This is part of a series of blogs about helping churches refocus on mission.
Breaking the mold
To fully engage in God's mission, we need to be ready to leave the church-ghetto mindset behind us. But how can we get out of this ghetto mentality? From about 1500AD some heavyweight champions began to bust believers out of the ghetto:
Martin Luther said: The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field, or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith (attitude) alone.
William Wilberforce MP said: My walk is a public one. My business is in the world; and I must mix in the assemblies of men, not quit the post which God seems to have assigned me. (Journal of 1788)
And more recently Mr George McCloud takes the cake saying: I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the centre of the market place, as well as on the steeple of the church. I’m recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a Cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on a town garbage heap at a crossroads of politics so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek. And the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died and that is what He died about. And that is where Christ’s people ought to be and what church people ought to be about.
At the risk of sounding like the makers of Star Wars, here is how to bust the ghetto…
Does mission shape church life?
The Great Commission from Jesus was actually not to plant churches, nor build healthy churches, but rather to go into the world and make converts and disciples (Mt 28v18-20). But as the early apostles did this, the inevitable result was the establishment of local churches. But here’s the thing: the mission shaped local church life, not the other way around.
Tragically, as the centuries rolled by, the roles have been reversed and the priority has become ‘doing church’ rather than ‘doing mission’. Monotony of ‘doing church’ nullifies creative mission. The result is churches that are pastoral-driven (prioritizing caring for each other and creating a beautiful church culture) rather than mission-driven (prioritizing reaching the unchurched). We must be committed to allowing missiology to shape our ecclesiology, and not the other way around. This affects the whole tone of church life – the language we use, the things that we emphasize, the way that we package sermon series, and our willingness to expand and plant more churches.