This is the overarching principle for all the shifts that I mentioned so far. It strikes at the basic purpose of the church. The Church represents Christ on earth through its community and desire for others to come to faith and to follow Christ.
So, how to you do that? What we did was to build an organization that became self-serving and we became the antithesis of our mandate!
Because we have this organization, we have to keep it going. Our mission to focus on others got switched to everything being about us, the insiders. You have to keep the sheep happy or they will stray. You have to teach them, even though they should be assuming responsibility for their own spiritual formation. You have to coddle them or they won’t feel loved and will leave. You have to inspire them, entertain them, teach their children, and provide a full slate of services or they will go somewhere else. We have to build nicer buildings, hire more staff, and raise the finances to support all of this.
What if we built the church around giving away everything we could? What if we gave away the ministry to volunteers? What if we gave away our building to be used as a community center? What if we gave away our expectations of our senior pastor to hold our hand, and instead, let him train people who have a vision of their own? What if we let him co-ordinate and facilitate this ministry of loving others in meaningful ways? What if we abandoned our desire to be served through an array of church ministries and instead joined in being a part of the great give-a-way? What if our strategic mission was to figure out to love the people around us in real, tangible ways and actually show them Jesus?
– An excerpt from my forthcoming book, An Irreligious Faith.