More than the Motions

The Motions New Series It's popular these days to focus on getting the church "out of the building" to serve others. I'm all for it. Many churches spend too much time cloistered in holy huddle of sorts, off mission, and internally focused. However, there is another way we might be able to accomplish the same goal more effectively. There is another possible explanation for a lack of servanthood, mission-drift, and lack of evangelistic fervor. I wonder if such things aren't first a symptom of an impoverished inner life. In fact, I don't just wonder. I'm convinced.

Those close to Christ will resemble him inevitably over time. At the same time, serving while not close to Christ is a nice thing to do, but little more. This isn't to say that service doesn't have some intrinsic worth. It's also not to say that one doesn't grow closer to Christ by serving. It's to say that serving itself does not a Christian make. Just as God doesn't desire worship offered by those who spurn the basin and the towel, God isn't asking for a generation of Marthas who spurn fellowship with Christ. Following the servant Christ by serving is how disciples live. It must be lived out in that order.

Both Scripture and experience lead me to the conclusion that unless a person or church's inner life is growing and vibrant, the outpouring of that inner life (service, evangelism, generosity, etc.) will be forced or anemic. I've never seen authentic Christian benevolence or Christian evangelism or Christian generosity without an authentic spirituality firmly rooted in Christ. Why? The Holy Spirit's work is what births Christian compassion, generosity, and all the other fruit churches and believers long to see. Nothing else. From cover to cover, Scripture bears witness to the igniting power of God's Spirit to transform the hearts and lives of people.

Prayer, worship, study of the Scripture, Communion help us see the world with the God-lens. Coupled with the God-fire, it drives us to live the God-life characterized by compassion for the poor, burden for the lost, and zeal for the Kingdom.

To that end, NCCC is launching a new series this Sunday entitled, The Motions: Our Relentless Quest for God. It's been a while since I've been this amped up for a series. We're going to explore some of the spiritual disciplines that draw us closer to God and into the world.

Here's a question: In general, would the Kingdom benefit from the church focusing on it's inner life, outer life, or both? What about your congregation specifically?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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Share Your Thoughts

5 thoughts on “More than the Motions

  1. That’s just fine, Steven. Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll pass it on to D.J., our Youth Minister who worked with the staff and crafted the design. He’s a wizard 🙂

  2. I would say a little bit of all the above you mentioned Tim. A spiritually and physically healthy church will naturally grow. The church that grows spiritually and is equipped to be evangelistic is going to grow. Is that sorta kinda what your looking for?
    God bless the new preaching series at North County! Preach the word brother Tim. Grace and Peace.

  3. Would a baseball team benefit more from help in pitching or power hitting? It would depend on the team. Here it depends on the congregation. But the congregation is made of individuals. Rereading the Corinthian letters I discovered when I prayed I was looking for a power boost from the Holy Spirit. That’s not how it works. The power boost comes from other Christians. My inner focus needs to be for me to understand that I’M the answer to someone’s prayer today. I am hoping to make that my focus. It’s hard.

  4. i’m thinking the kingdom would benefit most from individual christians determining that they’d like to be obedient to God — and would begin studying their bibles, not to add knowledge, but to practice obedience.
    then the church could be what it’s supposed to be. they could focus on encouraging one another in Christ. christians would glorify God in their everyday lives, and others in the community would see their good works and also glorify God. ministry and service to others would happen, not because of programs, but rather christians being christians.