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BALANCE – Part 3 The Role of the Church in Our Balance Act!

Dome ceiling. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

In my last post, I shared that the key to balance is the strength of your center. And the key to spiritual formation is centered on the Godhead’s dynamic work and our partnership with that Grace!

So where can this centered foundation in Christ’s grace and our love for Him and others be attained and practiced?

I would suggest that the local church still can provide a viable option to help us have a strong center in Christ to have greater consistency in a balanced approach to formation.

I think for some, we have given up on the church’s ability to provide this opportunity, but I still think God, in His infinite wisdom, saw the Bride of Christ with greater hope and potential.

Willard both reminds and admonishes us by emphasizing that “Churches are not the kingdom of God, but are primary and inevitable expressions, outposts, and instrumentalities of the presence of the kingdom among us; however, this is an ongoing process, not yet completed today” (Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ, Kindle 198-202).

Bolsinger adds from, It Takes A Church to Raise a Christian, “It hasn’t been rejected so much as ignored or forgotten. But it is critical nonetheless: As God is, so the church should be. As God does, the church should do. With the result being that the more the church is like God, the more individual souls will become like Christ.” (Bolsinger, 11).

Bolsinger goes on to say, “To seekers as well as to its own flock, the church must now announce, “If you desire a transformed life, you must be transformed within the church. If you desire to be changed people, you must change the church. If you would find your life, you must lose it within a redeemed and redemptive community that together lives the manner of abundant and exceptional life that God intended for us.” (Bolsinger, 17-20)

If you would find your life, you must lose it within a redeemed and redemptive community that together lives the manner of abundant and exceptional life that God intended for us.”your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”Tod Bolsinger

The CHALLENGE we have is making sure our local churches are providing emphasis, space, and practice towards being more like the Godhead and demonstrating a love for Him and others (Luke 10:27). Otherwise, as I will address in upcoming posts, we will find ourselves imbalanced in our formation.

I believe the following four areas practiced in the local church can help meet this challenge in the life and faith of the believer in Christ:

  1. Celebration (Large worship gatherings)
  2. Fellowship (Small group type gatherings)
  3. Servanthood (gift expression and usage)
  4. Personal (individual responsibility)

However, before defining these four areas and the importance of a practiced balance of formation that integrates all of them, let us begin with a simplified definition of what I mean by Church.

Thomas Oden, Life in the Spirit, defines the church as the following:

“The Christian church is the community through whom the Holy Spirit administers redemption and distributes gifts, the means in and by which God makes his reconciling work in Christ present to humanity.  The church is called from the world to celebrate God’s own coming, and called to return to the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God that is centered upon God’s personal coming and expected return.” (Oden, 272).

In addition, the Christian church is both the called out (Klesis) and the called together (Ekklesia) that are gathered in various places and times throughout the world as a demonstration of God’s reconciling love, mercy, and justice, the power of transformation, the proclamation of the good news of His Kingdom and the hope of His expected return. 

Bodie Hills Church. Original public domain image from Flickr

Within this definition, the local Church participating within the Kingdom of God should give space for the four areas of a balanced approach to formation – Celebration, Fellowship, Servanthood, and Personal development. (see Figure 1.3).

I believe in the local church…I really do. I have served in it, participated in it, been frustrated by it, and caused frustration. Nevertheless, it is HIs plan A, not perfect, not yet at least, but still HIs plan for His people to gather and grow. However, as I will address in later posts, if we are not mindful that formation is more than attendance, giving, or serving, we will (I might add we are) find that our spiritual formation is imbalanced and anemic.

But I have hope that we can see God’s Plan A, His Church, still be a viable place for our spiritual formation.

Next Post: Part Defining the 4 Four Areas of Balance to Consider for Your Spiritual Formation

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