Daring to Become the Parachurch God Had in Mind?

I was doing some studying for a sermon and remembered reading Erwin McManus’ book An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind. Man, this stuff is still really, really good.

Check it out:

In many ways the emergence of the parachurch reflects the paralysis within the local church. When we stopped calling youth to the mission of Christ, Youth With A Mission emerged. When we ignored the opportunity to reach university students, Campus Crusade emerged. When we settled for church attendance and neglected discipleship, Navigators emerged. When we hesitated to call men to the role of spiritual leadership, Promise Keepers emerged. Yet while the parachurch was rallying and mobilizing men and women whose hearts were longing to serve Christ, it was at the same time accelerating the spiritual anemia and decline of the local church. The church became a fortress from the world rather than the hope of the world. This disconnnection from our present context exemplifies the need for holistic ministry. Seekers are looking for spiritual integration. This means that we must provide community with cause and meaning with healing. Having one without the other only leaves us fragmented. We must transform the fragments into a mosaic.

Where has the church gone wrong? When did we begin outsourcing mission to other agencies when only the Church can ever truly be the hope for the world? How can we once again become the church that God had in mind?

God’s Vision and Mission for the Living Church

From The Living Church: Convictions of A Lifelong Pastor by John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011):

The Mission of the Church

We believe that the church has a double identity. On the one hand we are called out of the world to belong to God, and on the other we are sent back into the world to witness and to serve. Moreover, the mission of the church is modeled on the mission of Christ. He himself said so. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). His mission meant for him the incarnation. He did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven. Instead, he emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He actually entered our world. He took our nature, lived our life, and died our death. He could not have identified with us more closely than he did. It was total identifacation, though without any loss of identity, for he became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God.

And now he calls us to enter other people’s worlds, as he entered ours. All authentic mission is incarnational mission. We are called to enter other people’s social and cultural realit: into their thought-world, struggling to understand their misunderstandings of the gospel, and into the pain of their alienation, weeping with those who weep. And all this without compromising our Christian beliefs, values and standards.

A Lack of Multiplication (of Disciples, Small Groups, and Churches) Leads to Division

Most American churches are doing lots of addition, subtraction and division. Few are doing multiplication.

+ It’s easy to settle for addition. At least it is positive growth. Addition is safe. Addition is comfortable. But addition is often the result of a lack of mission and vision. Church leaders get bogged down in caring for the urgent and the existing members are happy because the attention is all on them. Sometimes people move into the area and just naturally look for a church. Put out a sign and we can probably grow through addition.

However, addition is just a step away from subtraction. People start to withdraw from the church when the church has no purpose. I bet more people leave the church out of boredom than from being asked to step up and pursue the Great Commission.

Top Three Posts (so far) on the Mission of the Church

Here are a few posts from the archives focusing on the mission of the local church that I want to highlight. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, please read and add your thoughts to the conversation.

 

The Mission of the Church

The mission of the local church, then, is to make disciples of all nations.

I don’t think we can improve on that “mission statement” from Scripture. This is the purpose of every local church body and pursuing this mission together brings glory to God. To reject this mission and pursue another is to actively disobey our Lord Jesus.

Pursuing Jesus’ Mission With Jesus’ Means

Somehow I don’t think that Easter eggs or Oprah-like bribery is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He told us to make disciples of all nations. Jesus has given the church a specific mission and He has also given us the means to pursue that mission.

In order for the local church to bring glory to God and be obedient to Jesus’ commands we must use Jesus’ means to pursue Jesus’ mission.

Would Jesus Do Multi-Site?

Is it possible, as MacDonald suggests that the video venue is less about the celebrity speaker than a one campus venue is about the live pastor? Are Driscoll and MacDonald suggesting that Dever’s congregants are more consumeristic than the congregants of their multi-site campuses? That’s unsubstantiated and slightly offensive, isn’t it?

 

Pursuing Jesus’ Mission with Jesus’ Means

Every year (especially around Easter) I hear of another church doing something crazy to get people in the door of their building:

egg drop

◊ One church gave away a car.

◊ One church surprised random attenders with a shopping spree.

◊ One church dropped Easter eggs on top of people’s heads from a helicopter.

Somehow I don’t think that Easter eggs or Oprah-like bribery is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He told us to make disciples of all nations. Jesus has given the church a specific mission and He has also given us the means to pursue that mission.

In order for the local church to bring glory to God and be obedient to Jesus’ commands we must use Jesus’ means to pursue Jesus’ mission.

The Spirit of God

Jesus told His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit as a Helper. Just before He ascends into heaven, Jesus says to His followers, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Because the Spirit of God indwells us, the local church has received supernatural power, spiritual gifts, encouragement, guidance, wisdom, comfort, and strength. These are all gifts that do not come from human abilities, innovation, or training (though by God’s grace He has given us those things too). In other words, anyone can have leadership skills or marketing skills but only the church has the Spirit of God dwelling among them and empowering them to pursue the mission.