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Nehemiah vs. The American Church

Photo by Nick Chill via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I love the audacity great faith brings.

It’s idealistic. It’s over-the-top. It’s incomprehensibly arrogant simplicity. It’s stupid fun to be around.

And that’s why I love my church.

This little church in the city truly believes they can be instrumental in seeing a new San Diego rise up to be an amazing place to live.

Right now, we’re in a sermon series on the book of Nehemiah.

As I read the narrative I can’t get past step one.

Step one of rebuilding your city? Chapter 1… lay on your face and be honest in confessing to God.

O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:5-7

What I love about Nehemiah and its message to the church is obvious… it’s not about your church, people. The purpose of the church isn’t to build a little empire. It’s to bring life to a dead and dying city. It’s to see the gospel bring renewal.

When I look out over the landscape of church culture I can’t help but see that we’re missing step one.

We need to deal with our own hearts. And we need to focus on the city and not our fiefdom.

This next passage absolutely wrecked my view of the local church. At the end, when Jesus comes to judge the church, Revelation 2-3 gives us a glimpse of how he judges the church… it should change how you and I do business.

v. 1 “To the angelĀ of the church in Ephesus write”

v. 8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write”

v. 12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write”

v. 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write”

3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write”

v. 7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write”

v. 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write”

In case you missed it. Jesus isn’t judging the work of a single, local church. He’s judging the work of His body in each city.

Can I get an Amen?

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

3 replies on “Nehemiah vs. The American Church”

Isn’t the Body of Christ in each city an aggregation of single, local churches? Are you advocating a San Diego mega-church? Should they focus on San Diego proper? What about the unincorpated parts of North County? Second-tier priority?

Ha! Well, I am not Jesus so I don’t know how this will work out.

I’m more trying to say that local churches need to work together as an aggregate. I see some of the stuff we do and think that churches get caught up in trying to one-up each other and miss the goal altogether.

There’s simply too many churches worrying about people who already go to church while “the church” could do a better job reaching the various people groups in a community. Evangelicals tend to focus on a single demographic… and they wonder why they aren’t growing?

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