Monday, September 24, 2007

New Reformation: Releasing God's People

This chapter could be summed up in the following sentence: The new Reformation is about freeing God's people from the church (the institution).

So, what does the new reformation do ? It can be charachterized by a few of the following:

- church members no longer willing to allow clergy to script their spiritual journey
- moving the church closer to the world ( not home )
- distinquishes followers of Jesus from religious people
- it is about mission ( not church )
- drawing energy from the information revolution
- they help followers of Jesus live abundant and missional lives

The Wrong Question

How do we turn members into ministers ?

Alright, it is time for honestly. When I read this as the wrong question, it was like a punch in the stomache. This is (was) the question that I have been asking for years. I remember seeing this question all through my seminary career. My degree was in Practical Ministry with an empasis in Church Growth & Evangelism. I even had a class called Every Member a Minister.

As Reggie states: I cringe every time I hear that phrase, I do the same now. It may not seem like a bad thing but what usually occurs and what happens is that we are recruiting church members to get church work done.

Now don't get me wrong, I think church work needs to get done. HOWEVER, I believe that we need to think out side of ourselves and too often, we focus on the local church.

We have become pretty efficient in recruiting leaders for ministries. We give spiritual gift inventories, talk to them about their passion and then place them into ministry that matches their gifts and passions. But, we do this to fill church jobs. What would happen if we did this for "jobs" outside of the church ?

Reggie makes a statement that has me chewing and chewing and trying to digest it. Here is his statement: They (clergy) view the recruitment difficulties they are experiencing as a motivational issue rather than understanding the significant shift in how people are making decisions about how they will spend their lives.

I believe that there are many individuals out there that are looking for authentic relationships and they are wanting to live a missional life. HOWEVER, they realize that 'church work" will take up time, burn them out and cause them not to live out of their passion and love. We also fail when we think their gifts can only be used by God through Church Jobs. One final statement from Reggie that hits hard at home before we move to the tough question:

Laypeople see the disconnect in the every member in ministry strategy. They are voting by not lending their time, energy, and money to ministry vision that has the church as the primary beneficiary or recipient. Church has become increasingly irrelevant to their workday and home lives. Church ministry to them is an add-on activity to an already crowded life. They wonder why God can't use them where he has already embedded them - in their homes, workplaces, schools and community.

This is one area where I am treadding water and trying to walk the line.

Tough Question:

How do we turn members into missionaries?

We as a church need to see how we can deploy more missionaries into the community. This can be challenging for us because if we do this - there may be fewer people at the church and fewer programs that can be supported because people are out in the community transforming it.

We, Christians, love to live in the sub-culture that we have created. This also goes for church. We love surrounding ourself into church. It is safer there. Also, when we live in our church-bubble, it causes us to think about our church and not the kingdom at large and definitely not about our community.

NEWSFLASH: People are busy and are out there. Let's captalize on them being out there instead of us drawing them away from their influences and putting them in a building.

We as churches really need to have MISSION as the backdrop of everything that we do. This can be difficult for churches especially when we enter dialogue about being culturally relevant. We need to connect with the culture. Reggie says: you can not be faithful to the Great Commission without being relevant.

The greatest problem that I see is the unwillingness of those who attend church to connect with individuals who are outside of the church. I am not sure what we are afraid of ... maybe that they will "rub off on us" - I don't know. However, what happens is that we become more concerned about our club ( religious culture )than Jesus or the mission that He has set us out to do.

I am not sure where it exactly occurred, but we have become an "add-on". People think of the church has an add-on. We go to work, we go to play, we are involved in extra-curricular activities and we add on church when we have time. We have got to change this. We need to have Christ as part of our life - no matter where we are - do not segment your life out.

I am going to end on a quote from the book and will use another segment of the chapter as a different post since this post is becoming long. Here it is: The problem is that when people come to church, expecting to find God, they often encounter a religious club holding a meeting where God is conspicuously absent.

1 comment:

travis said...

I am always concerned if I am involved in a club or a place of worship. I am not sure God has a membership for the clubhouse. He might know the secret hand shake either! ;-)