As I wrote previously, I had to repent of despising my church over years of frustration. After spending time with the church leaders at their “leader’s roundtable” retreat yesterday, I feel a greater unity with them.
But we still have fundamental differences.
We went around the circle of eighteen people, and each person was asked to share their name, how long they’ve been part of the church, and their passion in the area of ministry. “Hi, I’m Jon. I’ve been part of The Journey now for three-and-a-half years. My passion is for missional living, that is, taking the gospel out to a post-Christian society like ours. And by post-Christian, I mean people who have been exposed to church but are turned off by it.”
One of the senior leaders responded, “Well, you’re in the right church.” Appreciative chuckles all around.
Getting people to come is not the goal!
But what I am talking about is quite different from what they are talking about. I talk about “taking the gospel out” while they talk about “welcoming people in.” The buzzwords for these two directions are missional (going out) and attractional (drawing in). Of all the churches we’ve been belonged to, our current church is by far the most attractional. The central focus is on the “Sunday morning experience.” Even outreach events are ultimately about getting people to come on Sundays.
To me, the focus of time, energy and money, the entire flow of motion, is all backwards. But in my excitement, I get all tongue-tied. …Here, maybe this two-minute video will help do a better job of explaining what I mean:
“What about all the people who aren’t like us, but who live around us? Why aren’t they here, too?” Or in my own words: What about all the people who are not interested in our church, and will not be interested no matter how cool we make it? Isn’t Jesus for them, too? Because frankly, these are the people who are my friends, neighbors and coworkers. If you build it, they won’t come. And frankly, getting people to come is not the goal! Or as Neil Cole says, “Don’t plant churches; plant the gospel.”
What about you: Have you thought about how to break the good news of Jesus out of church culture? Or, gentle reader, are you one of the people who would say (like the title of Dan Kimball‘s book), “I like Jesus but not the church”?