Friday, May 18, 2007

Mission Confusion

I've been reading the latest post on John Turner's blog about whether our churches are more inclined towards ministry or mission. John makes a very important observation in that churches that tend to be more ministry-focused, tend to get bogged down in placing more of its resources and time into their ministries and inward focus. While more mission-focused churches use ministry to make their mission more effective. Thus their resources are allocated towards achieving the mission, with ministry as the means.

The commentary is interesting. Some interpret his statement as creating a false dichotomy between ministry and mission. Granted, the title of his post gives this impression (Ministry vs Mission), but he simply is questioning whether we are confusing our ends with our means.

Some interpret his post as a polemic against too much ministry. They say that if anything is needed, the church isn't loving enough. We need to do more service, not less. And filling our churches should never be our goal. We need to serve people. And people come to Christ that way anyway. But again, that is not what John is getting at. He believes that the emphasis isn't in our ministry efforts, but our goals for ministry. Are we paying attention to why we do what we do? Did Jesus really want us to focus on ministry, or to minister with our focus on what he wants?

This brings up my concern for the modern body of Christ. It is amazing to me to witness in my lifetime a confusion about mission. Yes, loving people through ministry is important, but it has become more important than why Jesus came.

If we do not get beyond helping to save lives, we are no different than any other non-profit organization. We meet needs and love people, with the hope that they will "accept" Jesus. But what we believe about the implication of this is shallow. We either want to fill the pews with unrepentant, well-fed souls, or seek acceptance by worldly standards. Many ungodly people are concerned about people's lives. But what about their souls? Who cares about that?

When Jesus was discussing his impending death, Peter decided to rebuke Jesus for such negative talk. But Jesus rebuked Peter in response. He gave him this to think about:
"Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?'"
Matthew 16:23-26
What can man give in exchange for his soul? Does that give us any idea of what is important to Jesus? Our lives, or the souls of men and women? Does a seed produce more seeds by comfortably remaining a seed? No, it must die first.

The faith of our current Christian culture is becoming decaffeinated. Just enough to get the taste, but not enough to keep us awake at night.

In the night of our times, we need to stay awake. Wake up!

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