BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RICK PORTER
OKOBOJI BIBLE CONFERENCE MINISTRIES
There's a video floating around the churchy corners of the Internet where I hang out. In it, a quirky British bloke tells of sitting on an airplane next to a woman who inquired as to his profession. He treated her to a lengthy description of a global entity offering feeding programs, education at all levels, hospitals, street missions, and cradle-to-the grave care for all. The seatmate, amazed at the scope of the enterprise, couldn't help but ask its name. His response surprised. "It's called the Church!"
Recent headlines have been filled with reports of a decline in Christian participation in the United States. The real news might better be what people of faith, and in my particular reference, Christians, do for others every day. In spite of notable failures, the trajectory of the Church across the ages in all nations has been for the good of people and the glory of God.
Why don't we hear more about this? Two reasons come to mind. The first is the Church's own problem. We are scattered. That means that billions of small things done with great love are never seen as the massive unified effort that they are. Taken as whole they are a tsunami, but locally or individually, just a ripple.
Our unity is invisible. The invisible person of God, the Holy Spirit, is our glue and our mojo. Consider the retired missionary who remains in obscurity in her adopted homeland to care for AIDS orphans. Think of the businesswoman working with untarnished integrity in the marketplace and giving much of her income to others. These and innumerable other ripples are the unseen work of the Church, the body of Lord, unified and empowered by One Spirit.
The second reason is less obvious. Humility eschews visibility. We live in a torrent of media, non-stop advertising, celebrityism and shameless self-promotion. By contrast, Christ-followers are called to humility. Pride is said to be the deadliest of the deadly sins. Pride resists grace. Humility admits brokenness and cries for mercy.
At times, the Church has been proud, tooting her own horn. Certain corners of the Church (perhaps mine?) still come off this way. Humility plays second fiddle, if it plays at all. Even writing this feels conflicted. Humility avoids the newspaper. And yet, our own under-reporting leaves the work of the Church too easily overlooked.
The gathered Church from all streams has few chances to express unity with humility. When we gather in a large venue, our ripples unite in a wave. In our area, the Okoboji Bible Conference provides such, Aug. 1-9, nightly at 7:15 pm at 69 W. Broadway in Arnolds Park. All are welcome.
Sunday evening, Aug. 9, the Bible Conference will host "We're Called ... The Church," focused on the unity and empowerment of the Church in our region. There'll be worship, prayer, and stories of faith. The gathering may not make the news, but by the power of the Spirit, it will make a difference.