Friday, September 09, 2005

Supernatural Disaster

Joe McKeever is the director of missions of the New Orleans Baptist Association... as you can imagine, he's had an insane couple of weeks. (Which, of course, you can read about over on his website.) Mark Puckett, my Canadian pastor buddy, called the following post to my attention and I just wanted to pass it on. It's incredibly cool to here someone seeing the incredible opportunity for the body of Christ to re-tool because of something this horrible.

HERE'S MY DREAM FOR WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER.... Over the past 16 months as I've gone in and out of churches all over metro New Orleans, I've been struck by how alive and vibrant some are and how sickly and needy others seem. Some are healthy champions and others practically on life support. And the poor pastors of the sickly churches, it's all they can do to get up the strength to re-enter the pulpit for another Sunday.

Our people in New Orleans have heard it from me time and again that our churches are ISOLATED and therefore our people are INSULATED. The members of one church do not know the members of another, leaders do not know other leaders, and everyone feels alone and lonely. Whenever a prophet arises and speaks up and calls for God's people to break out of their cocoons, their shells of isolation, and get into the community and get to know their neighbors and to minister in Jesus' name, he is met by stares of despair that seem to say, "You don't know my situation. I'm so busy with my committee meetings and church programs and classes. I don't have time for my family now, and you're trying to put more jobs on me."

So, what does the Lord do? He shut the whole business down. Closed all the churches in the New Orleans area, every last one of them. Then, He sent the pastors home to rest and be quiet and pray. It's as though God is giving them time to reflect on what they would do if they could start their church anew, from scratch, from the ground up.

Here's a good question for every New Orleans pastor: "If you could start from scratch with your people, what would you leave off? What would you start? What would you do different?" Because this is precisely the situation you have been handed. God has given you a burden for ministering in your neighborhood in ways that really make a difference, don't ask anyone, pastor, just start doing it. If you've had dead programs that refused to lie down and go away, then simply do not restart them. Now, pastor, don't use that terminology. Just tell your people, "We'll get to that later as the Lord leads." That's not a fib; if God leads, you will get to it. But not until.

When we re-enter the city, we are going to have the greatest window of opportunity most of us have ever seen and may ever see again in our lifetime. If we are foolish, we will piddle this time away with planning meetings and discussions and forums. We will neglect the hurting people who live around us and convince them that we are irrelevant to real life. The greatest tragedy of Katrina, THE REAL SUPERNATURAL DISASTER, will be if our pastors and our churches miss this opportunity. Let's don't mess this up.

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