Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rethinking everything to emphasize our mission

In a recent speech, presidential John McCain spoke of the need to rethink how the US responds to the world. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080403/pl_nm/usa_politics_mccain_dc_20

"We must rethink, renew and rebuild the structure and mission of our military; the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies; the purposes of our alliances, the reach and scope of our diplomacy" against the threat, he says.

Any time I hear the word "mission," I of course think about the church. So what if we took McCain's statement, and changed it to apply to the church. It would read something like this:

"We must rethink, renew and rebuild the structure and mission of [the church]; the capabilities of our [leaders]; the purposes of our [relationships], the reach and scope of our [love and care]."

The church's mission must be what gets first priority. It must be constantly emphasized in sermons, classes, bulletins, announcements, small groups, personal conversations, print media, and the web. The church's structure must emphasize the mission, which leads to critical questions. How does the church spend its time? Do the church's weekly meetings and monthly calendar place a priority on mission--or are we just a worship and Bible study club that talks about mission but never finds time for it?

What about our leaders? Are they simply care-takers and managers? Or are they moving the church towards mission? Are they equipping people to serve God and others in their daily lives?

What about our relationships? Are our lives consumed with work, or are we building friendships with churched and non-churched people? To whom are we showing love and care--just our church friends, or the world? Jesus says even pagans love those who love them. We are called to be like Christ and love the world.

If we are serious about our mission, we must rethink everything.

What aspects of church and personal life do we need to re-think in order to prioritize our mission to reach the world? What is the toughest thing to change?

7 comments:

Ditaur said...
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Alison said...

One struggle I have always had is how to develop my own relationship with Christ. It seems like the church is always telling its members to pray, be "in the Word", etc. I realize those are all wonderful things. I'm just not sure the church does the best job of providing the tools and resources to help people learn how to develop these everyday discplines. Unfortunately, if people haven't developed their own true relationship with Christ, they won't be able to share it with others in the way He intended. People shouldn't use this as an excuse not to share, but I think all missional efforts will be most effective when the foundation is established within each individual. I would hope that the church would provide resources that help build the spiritual foundation and then those that help people share it.

James said...

Alison,

Many people have asked the question you are asking--how can I reach out when I am struggling in my own relationship with God. Here are a few thoughts.

First, none of us will ever be "ready" or fully "prepared" to reach out. We will always have things that we need to grow in. Jesus sent out his disciples to share the good news in Luke 10, even though they had all kinds of misunderstandings about servant leadership, the kingdom of God, and even Jesus' messiahship. But they shared what they knew. No matter how little we know, there is always someone above or below where we are on the spiritual path.

Second, engaging in mission can help us grow spiritiually. In fact, mission and discipleship go hand in hand. An outreach at Starbucks, in which a small group discusses spiritual topics, will achieve many things. It is mission oriented because of its location and its purpose of inviting non-Christians in and reaching out to those in the coffee shop. But as this happens, Christians grow closer to one another. They fellowship together. And they grow stronger in their faith.

As another example, take service outreach. By serving the community, we shine our light and touch people's lives. But their is a shaping that occurs from our serving others. We become more selfless. And we grow in our relationship with God.

Have you seen the Lord of the Rings or read the books? Hobbits, men, dwarves, and elves go off on a mission to destroy the one ring. But on that journey, they learn to depend on one another and they grow as people. They were shaped in a way that would not have been possible had they not engaged in their mission.

Mr. E said...

I like how you changed McCain's mission plan to that of the church. Sounds good!

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to leave this post because I dislike being negative and I realize it's just an issue of semantics. I had a knee-jerk reaction to "rebuild the...mission of the "church". My first thought was "the mission of the church is unchanging, seek and save the lost. I'm pretty sure I undestand the meaning as being "rethink and restructure our personal lives so that they align with God's mission for the church. Could you clarify?

James said...

Yes, the mission of the church should be unchanging, though this mission may express itself in different ways amongst different people groups and locales.

Rethink might be closer to the right idea than rebuilding, though we do need to realign (rebuild?) our ministries and focus to center around mission.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, and I totally agree.
BTW, I'm enjoying your blog.