Monday, March 31, 2014

The Church is for the World

For those of you who have been asking whether I will continue to write a blog post after this week, my last week as Senior Pastor at First Pres, Colorado Springs, the answer is yes.  I will keep the same web-address, and I would love to stay in touch!

This past week I have been battling a cold/flu/cough thing.  Actually, as I have spoken with literally hundreds of people this week, I am amazed at how many people have the same flu thing.  After hacking my way through the better part of the week, I finally broke down and got some antibiotics, and am doing better.  I recommend that if you are sick, you do the same.

Now, having taken these antibiotics - these magical little pills, penicillin, I am simply amazed at how effective this little invention is.  Underneath the red, sugar coated pills is a secret ingredient - mold.   We all know the story of how Alexander Fleming discovered that when these mold follicles were pitted against influenza and other viruses, the flu was attacked and nullified (picture above).  Penicilin was made for infection.  If penicilin is not applied to a sickness or a disease, it is useless.  Actually mold is quite disgusting in it's raw and basic form.  Just ask my refrigerator!

I have been thinking about another thing that is totally useless unless it is applied to the thing that it was made to help.  The church (and by this I mean, The Church, not any church in particular), is totally useless unless it is applied to the world.

The Church is For the World

When Jesus ascended into heaven on his fortieth day after being resurrected, he left the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Not long thereafter this, The Church was born.  Out of prayer and petition, and the moving of the Holy Spirit, the church was born.  We are told by Luke in the book of Acts, that in the upper room, where the disciples were praying, there were little licks of fire that appeared on people's heads.  At the same time, there was a Holy wind coming from God.  These things in and of themselves were interesting from an extraterrestrial, God encounter kind of way, but in and of themselves they were useless.  It wasn't until these disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, descended the steps of the upper room and went into the streets of Jerusalem that The Church was born.

The Church is For the World

Churches are complex organisms.  They are made up of people, and all people have problems (myself included).  Churches are made up of administrative systems that are important for the functioning of the church.  Churches are made up of leaders who strive to seek the will of God as they lead.  Churches are made up families, all which come with their own sets of marital difficulties, adolescent misbehavior, and juvenile developmental challenges.  Churches are comprised of financial boards and oversight structures.  Churches have staff leaders and lay leaders, each of whom have their own individual visions of what is most important.  Churches are complex!

But The Church was not meant to exist for these functions alone.  The Church was not meant to reside in the upper room.  Church was not meant to sit in a pill bottle on the shelf.

The Church is For the World

And the world has so many things that ail it.  The world is full of war, calamity, brokenness, heartache, disfunction, corruption, and just plain hopelessness.  The world needs what the church offers.  Church is the pill in the bottle that has to be opened, and applied to the sickness that it confronts.  Otherwise it remains a sugar coated moldy thing that has no use.

The Church is For the World

All For Now,


  1. I have enjoyed watching your sermons and reading your blog posts. Hearing about your resignation, I revisited your past five blog posts to see what clues you left for what was really going on in your heart and what may have led to your decision. Starting with the Jimmy Fallon post until today, here is how it appears to me:

    You feel torn between the traditions of the older generation and being relevant to the younger generation (Bridging the Generation Gap).

    You feel that the towering, institutional church building is off-putting to those you're trying to reach (Do You Have An Angry Car?).

    You feel isolated and de-energized by the demands of pastoring a large, historic church (Social).

    You feel that your unique calling would be stifled at First Pres in the long run (Unique).

    You feel that reaching out beyond the walls of the church could be better accomplished someplace else (The Church is for the World).

    Please correct me if I'm wrong. I wish you and your family all the best.

  2. Most of society likes to think Colorado Springs is a haven for Christ's followers. The reality is more go to 'church' in Boulder county than El Paso county. I didn't say they were all Christian but, neither are they here either. Graham your church growth in CA started from scratch with non-believers, and that had to have felt awesome to experience that kind of growth. I'm not kidding when I say, I feel 1st pres would have to die and be reborn to experience that same feeling. Roughing up the feathers doesn't go over well here but, as you can see, if it makes people uneasy, it at least makes then think.
    Finding that needle in a hay stack isn't easy but, by George you've done it. God had this orchestrated before you were born. Good luck & God Speed!

  3. Well said, Graham. This is precisely what I meant in my brief email to you last week where I stated that your pending departure made me "sad for the un-churched of Colorado Springs."

    During the past 18-months, you've helped me realize the importance of opening the aperture of FPC.

    Good luck.

  4. The church is for the world and I am thankful for my church home at 1st Pres that gives me strength and encouragement to minister in the world. I will never forget Christmas Eve 2012. As we left for church, we saw laser beam lights shooting in the distance. My son asked, “Mama what is it and where is it coming from?” I replied that it looked like a marketing ploy for a business, maybe a car dealership but this wouldn’t be likely on Christmas Eve. As we drove downtown, the lights became closer. Imagine the shouts of joy and surprise when we discovered that it was coming from our church. While walking in, the children said, “We have the best church in the world!!” We invited an acquaintance to go to church with us that night. This man has led a wayward life and despite growing up in a Christian home, had not set foot in a church for 25 years. Seeing the tears stream down his face during the service, I was especially grateful for you and our church in helping us reach out to the world.

    I was especially grateful for your series on Joy. Your thoughts and the verse “Be Joyful Always, Pray continuously, Be thankful in all circumstances along with the bulletin picture of the series taped to my bathroom mirror, has given me encouragement during a rough time. I’m thankful too for our Sunday school class at First Pres. We can be real and pray for each other which helps empower us to take the church to the world.

    I was thankful for your marriage series. We can’t be effective tools in the world if our marriages aren’t strong. You may not know, or maybe you do, the immense challenges and pain that affect many of the marriages at First Pres. You were the first that I can remember in my 16 years at First Pres that addressed marriage issues.

    I am thankful that you inspired us to find ways to reach out to the world in our city. This summer, our family was looking forward to passing out water with you to the skateboarders at Monument Valley Park. Your presence would have had a huge impact on these young men.

    It is a loss for our church and family that you are leaving. Our family loved you and your messages. My only regret is that we didn’t follow through and have you and your family over for dinner and that I never sent a note of thanks and encouragement. Many questions remain that will probably never be answered. Having personally sacrificed to complete a doctorate, I’m not sure it was your choice or the church’s choice to work on a doctorate and write a book. Though admirable goals, it’s a lot to do this with a young family while shepherding/equipping a large congregation so that they can GO be the church for the world.

    You will be missed. We wish you and your family God’s richest blessings.