Ever feel like Elmer Fudd waving the white flag of surrender to Bugs Bunny in a Looney Tunes cartoon? Some people think that’s the inevitable future of the organized Church in the face of the wiley, contentious culture we’re called to be immanent in. Not me. In Elmer Fudd speak, there’s no “capituwation” here.
We’ve got a great story to tell at Blanchard—one of a remarkable God with and empowering ordinary people like you and me for His great purposes. As Annette Simmons in her “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins“ puts it:
People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith—faith in you…in the story you tell.
I preached a sermon on Miriam this summer at Blanchard’s two campuses. I’m inspired by her first reaction after God led His people to victory over Egypt at the shores of the Red Sea–she grabbed her tambourine and led the women of Israel to direct their attention to immediately recognize God’s extraordinary power that delivered them.
But the truth is, sometimes it feels like we haven’t had a lot of Red Sea moments to celebrate at Blanchard Warrenville lately. Don’t get me wrong, though: the bold step of faith our leaders and launch families took to buy that old landscaping business on Butterfield Road and the thousands of volunteer hours both our campuses volunteered to rehab an office and garage into a functioning church building strikes me as a remarkable Red Sea moment. Yes, we’ve faced down some unique challenges in Warrenville. So, by God’s grace, how can we, together as leaders and God’s people at Blanchard Alliance Church, find effective solutions both quickly and efficiently?
In faith-stretching times like these, we must remind ourselves that the Church, from its inception, was meant to grow—but not just through the lens of quantity and numbers; but, even more importantly, through the privilege of growing the quality of our discipleship of one another as devoted followers of Jesus. It’s hard to hear, but growing for the greater common good of God’s Kingdom often requires painful sacrifice–like launching a second campus in Warrenville. (Or trusting God to provide thousands of dollars to repair our Wheaton parking lot and retention pond in Warrenville).
And, honestly, one of the greatest resources we have at Blanchard Alliance Church continues to be our amazing, gifted people. As I remember you, I’m regularly inspired by the beautiful people–my brothers and sisters–who belong to my church family in both Wheaton and Warrenville–you’re the best part of my job as Campus Pastor in Warrenville. Sure, we’re imperfect and “warty”, but what family doesn’t have its share of problems? You’re my family, you understand? I’ll choose to forbear and hang in there.
Keeping in mind both our past and our future, I recognize Elmer Fudd rearing his bald head in the pit of my soul. When things get hard, when Bugs Bunny looks like he’s getting the best of me again, I’ve been challenged of late to consider the value of fidelity and forbearance in my own life. In fact, that’s one of Elmer’s most endearing qualities: he never quits hunting down that “wascally wabbit”. Unfortunately, this is where my analogy for this post starts to break down.
In Looney Tunes World, Bugs always gets the best of Elmer. Our culture will never get the best of the Church. No “capituwation” [capitulation]. No “suwendow” [surrender].
I continue to believe that we, as everyday devoted followers of Jesus “living as sent ones” in our vocations as teachers, students, craftsman, lawyers, moms, dads and neighbors, with God empowering us and with us, we’ll persist and never be beaten. Calvin Coolidge once wisely noted,
Nothing will take the place of persistence; talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.
We can indeed devote our lives to God’s inspiring vision of transformation and restoration. In the face of discouragement, I persist upon my core convictions: that my Creator God rules, that Jesus is the only way to be saved, that the people of God (the Church), empowered by the Holy Spirit remain his beautiful instrument for restoration of the common good.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)