"Bear Down Church"

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…
In a recent Washington Post article, it was reported that local black bears in northern California are opening car doors to swipe food so often that they break into vehicles without smelling food just to see if they get lucky.  This is happening in record numbers and is a tremendous nuisance in that area of the state. (AJC, August 13, 2019)

Not to make light of the ‘nuisance factor’, I am quite impressed with these bears.  What impresses me is that they are not afraid to fail.  They have had enough experience with food being in automobiles that even if their noses do not detect food, they are willing to take a chance.

The church these days needs to have ‘bear like’ qualities.  I often see Churches (and Christians for that matter) who must have all senses active before they will attempt anything in order to feed (physically and spiritually…aka ‘be the church’) the hungry souls of their community.  There must be enough money; there must be enough people; there must be enough evidence for success before they will venture out ‘in faith’ on behalf of others.  We are afraid to fail.  We are afraid to risk and therefore we do very little for the Kingdom on behalf of the communities in which we are planted.

I’m not advocating we move in ridiculously absurd ways.  But I am advocating that we be churches of faith and people of faith.  I agree with the biblical author James, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  And quite frankly, many churches are dying on the vine because they are risk averse.  They expect things to always remain as they were or as they are. 

What is your church risking in faith that if God were not in it, it would be a miserable failure?  I propose that if you cannot quickly think of an illustrative answer to this question then that, in and of itself, is a diagnosis of ‘actively dying’.
I challenge you and I challenge myself to become like the black bears of northern California.  Even if we can’t see it, smell it, taste it, hear it or feel it, let’s be willing to give it a try.  There will be certain failure along the way.  But I’d rather die trying than die simply because I was afraid.

The great basketball coach at UCLA, John Wooden, often preached to his players, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”

Always Thinking…

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