As life settles back to normal after the 4th of July, I still find myself thinking about yesterday’s sermon at Restoration City. If you missed it, you can download the podcast here. If you call Restoration City your church home, I would encourage you to listen to the message.
As America grows more polarized, there’s a temptation for local churches to become more specialized. We end up with little churches all over the city designed to cater to the specific needs, preferences and desires of a narrow demographic. Want a politically liberal, family friendly church with a lot programs and a great band? We’ve got one! Want a hipster focused, vegan church? Got one. Looking for one that caters to the elderly? We’ve got dozens! Christians find their niche (we call it church shopping) and settle in for a long, comfortable, cozy little ride.
Not only do we end up looking just like America but we also betray the gospel of Christ in the process. Jesus is building a church that spans racial, socio-economic, political and life stage lines. He isn’t building churches for singles and churches for families and churches for retirees. He’s building His church; a gloriously messy, integrated, diverse and unified family. He’s weaving crying babies, confused teenagers, optimistic 20 somethings and seasoned 50 year olds together into something far greater than we could ever achieve in our own little demographic ruts.
Restoration City isn’t just a church for single, 26 year old young professionals with an affinity for North Carolina. We’re aiming for something more God honoring than that. God is calling us to be a church that unites difference communities, different sides of the aisle, different races and different life stages. It’s going to take intentionality, patience, humility and love for one another to get there. But I absolutely believe it’s where God is calling us.
The path to unity is paved by the gospel. If we diminish the central truths of our faith in the name of unity, we’ll fail in our quest for unity in at least two different ways. One, we’ll have nothing to unite around. Unity for the sake of unity isn’t compelling. Unity under the banner of Christ is. Two, we’ll find ourselves incapable of the kind of love, humility and patience required to pursue unity. The simple reality is we can’t get where we’re going apart from the power of God. We need the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit to get where God is calling us to live.
So, Restoration City, I pray that together we will grow deeper in the gospel. I pray God will unite our hearts around His mission for our church. I pray we will continue to live in community. And I pray our doors will be perpetually open to those from different backgrounds, life stages and beliefs. I pray we will display a shockingly counter cultural unity that captures the imagination of a polarized city that sits as the capital of a polarized nation.