Here I sit, reading up on the missional work of the church, lamenting the lack of missional engagement, preaching that “attractional” just won’t work anymore and that we need to have our folks missionally engaged. And, truly, I believe it. I believe that the future of the church is going to look different than what we see around us now. I tell myself that while megachurches are appealing (even to me) that the church of the future will be much more neighborhood-centered.
The problem I run into is that I read all of this and think all of this and say all of this while remaining deeply immersed in the attractional model of the church. My missional engagement is much more limited than I care to admit and the time I spend on engaging those who already come through the doors is more than I care to admit. There’s that…and the fact that I’m part of a denomination whose language seems more focused on self-preservation than engagement; more focused on building more financially successful churches that will pay its bills.
And, for all my missional theology, there’s a part of me that believes all of this as well.
But if we are going to renovate this church of ours, I think it needs to be gutted of some of its preconceived notions of how success is defined. It needs not just a new veneer but a new mission. It needs to be changed.
And, frankly, this renovation needs to include me.
Says Addison Lacasse:
Before we renovate our ministries, we need to renovate our ministers – no, I’m not just talking about the church staff, I’m talking about the whole church. “You want to renovate me?” someone might retort. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a “I want to fix you because I know better” kind of situation. Ministers and leaders of Christian communities should desire to see themselves, their churches, and neighbours daily renewed in Christ, daily conformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Jesus wanted this (Jn 17:17), Paul wanted this (Gal 4:19), we would be unloving to not want this. Let’s get to work in equipping them for the work of ministry (Eph 4:12). It starts with their (and our) preconceived ideas of the work at hand.
So, what’s the work at hand? Is it paying the bills? Is it growing the church? Is it getting more “butts in the pews”? Or, perhaps, is it changing the world for Christ?
I need to keep checking myself to make sure it’s the latter.