I spent 5 days in New Orleans last week with 55 students and fellow adults. We worshiped with some 500-plus campers, met daily in small groups to study, and we served others in various ways and in a multitude of places. What a week!
But, boy, was I all wrong! I had nothing to fear. From travel to accommodations to relationships – no worries. God obviously went before us. Lesson learned!
The greatest lesson for me, however, had more to do with life back home. More specifically, my role as pastor.
The camp is intentionally mission-based. The bulk of each day was focused off-site at ministry sites and squarely on the needs of others. In short, we were there for others, not ourselves.
For years (29) I have pastored Mt. Carmel Church. During that time my desire has been to make Mt. Carmel the best it can be for the glory of God and the good of Cross Plains. In short, I’ve worked hard to make it the “best church IN the community.”
I’ve gone about it all wrong! More often than not, my gaze has been on us as opposed to others.
Much of my effort has been internally focused, rather than externally driven. I’ve been more concerned with what “we” think as opposed to who “they” are, what “we” want as to what “they” need, more concerned with pleasing “us” than reaching “them.”
I’m aiming for a change of direction. Instead of asking, “How can we be the best church IN the community?” – and budgeting and staffing and planning and preaching accordingly – I want to change our approach.
The externally focused church asks, “How do we become the best church FOR our community?” That one little preposition changes everything.
This past week in New Orleans at camp has changed me.
Question: How do you think we can become the best church FOR the community?