Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Missional Church

Every church must determine what kind of church it wants to be. Many American churches have, over time, become attraction-oriented. They attempt to develop programs and activities—sermons, music, youth and children's ministries, senior adult ministries, etc.—attractive enough that people will come. This approach has trained Christians to sit instead of serve; to observe instead of participate; to watch instead of act.

In an attraction-oriented church, members expect their pastors to do the work of the ministry, even in the face of explicit biblical injunctions that say just the opposite: that ministry is accomplished by the people (cf. Eph. 4:11-12). The further this expectation sets in their hearts, the more apathy develops. Why? Because apathy is a by-product of inaction.

There exists a more biblical and effective kind of church: missional. For an attraction-oriented church to become missional, the pastors must help believers change the way they think. Thought processes are changed by changing actions. (You probably already knew that thoughts influence behavior, but God also designed us so that our behavior influences the way we think.)

Instead of sitting in pews hoping that perhaps someone in the community will show up, the church can follow Andrew's example and take Jesus to them (cf. John 1:40-41). The church can follow Matthew's example and throw a party, with Jesus as the honored guest (cf. Luke 5:27-29). The church can finally obey Jesus, who says to "Go" (Matt. 28:19).

Essentially, we must answer this question: Where would Jesus be? Would Jesus keep His ministry relegated to the church building or be in the community? Where was the focus of His life and ministry? Even a cursory reading of the New Testament demonstrates that while Jesus indeed ministered in the Temple and in synagogues, He spent a large amount of time in the community. If we want to be the church God wants us to be, we cannot escape the conclusion that we must be on mission with Him to seek and to save that which is lost.

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