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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

07 Aug '11

The church as a redemptive community

Local congregations that desire to mirror the heart of Jesus willingly and intentionally embrace the role of being a redemptive community - embracing the broken and the hurting with the goal of moving them toward wholeness and healing.

Listen to the heart of Jesus: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." In the cosmic battle between the evil one and Christ, the evil one will do all he can to destroy people made in the image of God. Any way he can bring destruction he does and will. The pseudo satisfaction of sin is just that: the promise of joy and wholeness through the violation of righteousness and holiness. And with that destruction comes pain, guilt, sadness, addictions, relational brokenness and all the undoneness that characterizes our societies.

Jesus on the other hand, through the cross and the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit is in the business of redeeming what the evil one has destroyed and stolen in order to restore the image that He created us in - His image. Redemption is not just redeemed hearts (it starts there) but it is the bringing of life and life in all its fullness to people who have been damaged and victimized by the evil one. It is an ongoing process from brokenness to wholeness. 

If that is the desire, ministry and commitment of Jesus, it must also be that of the church. We are a community of the redeemed after all, who are together on a journey toward greater wholeness as we pursue His image. As such, we are looking for the broken and hurting, introducing them to Christ, and as a part of our discipleship, helping them move from their brokenness to wholeness.

Do we see ourselves that way and do we portray that "redemptive community" to those we seek to reach? Here is an interesting observation. Most advertising for local churches portrays happy, intact, prosperous families, vibrant worship, healthy people who seem to have it all together and are living the American dream. If you doubt me, check out the web sites of local churches. What does that say to the broken, discouraged, divorced, and addicted individual who is looking for hope? It probably says, there is no one here that is in my shoes. Now look at the ads for local counseling centers or drug rehab centers and you get the picture. And by the way, what does the American dream have to do with following Jesus?


How do we see ourselves in the local church? Do we see ourselves as a place for people who have it together or a place for people who don't but want to go there? Are we a community of the redeemed, moving toward His image (slow and difficult as that is) or do we already have it together? (an oxymoron until we get to heaven). Are we looking for the "nice" people or the "broken" people?


To put this into New Testament perspective, the nice and the together were the Pharisees who looked the part on the outside but were in Jesus words merely "white washed tombs." The redeemed who were moving toward wholeness from brokenness were the tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, and generally the scum of the earth who understood brokenness and craved wholeness. 


I wonder if the modern day pharisees are those who pretend that they  have it together spiritually when inside there is a lot of hidden darkness and brokenness. I wonder if the modern day prostitutes and tax collectors are those who know how desperately broken they are and who genuinely crave the mercy, love and wholeness that Jesus brings. That is what a redemptive community looks like. Can whole congregations be characterized by one group or the other?