How much of our vision for what God is doing in this world is shaped by a belief that God saves us in order to have an intimate relationship with him (personal piety) that flows over into fellowship with others, rather than Jesus' bigger kingdom vision of what God is doing in this world and that personal piety is designed by God to prompt us to work for that vision?
This is something I have been thinking a lot about as I've been reading Alan Roxburgh's book Introducing the Missional Church: What it is, Why it Matters, How to Become One, and as we have been preaching a series at church called Shift...
It seems to me that the church needs to shift in several ways.
- First we must recognize that we are not an ends in and of ourselves. Rather we are to be the means or methods to God's ends or purposes in the world.
- Second we must shift our model from information to transformation. Right now it seems the goal of Bible study is to gain as much knowledge as possible about the content of the Bible. (not that that's a bad thing) I would suggest that Bible study should be more about letting the text shape and mold us as we read about God's story and see how our story fits into it.
- Lastly, I think we need to shift from maintenance to mission. Where do we direct the majority of our resources in churches? Towards buildings and staff or towards mission? Where do we focus our energy and effort? Towards maintaining an ineffective structure focused on survival or structuring to launch people into the world as everyday missionaries? Are we more focused on adding names to the roles or making disciples for the transformation of the world?
God created the church. I don't think its going to disappear anytime soon. However I do think that ineffective and self-centered models of church will die away. Maybe its time to crucify those models, for out of crucifixion comes resurrection.