Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where is the Church?

When I was 17, I went on a trip to Ukraine with youth from my church. We spent a week and a half in a little town called Novovolynsk and although most of the time is a blur, there is one day that is ingrained in my memory forever.

It was a Sunday and we visited the church we were partnering with. After the service, the pastor took us on a tour of the city to show us all the different ministries this church was involved in. The tour took a few hours and it seriously blew my (young, immature) mind. We visited the farms that they ran in order to provide jobs for those who were unemployed and food for those who were hungry. (One of their farms harvested lettuce that was purchased and used by EVERY SINGLE McDonald's in the country!!) We visited the coffee shop/community center that provided a safe place for the youth to hang out. We visited the only drug and alcohol rehab center in the area that provided free care the community. We visited the downtown area, where the pastor and lay leaders regularly met with the City officials as equal partners in running the city. Are you getting the picture? This church was an integral part of the society in this little city and beyond. They were at the table for every discussion affecting the people and development of the city. This church was not afraid of engaging in political issues, because they understood that advocating is a Christian mandate. If it affected those God had called them to love, then they were there.

As I reflect on my experience on this trip, I can't help but wonder how drastically different our society would be if the church in America was more like this church in Novovolynsk. What if we weren't afraid of members leaving or scaring people away by taking a stand on social issues? What if we boldly proclaimed that we have the answer to ALL of societies problems and what if we acted on that truth? What if those outside of the church saw us as an institution that was desperately NEEDED in all aspects of society? What if we loved every orphan, every drug addict, every displaced person, every politician, every CEO with the confidence that HIS love is enough to change the world?

President Obama recently sat down with a group of political and faith leaders to discuss Immigration and ask for their help in finding solutions for our broken Immigration system. I am thankful that he recognizes the importance and influence of the faith community, but I wonder how many within the Body, are willing to be apart of that discussion. It's funny that Christians are some of the most passionate patriots our country has, yet we say "the Church shouldn't be involved in politics." I believe we should be all up in politics. We should be holding our leaders accountable to the standards and values this country was founded on. We should be the loudest ones advocating for the rights, justice and protection of the weak among us. We should be involved in politics, not to gain power and prestige, but simply because we have the answer. It's time we get back to the scriptures, seek out His wisdom in the many issues affecting the world around us, and assert the voice God has given us.

*DISCLAIMER*This post is really painting a broad stroke of the American church in general. I am not so cynical and arrogant to believe or state that every single US church is totally off base. I just think we can be better :)