|Bonnie Brook Baptist Church | Waukegan, IL|
Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission said during his talk at The Global Leadership Summit, that Christians and the church are "God's plan A" to heal a hurting and broken world (thanks John Prickett for this quote). The Apostle Paul specifically states that God's glory is to be revealed through the church (Ephesians 3), and that Christ desperately loves the church and laid down His life for it (Eph. 5.25).
|Cause this relationships makes a ton of sense...|
For all the seminarians out there, don't worry, I'm going to tread very lightly on the theology of the church (sorta). I don't begin to pretend to have a in depth understanding of church history and the specific "type" of church that Paul is referring to in his letters. That is way too dense a terrain for my bushwhacking. But I do sometimes wonder if we simply don't have a full picture of the church.
Going back to my original blog post, I've recently realized just how self-serving I have been in the church. In many ways, I feel like the church owes me something. Unfortunately, I don't think that I am unique. I think it a common problem experienced by many churches. After I posted Part 1, a friend left this comment on my facebook page:
"I've always said the church would be a fantastic place if it wasn't for the people. Funny....but true. We all have our faults, personal desires, preferences and opinions. In order for a church to be fully effective a majority of the leaders and lay people need to be servants and set aside their personal agenda to give glory to the Lord."
|I think this may be an oxymoron|
But despite all the church splits, pastors in the news, terrible church signs and awful music, it still seems like God is in favor of the church.
Bonnie Brook Baptist Church was located in Waukegan, Illinois. Waukegan is about forty miles north of Chicago, right on Lake Michigan. According to a census that was taken in 2010 (taken from the city's Wikipedia page) of the roughly 90,000 people that live in Waukegan, 53% are Hispanic or Latin, 46% white, 19% black, 4.3% Asian, 1.2% Native American and 4.1% reported other races. As you can see the city is quite diverse.
|I have no idea what an "art-friendly community" is|
|That's me in the goalie jersey|
He always enjoyed engaging and celebrating folks from different cultures. Despite the fact that he played college basketball and coached basketball throughout most of his adult life, the only sport I remember him forcing us to play was soccer. Soccer is, after all, a global game. If we were to be "globally-minded" it was a sport we had to learn.
The fact that my dad new nothing about the game of soccer, was not a deterrent. In fact, he even ran soccer clinics at the church every summer with the hopes of attracting some of the minority populations that lived near the church.
My dad loved serving the Lord in such a diverse city. The church, however, did not necessarily mirror this diversity. I don't want to criticize the church, but the congregation closely resembled the 1965-66 Kentucky men's basketball team.
|Does #42 look familiar? Hint: He's the reason this happened|
The church was...very...white...
My dad loved his congregation. He just wished it more closely reflected the population of the city. Fast forward several years. In 2004, after the congregation dwindled to about twelve members, the elders of the church voted on two items. One, if they church should close it doors for good, and two should they give the building to Journey Church, a small church that had been renting Bonnie Brook's facilities. They voted "yes" on both issues.
I do not intend to minimize the pain that many endured because of Bonnie Brook's end. As I've previously stated, I have a difficult time trusting the church because of this reality. However, I believe the mission of Journey Church is far from coincidence.
|Foyer of Journey Church|
|Sanctuary of Journey Church|
|2012-13 San Antonio Spurs|
In a very roundabout way, my father's dream for the church became a reality. I think this is an example of how God uses His church. Despite the flaws, wounds, self-serving nature and general weaknesses of it's people, the church can be used for the redemptive purposes of God. No matter how badly we try to screw it up, I think God can use the church. I know God uses the church in ways we don't understand or expect. Like Paul writes in in 1 Corinthians 13, "Now we see but a poor reflection." Unfortunately this doesn't explain why churches continue to hurt people (both intentionally and unintentionally). Frankly this still baffles me. But God has a beautiful way of redirecting (think like a GPS).
For some reason, God has committed to the church as his "Plan A" and for that reason I do believe the church can change the world.
And if the church is "Plan A" for the redemption of the world, then church-league softball must be "Plan B."