“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.” (Matthew 10:16-17)
In Matthew 10 Jesus spends most of a chapter describing to his disciples how difficult being sent to do Kingdom work is. He doesn’t sugar coat it much. According to Jesus following him will result in beatings and family betrayal. Jesus lays it all out, and then in essence says you will either follow me or you won’t.
For most American young people that grow up going to church, with Christian families and friends, the truth is, that in the end … they won’t. That’s a statistical fact by the way, not an editorial note. The statistical likelihood is that vast majority of the kids walking through our halls, in our Sunday school classrooms, coming to youth group, etc, etc. will leave their faith behind when they transition to adulthood, forever.
Creekside is not immune to this statistic.
The truth is that the American church, despite some pumped up numbers of mega-church growth, is in crisis. Specifically it’s in drastic decline in relationship to population growth. (For more on this see Dave Olsons book “The American Church in Crisis”.)
Creekside is the ideal place to change this. That is why I think we should make a habit of sending people. In order to send someone, they have to belong to you first. In order to be sent, you have to belong to someone else. Being the Church is about belonging, it’s about being the people who belong to Jesus. Jesus’ essential questions for His disciples in Mathew 10 is the same essential question that he lays in front of our students, and in front of us, essentially: “Will you follow me?”
No, not just when its convenient… all the time, when it requires your whole allegiance, when it requires you to set yourself apart from society and family and relationship, when it costs you everything, when you have to take up a cross in order to do it.. “Will you follow me then?”
In this passage Jesus doesn’t every really ask the disciples the question straightforward, he assumes they are already in “yes” column. What he does do is lay out the consequences for and against followership in advance. If yes, then this… if no, then this. Read the chapter and decide for yourself.
Will you belong to Jesus? Will you be sent? Will we as a church be a people who send in Jesus name? Or will we resign ourselves to the easy road of just letting people come and go as they choose… and thus never really know what it means to belong.