This morning I was struck directly in the heart as I listened to the truth behind the words I was reading in Erwin McManus' book 'An Unstoppable Force':
"Living within a Christian context, it becomes easy to divide according to theological distinctions. The difference between a Baptist and a Methodist actually used to matter to people. In many ways we seem to have had to much time on our hands. Just look at how many kinds of Baptists there are - Southern, Northern, Conservative, American, Swedish, Cooperative, Free-Will, and Seventh Day, just to name a few. While we were dividing among ourselves, we missed the growing divide that really mattered. We were losing the battle for the lives of people who were without Christ.
From within this context, the contemporary parachurch movement has emerged. When we are truly 'on mission,' nuances become secondary to the primary mission of the church. The parachurch created a missiological rather than a theological environment. If you believed that the Bible held the solutions for man's problems, knew that Jesus was the only hope for a lost and broken world, and were willing to do something about it, then you qualified to be on the team.
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 disconnection 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."
Erwin McManus - 'An Unstoppable Force'
Why is it that this message is so hard to communicate to a Canadian audience? So many people read these words and seem to react in one of two ways. Either they completely deny it accepting that being the church is a "responsibility" to maintain traditional view points. Or, they accept its truthfulness and respectfully do nothing about it!
I for one miss the church which existed to serve out a mission that was "worth dieing for". A mission which served to seek out the relationships which Christ has with all people and the desire to experience God's presence through all of his creation.
Last weeks conference talked about the power behind networking and the ways in which it applied to church communities. Bob illustrated the power to which we had if we spent more time uniting rather then claiming independence. Power which would not only serve existing congregants but equip them to reach out to the true missional purpose of the church and serve the communities and people around them! People who are without Christ!
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved."
"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common."