The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XVII
Going on field trips is always better than in-classroom experiences. Even studying the topic of the local sewage plant was better on the road than in class. Experiencing the Holocaust by walking through the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. proved way more effective than just reading The Diary of Anne Frank out of one’s literature books. Experiencing history rather than just reading about it has always been the goal of a social studies or history teacher.
The same is true with the Church if it is to be retooled for the 21st Century. Experiencing Jesus is more important than just reading or listening to a sermon about him. Experiencing faith is always more powerful than reading about faith or hearing a lecture about it.
Field trips are recorded throughout the New Testament: The Road to Emmaus with the disciples being taught along the way, the parable of the Good Samaritan along the road, Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch trying to decipher the mysteries of the book Isaiah, the woman at the well, Zacheas sitting in a roadside tree, Saul getting knocked off his horse receiving the revelation of whom he had been persecuting, are only a few of the recorded field trips, but every situation proved to be powerful.
How would taking spiritual field trips throughout the neighborhoods surrounding our church buildings effect what goes on inside those buildings? What would the church learn if it “hung out” with its neighbors instead of investing hours in committee meetings? What effect would the church have if the Men’s Bible Study decided to hang out at a local bar just talking to the men there and allowing the bar tender to not play “pastor” to his despairing visitors for at least one evening.
Servicing opportunities like meeting the needs of the widows, the elderly, the ill, and the poor always produces powerful fruit. Even the serenity of a men’s fishing trip, like the disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee, has its impact. The church has had a mindset for centuries that the lost needs to come “in” rather than the church being sent “out”, yet the Great Commission is all about being sent out.
Even if a scholar has studied the scriptures, read all the books on theology of salvation, but never personally experienced the saving gospel, all his knowledge has been in vain. If he has had read volumes of books on evangelism, but has never lead anyone into the saving grace of the Lord, all his reading has been in vain. The “experience” is always better than the “head knowledge”.
Maybe instead of “rethinking” about the 21st Century Church, we need to be “experiencing” the 21st Century Church.