Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Missional Church Part 2: What Must Change

This is part two of the series.  Make sure you read part one first, or else you may find yourself lost.  Also, remember, part 3-5 are coming, so don't lose hope after this somewhat depressing post.  The fire purifies and makes us stronger.

What Must Change
The earlier description of Church and Mission may seem foreign to most Christians. If you asked most people what their congregations mission was they probably wouldn’t quote Luke 4:18-19. They might say something like, “to be God’s community front porch” or “to serve God through word and witness.”  (Yes I actually got these off of a few church websites) While these may sound good on the surface level, they are not what Jesus set out to do. The issue here is not bad mission statements. This is just a reflection of many things that have gone wrong in the Church since the Emperor Constantine institutionalized the Church in an attempt to steal control away from Jesus and have it for himself. There are many issues we could discuss here, but for the purpose of this blog I will focus on three.

First, institutional churches are led by a few individuals. The model of leadership for these churches is a top down structure where a few individuals (or in some cases one person) makes decisions that effect the entire direction of the whole community. The members job then is to trust that the leader(s) is(are) working under the guidance of God or some special knowledge that they obtained during seminary and to just go with whatever they decide. This is more like a business model than a Scriptural model. When Paul wrote, “[Jesus] is the head of the body the church... in everything He has the supremacy” he truly meant that Christ has the complete supremacy. This means that your pastor, priest, bishop or Pope are simply members of Christ’s body and should be looked at as no different from any of your other brothers and sisters in Christ, because “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession."

Secondly, institutional churches are centered around a weekly gathering. This is also not a Biblical model for Christian churches. There clearly was a weekly gathering for the churches as described in the New Testament, but they were also clearly not centered around this weekly event. They were together in each others homes daily. They shared everything in common. They lived life as a family with each other. This is the vision God had for His Church from the beginning, because it is who the Triune God is in His very nature. God is community. As God’s people, we are called to live deeper into the lives of each other, not to simply show up for singing and a lecture once a week. If all church is, is a weekly gathering, the pressure is on. You better make it one hell of a gathering (pun intended). And this is exactly what Churches are doing. Highly trained, educated, and skilled people put 100+ man hours per week into preparing for an hour to two hour gathering to make it a top notch experience each week. Jesus did not come to earth and sacrifice Himself to a torturous death to get His people to put on a good show once a week.

Finally, most churches are so focused on their own growth as a congregation, that they show little or no concern for the Kingdom of God. Let me give a few points to support this bold statement. The average church plant costs $200,000-300,000 in the first 2 years. The average mega-church has a yearly budget of $5 million. And the average mega-church pastor is paid an annual salary of $147,000. It is no wonder that these churches are so focused on their own growth as opposed to Kingdom growth. They have a lot of bills to pay! And the pastor is highly rewarded for His success in growing His audience. This is why you drive around a town like Abilene and see a church on every street corner. Statistics show that 80% of church growth is transfer growth, not converts. This is because most institutional churches only care about growing their own congregation, not about growing the Kingdom.