Lifeway commissioned a survey in 2007. One of the key questions folks where asked was about what they thought of the church.
Their answer? They said the church was full of hypocrites. They said we care more about organized religion than loving God and loving people.
We might not like their answer, but consider it from their perspective.
We do often get caught up in the finer points of organized religion. We fuss about theology and doctrine. We argue about music or debate whether to tithe on gross or net income. We get into sometimes heated discussions over whether tongues are valid today, what it means to be filled with the Spirit, and whether salvation is predestined by God or the result of our free will choice to follow Jesus.
I wonder what Jesus would think of all this.
When Jesus was asked by a lawyer how a person inherited eternal life, he didn’t talk with him about theology (and there was much conversation about theology in Jesus’ day). Jesus asked him, What’s written in the Law? (or we might say, What does the Bible say?)
The lawyer answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as your self. Do that, Jesus said, and you will have eternal life.
So just what does it mean for us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves? That question is at the heart and core of Loving Houston. When our leadership team began designing Loving Houston we wanted to develop a mechanism by which we could say to the city that we, the church, do love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and one of the ways we show that is by loving our neighbor(hoods) as ourselves.
That’s why we met with Mayor Parker last year and asked what were the most under-resourced neighborhoods in our city.
That’s why we went to these communities and asked them to help us identify projects--things we could do--that would help them, make their homes and neighborhoods better places to live and their schools better places to learn.
That’s why we are asking churches to be part of Loving Houston, to adopt one of these neighborhoods, take on one or more of these projects, and go into these communities the first week of June.
It’s all part of our commitment to “mobilize churches to take on lostness” because we hope while we are serving people will come up and ask, “who are you and why are you doing this?” Then we have an open door to share the gospel with them.
Sharing the gospel is our ultimate motive, but not an ulterior motive. We will serve them because we are Christians whether they become Christians or not.
If you, your church, your class, your group hasn’t signed up to participate in Loving Houston yet, I hope you will soon. You can do that by going to www.lovinghouston.net. There you can find a prayer guide for the city, see all the neighborhoods where we will work, overview the projects and sign up for the one you want to do.
You can even find more information about some fun events we have planned -- 5k, 10k and Family Fun walk plus a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
By participating in Loving Houston we can show the city that our churches are not fully of hypocrites who care more about organized religion than loving God and loving people. We love God and we love them and we'll prove it by what we do!
God willing, Loving Houston is going to be one of the greatest initiatives in UBA history. It will be if you’ll join us.