Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul

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“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi, ” the blind man said, “I want to see!” – Mark 10:46-52

“I think – and this applies to all Christian bodies, not just my friend’s denomination – the great challenge is, always, to look at the world with new eyes; and those eyes have to be the eyes of Jesus.”

Here in Wake Forest we typically don’t get a lot of snow. Granted, it’s more of the white fluffy stuff than we ever ran into living around Tampa; but a good snow is rare enough that it means a huge shift in perspective – and seeing with new eyes is one of those things that always gets my attention.

Take our house, for example. I walked down the street to get some snowy shots of the neighborhood, and caught the above view out of the corner of my eye. Same house; same trees; same street… but somehow I’ve never seen it like this (see photo, above) before.

Sometimes I wonder if we become so used to the particular framing devices we use to see the world around us that we become functionally incapable of formulating new ideas? Like the classic Harry Chapin song: “Flowers are red, green leaves are green; There’s no need to see flowers any other way; Than the way they always have been seen.”

Sometimes I wonder if we become so used to the particular framing devices we use to see the world around us that we become functionally incapable of formulating new ideas?

A CHALLENGE FOR THE CHURCH:

Looking through my Nikon lens at the world around our house Saturday afternoon, I was reminded of a conversation my friend Ken started a few days ago on Facebook. Ken is a leader in a Christian denomination that’s been struggling with a kind of identity crisis over the past few decades (is that a fair assessment, Ken?); he threw out a question designed to get other Christian leaders to think creatively.

Here’s Ken’s question:

What is the single greatest challenge we face in the church today that – if we don’t start making progress in addressing in the next 12 to 24 months – we are in essence saying to each other, and the world, “We are ready for the church to cease to exist when our generation is dead?” What do you, my friends, say?

I think – and this applies to all Christian bodies, not just my friend’s denomination – the great challenge is, always, to look at the world with new eyes; and those eyes have to be the eyes of Jesus.

Many churches expend too much passion, and far too much energy staking out and arguing various positions vis-à-vis contentious social and doctrinal issues (and pointing out where everyone else is wrong), while investing not nearly enough time simply inviting people to meet Jesus.

The Gospel of Love is – at its heart – invitational, and that’s something too few church members are any good at.

The Gospel of Love is – at its heart – invitational, and that’s something too few church members are any good at.

Focus on Jesus!

Rebekah and I have always been part of church communities that are vibrant, growing, and full with engaged Jesus-followers of all generations; and, here in Wake Forest, we’re facing a bright future, full with promise and vision. The more I think about this, I believe it’s because we’re so in love with Jesus, and because a key part of our ministry has always been teaching and encouraging people to share that love with the world Jesus came to save.

Back to the challenge question:

I’m going to offer an example from my own experience, and I believe this story cuts to the heart of the problem Ken so poignantly pinpointed when he wrote, “[Are we] in essence saying to each other, and the world, We are ready for the church to cease to exist when our generation is dead?”

I was guest speaker at a men’s conference. When I do this I usually listen more than I talk, and I heard a lot of men complaining that, “The younger men don’t come to these events any more,” and, “Where have all the young men gone who used to come to church?”

So I challenged them during my next presentation. “You’re concerned about the absence of the younger generation in your churches,” I said; “but let me ask you – each individual one of you – how many spiritual children do you have?”

Most of the guys didn’t even know what I was talking about. But the following are some good questions to consider – especially if you want your church to thrive:

  • Is your faith invitational?
  • Do you have the kind of love for Jesus that spills out all over the place?
  • Is your walk with Jesus something you consider worth sharing?
  • Does your church hope for members, or does it grow disciples?
  • Has anyone ever become a disciple because you brought them along to church with you?
  • Has anyone ever met Jesus as a direct result of a relationship with you?
  • How many people are you – personally – nurturing in their growth as disciples in the faith?

You see, people don’t just show up all by themselves and become enthusiastic members of a church. We become disciples… to make disciples… to be disciples… to grow as disciples… to make more disciples… and to continue to invite more people to know Jesus.

People don’t just show up all by themselves and become enthusiastic members of a church. We become disciples… to make disciples… to be disciples… to grow as disciples… to make more disciples… and to continue to invite more people to know Jesus.

15697625_10100872121124572_5621620429416620099_n-008That’s why my (short) answer to Ken’s question is this: Churches that fear they are aging out need to commit to looking at the world around them with new eyes – the eyes of Jesus, the eyes of disciples. If they don’t, then they are going to continue looking around and wondering where all the young men – and young women – are.

And – no – those churches likely won’t exist when that generation is dead. Why? Because they won’t have left behind any spiritual children… because they never had any.

– DEREK

5 thoughts on “Why Jesus wants us to see with new eyes…

  1. Andy Oldham says:

    Some wonderful thoughts and questions to seriously consider.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. derekmaul says:

      I appreciate it, Andy

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Corky Chavers says:

    I like that idea of disciples making disciples. Novel idea.

    Like

  3. MrsFrantz says:

    Really good post. Sometimes we truly do forget to stop and “smell the roses” of life. Many times, I myself have found that as I am asking God to reveal himself to me and show me His plan for my life, He is saying to me, “If you will stop for a moment and just look around and listen you will find the answers you seek.” Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. derekmaul says:

      Thank you. So much to celebrate and be grateful for!

      Like

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