Sermon Recap: “A Unified Church In A Polarized America”

US-flag-Florida-BridgeAs 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.

What?!? No Church Picnic?

DC 4thEvery year when we don’t schedule a church picnic over the 4th of July weekend, I’m reminded of how much I love Restoration City Church.  I know that sounds strange.  After all, if I really loved the church, I would want to spend the 4th together.  You know the drill – figure out who has the best “secret” fireworks watching spot in the city, have a cookout and have a great time together.  It honestly sounds like fun to me.

Maybe the only thing I would enjoy more is creating space for our church to live on mission this weekend. Go to your neighborhood block party, hang out at the apartment complex pool, invite some friends over to grill out, get a crew together and go to the Mall (not the shopping one, the national one!).  Do whatever you want to do.  Include others from the church.  But find a way to include others who don’t know the gospel.  It’s one the easiest ways we can start living on mission.

That’s why we don’t do a church picnic.  It’s not that we don’t like each other.  It’s that we have a mission that’s worthy of a little sacrifice.  The big question is whether you’ll use the space well.  You don’t have to scrap your plans at this point.  But maybe you should expand the invite list by a few names.

Happy 4th!

What?!? No Church Picnic?

That’s right.  We’re planting a church in the nation’s capital, this Friday is the 4th of July and we’re not having a church picnic.

I guess there are a few possible explanations:

1.  We forgot about it.

2.  We can’t afford it.

3.  We’re unpatriotic.

4.  We’re total idiots.

Or, there’s one more:  We’re really serious about living on mission.

The 4th is a really big deal in DC.  There’s a lot going on and it’s an incredible time to connect with neighbors, co-workers, friends, family or fireworks fans.  It’s a really bad time to pull the church out of the world and huddle together by ourselves.  So, don’t look to RCC for plans on the 4th.

If you don’t know what you’re doing on the 4th yet, it’s not too late.  Start talking to people and see what they’re up to, join in, build relationships and see how God might use you.

I would rather see the church scattered for mission on the 4th than huddled together in isolation.  So, go enjoy the 4th as salt and light in our city!