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Working the Core

I hate exercise. I have been running now for almost 11 years. I like a good run. A few years ago, I joined a gym so I would not need to run outside in the winter. It was a good plan, except that I get enticed into using the rest of the gym. Bench press, leg lifts, curls... all of those are fine. What I hate is working on my core. Everything that I read and hear in the infomercials tell us-- our core is the most important part. The core is our midsection: your abs, back, and chest areas. If those are strong, the rest of what we do because easier. If these are in shape, we will have the right shape. Strength comes from your core.

The same can be said for the church. The strength of the church is in its Core. God has designed core purposes for the church that we cannot set aside. They are what keep the church in the right shape. They are what makes the church the church. Without these core practices, the rest of what we do is weak. Without these core purposes, we are not a church, just a collection of good people doing nice things.

I love the church. But it seems that there is a lot of variety out there in this country about what a church ought to be. In some churches, everything is about kids and children’s ministry. In other churches, it all about music and worship. For some churches, if the preaching isn’t good, then the church is flailing. In other places, it is outreach. If we are not evangelizing, we are not the church.

Over this spring and summer, our leadership teams have been studying together what is the Core of a church. In other words, what does it take to make a church that pleases God. Not, what are all the things we could do, but what are the things we must do, or we aren’t a church.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

You see, while I love worship music, the Bible doesn’t directly command us to sing in church. (It would be hard to picture the church without a worship set.) While I love children and teens, a church could still be a church and have only adults in it. (Its hard for me to imagine, but it could be true.) Some churches are not large enough to have preachers or pastors to deliver a sermon every week. (I know some of you would love that…)

As we studied through our CORE purposes, we came down to three that we believe that the church must do, or it is not the church. On Sunday, September 18th, we will take time to break these down and share how we will pursue these in the next few years. But without these 3 core purposes, we cannot use the word church on our sign. To be a church, it is a place where: 1. We Make God Known. Church must be a place where people know God and make Him known. He is publicly declared and privately sought. We cannot make known

someone we have not spent time getting to know. But knowing Him is the end of the process. Me must Make God Known.

2. We Develop Disciples. Jesus never once asked us to make anyone a Christian. He did command us to make disciples. Most people who think positively about God in our culture consider themselves a Christian. But that is not the same as a disciple. A

church is a place where disciples are made and developed. Lives are changing. We are changing.

3. We have A Strategic Go. Every church needs to know who God has called them to reach, and every Christ follower needs to know who God has called us to reach. We have been put here on purpose. Who is our purpose? Who are we reaching?

While I hate exercising my core, I love the way it helps me run, and lift, and improves my posture.

While I hate doing crunches, and leg lifts, it helps keep my body parts where they belong (and not hanging out where they don’t). When I focus on my core, the rest of my physical exercising seems to fall into place.

When we keep these things in order, the church becomes the church. When these things become our focus, the church gets stronger, and grows bigger. When we keep these in front of us, God uses our faithfulness as a witness to the world around us. When we work our core, other things get easier. When we are all developing as disciples, love between us is simpler – we are all trying to become like the same example. When we work our core, God reveals Himself to us. When we seek Him, we find Him. When we work on our core, God gives us greater purpose to the life we live. We begin to understand our calling in the community right around us.

I would ask you to begin to pray over these three areas. We are not done with them – we have only just begun. Don’t dread them. They are not like exercise. They are what we were designed to be and do.

Looking forward to this fall,

~ Andy

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