WESTERN WISDOM, Season 5, Episode 17, "Church As Outfit" audio podcast by award-winning western author Stephen Bly. Sponsored by BlyBooks.com Legacy Series. "What Kind of An Outfit You Running?" blog post article found here: https://www.blybooks.com/2023/05/an-outfit/
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CHURCH AS OUTFIT
A tall, lanky, slightly bowlegged cowboy stopped by to visit our church. After the service he introduced himself as being new to the community. “I jist thought I’d mosey up here and see what kind of outfit you were running,” he explained. I’d never heard of a church called an outfit before, but it does seem to fit.
Old West Term
In the Old West the word outfit meant all the people engaged in any one enterprise or living in any one establishment. For instance, a ranch and all the workers were called an outfit. Also, a trader’s fort and all those employed by him was an outfit. A party of people traveling together, as in a wagon party or cattle drive, were called outfits.
And it seems to me the church corresponds with just about all those definitions.
Like a Big Ranch
The church is filled with folks of varying sizes, shapes, and abilities all working for the same boss. Sometimes individually, other times together, we set about doing His work as He assigns to each of us. And we have a fierce partisanship for all the others who work for the same brand.
The Church as Trader’s Fort
Like a trader’s fort, the church is a place of security and spiritual protection where we can all gather and get the supplies that will carry us through the week ahead. At least every seven days, we stop by and receive what we need, making sure we spend some time checking up on the others.
And like the trader’s fort, the church has enough spiritual riches to supply the outsiders that come in need.
Like a Wagon Train
The church is a collection of people headed somewhere else. This is not our home, and we don’t intend on settling here long. We’re on our way to the Promised Land of glory. If an enemy attacks, we will all circle the wagons and fight off the intruder. But then, we’ll be throwing the whole string back on the trail and once again plod along.
Cattle Drive Type Journey
The church is not merely an expedition from one point to another. Like a cattle drive, it’s a working journey. There are tasks to accomplish along the way. We’ve got a whole herd of folks to feed and care for. Sick ones need doctoring and strays require rounding up.
The Cowboy’s Perspective
So, listen to the visiting cowboy. Maybe he was right. Perhaps the church should be called an outfit, providing we make sure everyone knows that the Bible makes it plain that the boss of this outfit is Christ Jesus Himself.
“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18).