Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Church vs. Mission

I ’ve mentioned a few times that churches need to be more “missional” and that raises the question, “what is the difference between a church and a mission?"

That’s a great question because it comes down to a fundamental and necessary ingredient of ministry (which includes both a church and a mission) and that ingredient is sustainable revenue.

The fuel for ministry is revenue and every ministry is funded in one of three ways: donations, fees-for-service, and a combination of the two. Examples are obvious. Your local church receives donations, often called tithes and offerings. Your neighborhood nonprofit daycare charges tuition and fees. Finally, the local college does both.

The local church is to be self-funding. This is a Biblical model and it’s not only part of our responsibility (1 Cor 16:2) as believers but a part of our worship and an integral part of Kingdom growth. In a church, the recipients of the ministry provide the funding for the ministry. A Mission, on the other hand, is not self-funding, and the funds are usually provided, at least in part by another source. The recipients of the ministry of a mission (an inner-city mission to the homeless, for example) do not provide 100% of the funding for their ministry.

Often, new churches, whether they are independent church plants, a part of a denomination or a satellite campus, will need some funding assistance the first few years. Ultimately, however, it will be incumbent for the local church to become financially self-sustaining and more so that it can contribute to other ministry and mission opportunities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don’t Abandon Our Cities

Have you been to the city lately? Our urban population centers are suffering. Poverty, crime, delinquency, drugs, and illegitimacy are just some of the raging issues of our urban areas. Like the remaining Ford and GM dealerships, our churches have abandoned the urban areas and moved to the wealthier and safer confines of the suburb.

The US isn’t just comprised of red and blue states but also a heavy, conservative and spiritual concentration in the Midwest and the South and particularly in the rural and suburban areas. Even in the North and the West, the church flourishes in the suburban communities outside of Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.

If we lose the urban areas, we lose period. Our cities of Washington DC, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, are the “cultural forming wombs” of the society to quote Pastor Tim Keller of New York’s, Redeemer Church. We need to remember that even if we aren’t “of the world” we are certainly to be “in it”.

Our desire for comfort and for safety has led our exodus from the cities to the suburbs. Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to go and seek safety and comfort and maybe while we are on that journey, build gleaming churches that mimic the suburban sprawl.

Our cities need redemption. The urban dwellers need redemption. We have the answer to the urban problems of poverty, crime, delinquency, drugs, and illegitimacy. Remember that our finest educational institutions that are training tomorrow's leaders are usually in urban areas as well or at least embrace the urban culture.

Take the chance pastor; reach out to the urban poor, the disenfranchised, the uninformed and the lost. The greatest opportunity we have today is to take the great commission seriously and that is to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to our present day Jerusalems.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Problem with Discipleship

At the end of His time on earth, Jesus gave us a command that is often called the “Great Commission” which was, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Since that time, the church has done a relatively poor job on discipleship. The early church, soon after the baton was passed from the Apostles, created two classes of people: clergy and laity. This was equivalent to having the “haves and have-nots”. One group, the clergy, was considered spiritual and the holder of the knowledge of the kingdom and all others were considered to be subservient and not to be trusted with the true knowledge.

While the Reformation of the 16th Century did much to encourage a “Priesthood of all believers”, the process of making disciples is still more hit and miss. While many programs are available to churches and believers, in most of our churches, true Christian discipleship continues to be more of a lofty goal than a practical outcome.

I’ve been taught that there are three essential elements to discipleship: Faith (the forgiveness of sin through the completed work of a Savior), Fellowship (the demonstration of love and acceptance), and Foundations (understanding the foundational truth of the gospel including sin, salvation, grace, mercy and redemption).

Recently, I’ve come to understand that the new discipleship model that is necessary is one that embraces the three components of previous programs Faith, Fellowship, & Foundations but it goes beyond programs as discipleship is not about programs but about people.

The new discipleship model takes the mission of the church and places it squarely on the shoulders of those that are being discipled. This missional model understands that just beyond the property marker of the church begins the mission field.

Having a discipleship model that includes being Missional means that we are involving and requiring participation as a means of becoming a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. One of the cornerstone verses of the Missional model for discipleship is Matthew 25 where Jesus said,

Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

The Real Virus Is Fear

There is a virus that is attacking and ravaging this country but it is not Covid-19.   It is fear.  This fear is being spread by people ...