A couple more thoughts:
Recognize that our destination isn’t Heaven, it’s Jesus – I think that for too long, I viewed my Christian life as one big mine field. That is, I needed to cross through the field (life) and avoid the mines (sins) so I could reach my destination (Heaven). After reading through the scriptures and with the help of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, I’ve quickly realized that the Christian life isn’t one of safety and avoidance, it’s one of courage and engagement.
My purpose isn’t to go to Heaven. I wasn’t created so that I could one day worship God for eternity. I was created to carry out my part of God’s mission here on earth. I was created to become like Jesus. If I truly believe that Jesus is my destination, that my life pursuit is to become like Him, I will change what I value, how I live and how I view other people. It will also change my evangelism. No longer am I trying to sell Heaven (a somewhat difficult task, frankly), I’m trying to communicate the life of Jesus and the benefits of living as He commanded.
If our churches started focusing on today rather than tomorrow, I believe we would have a much more profound effect on the world around us.
Recognize that the local congregation isn’t the sole embodiment of God’s kingdom – There are other entities than the local congregation that are carrying out God’s mission. Non-profit organizations, para-church ministries and even some for-profit business are doing their part to advance the kingdom of God.
Paul Hill, pastor of Wheatland Mission, had a blog post a couple of weeks ago titled, “God’s mission has a church.” He doesn’t remember where he heard that, so I’m going to attribute it to him until further notice. Anyway, that title (and the accompanying article) resonated with me. The church isn’t the be-all, end-all of God’s mission, it’s merely a part.
Perhaps, rather than plant more churches, we should plant a homeless shelter. Perhaps rather than start another congregation, we should open a coffee shop. It’s time to look past the traditional and start getting creative with how we can carry out God’s mission.
Reexamine how we define community – I fear that we have a fairly low view of community. Meeting with the same group of people for two to three hours a week doesn’t constitute community. Neither does lumping a group of people together based on age, sex or life-status (though, admittedly, community can spring forth from such settings). Community comes from time, shared experience, shared interests and purpose.
We should be spending time together with the local body, sharing experiences (both through service and fellowship), finding common interests and uniting through a common purpose.
I’m not sure what this would look like at a mega or even a 500+ church, so if you attend one of those, let me know.
Recognize that our calling as Christians is higher than worship – I might get into trouble for this one, but I fear that have mistaken our purpose. Ken Silva (who is by no means an expert on the way of church, but does provide an alternate view) said in a comment on another blog, “the mission of the Church is worship of God in Christ through the Spirit…Then from that His love flows through us and outward into missions.” I think that’s backwards. God doesn’t need our worship. He has legions of angels surrounding Him in worship. He has us to live out His kingdom here on earth. That’s what we should be doing.
Should we worship? Of course! It helps keep us grounded and focused on why we’re here and whom we’re here for. But focusing on worship before mission seems to contradict our commission as Jesus’ followers.
What do you think?