Jul 12, 2013

Why the Church Exists Part 1: Go!!!

GO!!! and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20)


What don't we get about "Go"?

That's the first part of the great commission. The church has somehow turned this complete backwards. 

The invitation of the church is "Come". 
  • Come to church with me. 
  • Come to our small group. 
  • Come to VBS.
The church is called to go to the people who don't know that God sent his Son to to die on the cross to pay the debt of sin so that those who believe would have eternal life. That's our calling. We are to go to where the people are. We are to be the good news in the very places where good news is so desperately needed. 

And yet instead of going, we keep staying and inviting folks to come.

Instead of being missionaries - ones who are living out the mission of Christ wherever they are - we ask non-Christian folk to be missionaries to church communities.

You see, missionaries go into areas where people don't know Jesus and learn to speak the language of the target people, learn the culture of the target people, and translate the gospel in a way that the target people can understand.

But when we invite people to church, we are asking those who do not know church language, understand Christian culture, to come into church adapting Christian practices in order to receive grace.

This is totally backwards.


You see, not only is this the opposite of what we have been called to do, but this is highly unproductive in a post-church, post-Christian world. 

When it was the norm for people to go to church, the "come to church" invitation worked. Even if people didn't go to church, there was a generation when people knew they should be at church. In fact, there was a day when people would have felt guilty being outside during church hours.

Those days are long gone.

In today's world, we have to recapture God's call for the church to "Go" to where the people are. 

A while back, I was talking with one of the pastors on staff at my church about our new members classes. I told him that at the end of the class what I wanted every member to commit to were the following: 
1. worshiping at one of the worship services
2. joining one of the small groups
3. giving and serving through our church

I felt pretty good about these things.

And then I got home and began thinking about what I just said. 

In effect, I told our associate pastor that we want our new members who are perfectly situated in life circles where they are surrounded by non-Christians in their work places, gyms, home, starbucks, pubs, etc. - the very places where we want the church to show up - and get our new members so busy with church stuff, doing church things, in church that they have no time for anything or anyone else. 

We were encouraging new members to abandon their mission fields!!!

Instead of equipping and encouraging our new members to be the best missionaries in their existing environments, the church I was creating, the church I had been a member of all my life, encourages people to desert the very place they should be missionaries in and insulate themselves with other Christians.

This is the perfect example of turning God's command for the church to "Go" and internalizing it by making it "Come." 

That's dumb!!!

We want our new members, heck, all our members, to "Go" and be church, be Christ's light, be hope, be an example out there. That's what it means to be church!


My job, the leader's jobs, is to equip and encourage our members to be the church 24/7, 7 days a week, out there.

We are to take the good news of Jesus Christ, and incarnate the good news of Jesus Christ in the multiple settings that the members of the church find themselves in. 

The church gathers to be fed, to be encouraged, to be reminded, to be briefed, and equipped for their main mission so that they can live out that mission out there.


We are praying and discerning how we can do church differently so that we see ourselves primarily as the home base to equip, train, empower, and brief the church for her mission so that our members can be church 24/7, 7 days a week out there.


What would the church look like if the church was organized to primarily to "Go" instead of "Come"?

That's the question we're doing our best to discern.


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