Matt Garvin, whose father founded the Christian youth and community organization Fusion International, posed a telling question to Palm Beach Atlantic University students this week: What words would the average person on the street use to describe the Christian church?
From the audience in the DeSantis Family Chapel came a few suggestions. Hypocrisy. Judgmental. Old-fashioned. Intolerant.
|Matt Garvin, son of Fusion International founder Mal Garvin, speaks in the DeSantis Family Chapel.|
In comparison, people in Albania, where the church’s presence is growing, likely would use words like hope, youth, vitality, excitement and community, said Garvin, who spoke to PBA students as part of Missions Emphasis Week in chapel.
A native of Australia, Garvin has traveled around the world and now serves as pastor of Community Life and Missions at St. Albert Alliance Church in Alberta, Canada. Joining him at PBA was Erion Dielli, founder and director of Fusion Albania.
“As I look around, the Christian church is beautiful. There are places we are absolutely magnificent. And (the city of) Korce in Albania is one of them,” Garvin said. “But there are also places we are terrible, where we are anything but Christlike.”
Garvin said that wherever he has seen true followers of Jesus, he saw six decisions at the hearts of those people. He writes about them in his book “Six Radical Decisions.”
First, those followers actually love Jesus the person, not Jesus the idea, he said. “Jesus was a person, and he wants to relate to you like a person and not like an idea.”
Secondly, as followers begin to love Jesus, they discover that He actually has a plan for their lives, Garvin said. Even so, individuals have a choice whether to chart their course according to that plan, he said.
Third, Christ followers need fellowship, Garvin said. He challenged audience members to write down the names of some people who know exactly what life is like for them. Many times, people can’t even name three, he said.
“For many of us, we suffer from a significant lack of fellowship and it’s getting worse,” he said.
Next, he noted that in places where the church is at its best, people are hospitable. “Real ministry is not done by programs. It’s done by getting to know people by inviting real people into your real life,” he said.
Fifth, he noted that wherever the church is at its best, “it’s not a bunch of superstars. It’s a bunch of people who are laying platforms for other people. They’re empowering others.”
Finally, the world hasn’t been changed by people with good ideas, he said. The world has been changed by people who are committed.
“This world is looking, I think actually is desperate, for people who are willing to live their faith with integrity,” Garvin said.
Dielli, who founded a youth troupe that stages plays and festivals in Albania as a means of outreach, also spoke to PBA students this week. He described how the youth initially met with resistance from the older people in the church.
Eventually, he said the group learned how to stop finger-pointing. “Our fight was not with them. Our job was to do what God has called us to do,” Dielli said.
Missions Emphasis Week began Monday. In addition to hearing guest speakers in chapel, students were invited to attend a concert, participate in dinner with a missionary and make their way through a special global-themed prayer labyrinth in the Weyenberg Center.