Monday, December 09, 2013

Merry Xmas

I know it's annoying to many people but I am even more resolved to write "Christmas" as "Xmas."

Yes, I celebrate Christmas. And, no, I'm not trying to annoy purists. Nor am I trying to take "Christ" out of "Christmas." In fact, I'm trying to do the opposite. 

I want to remind people that Christmas without Christ is just a sentimental mess. But, when I say Christ, I mean Jesus Christ who died on the cross. 

No cross.
No Christmas.

Because if there's no cross, there's no Christmas. If Jesus Christ doesn't die for our sins, we aren't celebrating Christmas--not even the shallow, Americanized version. Because there's no hope. Only death and despair.

So why do I insist on "Xmas"? Because that big, fat X is a cross to me. That's what it reminds me of. 

So while it used to bother me when others abbreviated Christmas this way, I am no longer bothered. Because it reminds me about the cross of the Christ-child. And it gives me a ready reason to humbly point it out to others. Ultimately, I want to point people to the Jesus of the cross and resurrection, and make much of the baby born to die...for me.

So, Merry Xmas! 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Church Health Trumps Church Growth

"Their responsibility (leaders listed in v. 11) is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ." Apostle Paul, Ephesians 4:12 NLT

Paul is teaching on the nature of the Church here in Ephesians. In particular, he's writing about what the gifted leaders of the Church should be doing with their spiritual gifts. (listed in v. 11)

What are they supposed to be doing? Building up the church (lit. "body"). Rick Warren says, a healthy church is a church that will grow. Church health trumps church growth. (Purpose-Driven Church)

Paul seems to be saying the same thing here. We equip the church family to mature in Christ. The result is that they will become more and more like Christ towards each other and towards a lost world. Inherent in this is making disciples who make disciples. But also inherent is growing in spiritual maturity is bearing the fruit of the Spirit more and more.

We in the Church focus a lot on growing our local church numerically. I submit that we should spend more thought and effort on growing our church family in the likeness of Christ Jesus. The result can't help but be a loving church that is also growing numerically.

Pray: Lord, help us as church leaders focus less on how to get people in the doors and more on how to lead those already with us to maturity in Christ. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.