Thinking About Church and Mission

I’ve been reflecting a lot on church and mission, particularly the local church since I serve as a minister with a local church. Any ways, here’s a few thoughts that keep passing through my mind

  • The local church must be different than just another local social-club with a little bit of religious ceremony sprinkled in on Sunday’s. Fellowship and charitable deeds are good but the church is called to more.
  • The church is called to live as a faithful witness, as truth-tellers, preaching and embodying the gospel to it’s community, which is something that the local Rotary Club cannot do.
  • However, the church must be healthy. Just as unhealthy people only spread unhealthy germs, so also does an unhealthy church. So is the local church healthy? The answer to that question must shape what we do next as pastors.
  • According to minister Trey Morgan, the last eight words of a dying church are, “But we’ve never done it that way before” (read more about that here). Sadly, I think he’s right.
  • Actually sometimes it seems that what some of these churches are thinking is, “But we really don’t like it that way.” And so the mission of God is trumped again by personal preference. Sad indeed. Even more sad must be God. Did he really give his Son up in death for this?
  • For any church to move forward it cannot sew a new patch on an old garment and pour new wine into old wineskins. Jesus told us that it will not work (cf Mk. 2:21-22), so why should this even be an issue? But it will because change is difficult.
  • This is the tough part about ministry. So one question that keeps coming to mind is, “how much is my pain tolerance?”

What thoughts do you have?

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12 responses to “Thinking About Church and Mission

  1. One older book that speaks to this Resident Aliens by Willimon and Hauerwas. The church needs to be the church, which, imo, means reprioritizing a whole lot of things. I fear that many churches in our fellowship have made an idol out of “Bible study” and gathering for that purpose. We do not know what the mission really is.

    To be the church, we need to see our worship gatherings also as equipping times that ready us for the mission. Teaching should focus on the kingdom of God and God’s purpose in mission. People should be challenged to change their perspective from seeing “church” as something to do or add on to the rest of their lives to seeing “church” as something they *are*.

    Just a few thoughts. Great post!

  2. The “church” are those who are saved. We assemble to worship God in spirit and in truth. To be encouraged and built up. Our mission is to seek and save the lost. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has the power to save. It is God’s word that needs to be implanted in men’s hearts. We are to feed upon it and grow. Gimmicks will never work, only preaching the truth will work. The only thing that needs to change is us. In scripture “growth” is usually personal growth. Maturing on our part will make the difference. Preach the word, be ready in season and out. God provides the increase.

    • The change I am speaking about is us needing to change. The gospel must be faithfully preached and embodied as a church but it must always be done so in a contextualized ways, while not allowing our traditions to trump our contextualized participation in the mission of God.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

    • I disagree. “Growth” often has communal dimensions in the Bible as well, especially when you consider that salvation is to a “body” (of Christ). Changes that better reflect this are needed to move away from the individualism of many that leads to the consumeristic attitude tearing churches apart.

      • Amen to what Jeremy says!

      • I’m not sure what your saying. Salvation is personal, it begins with the individual. The individual, by dying to self and obeying the gospel is sanctified, set apart by God and added to the church. It then becomes communal. We need each other, we build each other up by living holy and righteous lives. We preach Christ and Him crucified, not ourselves. What is tearing churches apart is when we refuse to submit to the authority of Christ. The consumer attitude in my mind is when we on our own, decide to change the Lord’s church. When we seek to satisfy the wants of the masses. What the masses need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They most often reject that message, but that’s what we are selling. When they reject the message, they are rejecting the idea of submitting to Christ and His ways. All we have to offer is hope, there is hope in Christ Jesus. We need to search for “good soil” and plant the word.

      • I agree with much of what you’re saying except for the part of salvation beginning with the individual. While God saves individuals, salvation is communal and begins with community rather than individuality. First, in creation our Triune God creates the first man and woman with the intent of them multiplying. So creation itself is a communal act of God who eternally exists in community (Father, Son, and Spirit). Then there is redemption with the promise made to Abraham that all nations will be blessed through him which begins unfolding with the election of Israel. So redemptive election is a community rather than individuals, out of which comes the Messiah to establish his church, who are the elect in Christ. So while the elect in Christ is always made up of individuals, the goal of redemption is and continues to be community.

        I hope that helps.

        Thanks again for you comment and dialogue.

        Grace and Peace,

        Rex

  3. Re the Rotary Club comparison: Without simply spiritualizing the role of the church, I would specify life transformation as a goal of God’s church.

    The call to follow Christ is a call to change who we are. Not just to have our sins forgiven, or to start loving the poor, but to actually change into the image of Christ. Top that Rotary Club!!! 🙂

    • Amen and amen!!!

      Jesus Christ is our Savior but he is also our Lord who calls us follow him and embody his way of life. There is not any salvation apart from following Jesus Christ as our Lord.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  4. What is the one thing we (The Church) have, that no one else has? We have God’s Story. Everything else we might do, whether it be charity, social gathering, or otherwise, someone else out there can do it better. We are not the most charitable, we are not the best social club, etc. But the one thing we do have a monopoly on, is the story of God. That is what we need to be offering, because this is the only place to get it.

    Scott McKnight had a great message on this at NCYM this last year. I wish I could find it online somewhere.

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