I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a friend recently. This wasn't your ordinary, everyday chit-chat. This was a discussion filled with questions, personal conviction, and challenges. It was one of those occasions that makes you stop and really think through why you believe what you believe. While it was uncomfortable at times, I must admit this time together really did three things.
First, it reinforced my personal belief system. Unfortunately, many people are never put into a position where they are challenged to really think through why they believe what they believe when it comes to their faith. But, for me, the discussion was something that strengthened me, and it really strengthened my roots. So many people want to avoid tough questions about their faith. They feel like it may cause them to lose faith. But, facing the tough questions only increases it. It doesn't mean you won't have to wrestle with things; but, in the end you'll be even more grounded than you were before - if you seek God in the process.
Second, the conversation gave me an even greater appreciation for what we do at NorthStar Church. By closely examining what we do at NorthStar - not only on Sunday mornings, but each and every day - I was able to put it all through the filter of our Mission Statement. That's one thing we do consistently on staff at the church - any idea or endeavor must be filtered through the Mission. If having an event or program doesn't carry out the mission to "show God's love" to others, we don't do it. And, sometimes even if it DOES support the mission, we don't do if it's going to compromise us in another area. It's always wise to examine your own motives, and put them up against your mission.
Finally, the conversation reaffirmed the idea that each church has its own calling. The church (not NorthStar, but the church as the body of believers) is constantly under indictment, not only from the secular world - but even from churches themselves. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard pastors of churches talk about how "the church" has gotten it wrong. Or, that "this church" is so much better than "these churches." Or, "our church needs to be more like that church." The fact is we need all of them.
Rick Warren once said, "It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people." That is not an opinion. That is absolute truth. The Church at Corinth was not the Church at Ephesus. The Church at Ceasarea Philippi was not the Church at Thessalonica. Your church should not be my church. And, my church should not be striving to be another church. Each church should be called to a specific mission in a particular area. We all need each other.
That is why I am so thankful that NorthStar partners with so many great churches - locally, nationally, and internationally - to live out the Great Commission. NorthStar cannot reach the entire world. We can't reach all of Atlanta. And, as much as we'd like to, we can't reach all of Acworth and Kennesaw. It takes all of us.
In the end, I guess my advice to someone would be to embrace the tough conversations. You'll never know what God has to say through you - and TO you - if you avoid them.