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What's Your Church’s ‘Rep’? | SKMB

What's Your Church’s ‘Rep’?

What's the reputation of your church? That is a difficult question to ask, and you might not want to hear the answer to it, but it is a question I have been asking about the church I lead. What's our reputation? If people heard the name The Compass West, what would be the rumours, what would be the buzz about us, what would we be known for? 

There are many things that I would love to hear: Gospel centred preaching, amazing worship, great kids ministry, a loving community. I would even take "They have good coffee." Those would be great things to be known for, but as I think it through, there is something else I would love my church to be known for: A place where anyone can come and grow deep in their relationship with Jesus. 

Don't get me wrong; those other compliments would be wins. When I hear compliments like that, I write them down and tape them to my desk as reminders, little pick me ups, for the challenging seasons that come with ministry. Yet, there is something about having a church culture where anyone can come and grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus that has captivated me. Wasn't this heart of Jesus' ministry?  Wasn't this what made his ministry so scandalous as the kingdom of God invaded this world (Matthew 11:19)?  The broken, the outcast, the worst of sinners found safety, love and grace with Jesus, and as they encountered that grace, they were transformed. 

That's the kind of culture I want to be in and the kind of culture I want to have The Compass West ooze. So the question has been, "How can we develop this kind of culture?" One of the voices that have given me insight into that question is Ray Ortlund. Ray has written and spoken a lot about what he calls a "Gospel Culture." He says there are three key ingredients to create a culture where anyone can grow. 

1. Gospel

The gospel is the key ingredient to create a culture where anyone can come and grow in their relationship with Jesus. The gospel is good news for bad people, that through Jesus' life, death and resurrection we can have a restored relationship with Jesus. From the pulpit, to the Sunday school classes, to midweeks groups, the gospel needs to be on our lips. We are in need to be continuously reminded of it and soaked in it. There is no such thing as over-exposure to the gospel of Jesus, but there is a real danger to not getting enough of it. 

2. Safety

Whenever I think about safety, I go back to an experience I had at a home group in high school. I was visiting this group with a friend, and as the night came to an end, they asked for people to share a prayer request. Awkward silence engulfed the room, and people avoided eye contact until one of the leaders spoke up, "You guys all know Sarah isn't here tonight. We need to pray for her tonight; she has really fallen into sin." This leader went on into the personal details of this girl's sin and how horrible it was. 

It was a cringe-worthy moment, but worst of all, it told the group that you are not safe to be real here. If you confess your sins, the real sins you are struggling with, you will be looked down upon, possibly embarrassed, and gossiped about. This place is not safe for sinful people, but just for those who can hide their sin and put on a good smile. 

A place where anyone can come and grow is a place where you know you won't be embarrassed, ashamed, gossiped about. It is a place where you can be real; you can be honest and spill your soul, knowing you have nothing to fear. 

3. Time

Transformation takes place over some time. I struggle with this. I want to see instant results, transformation change over days, not years, and yet the reality is Jesus process of change in my life is slow. Humans are complicated, and any deep level change in our lives will take time. The question is if we are willing to give them the space they need to see this change take place.  No pressure, no plan, no hurry. 

My prayer is that God would use these three ingredients to create a gospel culture in the Compass West. So, the question is, "What do you want your church to be known for?”

Luke Etelamaki, SKMB Discipleship Coach

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