I recently read an article which took aim at churches that pursue the value of excellence. The writer suggested church should be a messy environment reflecting the reality of a messed up world. Excellence, it was asserted, alienates people rather than connecting with them.
Well, who could disagree with the importance of loving & reaching people where they’re at? But abandoning excellence is not the answer. Of course God accepts us as we are…but He loves us far too much to leave us that way.
I was born in west Belfast during the height of the Northern Irish troubles. I grew up in one of the most deprived areas in all of Europe. But what I observed during that time of conflict was the aspiration of a working class generation who dared to dream. They searched for something better than what they’d known up to then, resisting the patronising overtones of their middle class superiors which suggested they should “get used to the mess cos this is your lot”. So many of my peers sought to pursue a more excellent way because they longed to rise higher and go further in life. They had the audacity to believe for more..and so looked beyond the doldrums of despair toward a brighter future.
The point is…God never designed HIS church to pander to mediocrity, but rather to shine as a beacon of light in the fog of unbelief. As Paul says in 1 Cor 12:31, love offers ‘the most excellent way‘. We do a gross disservice to our towns and cities when we ever lower the bar and try to keep people where they are. That’s exactly what mediocrity does.
Excellence is a state of heart. It’s about doing the very best you can with what you have. It’s not about money. Nor is it about facilities and resource. It’s ALL about having a passion to help people reach their God given potential. A culture of excellence reflects the heart of a community which loves our world and wants to help others rise higher. We’ve seen this happen at the Junction Church over the past few years…where people have been so impacted by the culture that they’ve taken it into their families, schools, universities, work places & peer groups. Surely it’s this kind of gritty, everyday stuff that changes the world? Some call it ‘bringing the Kingdom’. We just call it ‘doing life well.’
If anywhere in the world ought to reflect excellence, it’s Church. It should never be thrown together in a shoddy, messy, untidy way. What inspiration is there in this? That’s why one of our values at the Junction Church is excellence…and we make no apology for it. It brings God glory when we create an environment that loves people, lifts their vision and helps them rise to greatness. That’s why excellence matters.
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