effort it takes. It seems like the benefit is two-fold: #1- locals can see the unity between churches and thus, give praise to God [John 17] and #2- pastors and staff members of the churches get to know each other, hopefully fostering continued unity. Both of these are great benefits, but the overall process has inherent problems and I'll tackle these separately.

#1- Locals See Unity Among Churches
Seeing this unity is great, but many times it evaporates as fast as it appears. Despite the occasional inter-denominational event and coalition, most churches in our area are still playing on their own island 99% of the time. And it's really no one's fault. It takes a massive amount of work, time, energy, and elbow grease to continually fashion these inter-denominational events and coalitions. So, great as they may be, they don't really speak to a long-term growing together of the body of Christ.

Before I continue, let me take a second and recognize that there was an extremely united effort to help those affected by the hurricanes. All this was done without a peep of back-biting between churches in the local media. I would still point to this as something temporary... still great, but temporary.

#2- Pastors Discover Unity Between Each Other
This is also a great thing, but the same goal could be reached without all the extra effort. Something like inviting pastors from the area to a free dinner out including their families would be a more streamlined way to connect. It's not hard to think of more ways this could be accomplished besides mega-events between multiple churches.

The Solution
Instead, what if we were uniting Christians instead of churches? I was given a little inspiration from Boston Red Sox fans. If you go to a baseball game in Boston, and a complicated play develops requiring the fielder to throw to third base, most everyone in the stands knows it. You can tell because they boo the fielder if he throws it anywhere else, and cheer when he makes the right play. Developed within the average Bostonite is a sense of how great baseball should be played. On the other hand, if you go to Arizona and watch a baseball game, and the same situation occurs, only half the crowd will boo or cheer appropriately because the average Arizona Diamondback fan doesn't have the same sense of how baseball should be played. We sum it up by saying that Boston is a "baseball town" and Phoenix is not. Sorry, Phoenix, but it's true.

We need to build up a healthy sense of living out the gospel among every believer in Acadiana. Hopefully it will become a "Christ life" town, where the average Acadiana Christian knows what it means to live as Christ in unity, love, and service. Not only that, they will cheer when they see it other people because it will resonate within them. By the same token, the average believer will know when to "boo" when the gospel is not being lived out in churches [whether in disunity, ignoring social needs in their area, etc]. I'm not saying we should create Christian connoisseurs who desire that Church should be their way or no way at all, but to bring believers to a place where they know Christ's life lived out when they see it, even demanding it from each other.

But why? So that the same heresies [i.e. - you must speak in tongues to be saved] don't take out 50 or 100 people every other 10 years. So that the slick, smooth-talking "preacher" doesn't come in and lead whole congregations astray. We can build [and rediscover] a sense of spiritual history in our area and grow from the triumphs and mistakes of the past. So that young and old can have a voice to help shape our future in Acadiana.

First things first, we'd need to get people talking so that they would get to know one another and begin addressing urgent issues. The more people enter the conversation, the more we can learn from each other. A blog or forum would be ideal as anyone can access it and many conversations can happen at the same time. Also, it brings a level playing field for prince and pauper both to be heard. Even if someone wants to be anonymous, they can just drop in on a conversation going on and learn from it. This would eliminate much of the money, time, etc needed to physically join up somewhere and have this huge discussion.

Second, we'd need to guide the conversation to a good place. Somewhere between "every believer must do things exactly like we do or they're hell-bound" and "Hey, whatever you want to do is great" is something like "let's consider the gospel of Jesus Christ and God's Kingdom and, in maturity, discuss the outworkings of the basics and how we can do it better."

Third, we'd need to get spiritually mature people talking and initiating conversation. Let's face it, if all this becomes is a few three-year-old Christians with no history or maturity to draw from, we won't go anywhere for a while. A few "sages" in the mix would help the conversation get jump-started in very cool way.

In summary, the goal is bringing the average Acadiana Christian to increased spiritual maturity through conversations about how we, as the Church, could better live out and preach the gospel according to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This is possible. This is necessary. The future of Christianity in Acadiana can be nurtured to increased maturity. Let's put our minds to how this would work itself out.