|I really hope we see the problem here....|
It's no secret that I love church.
It's also no secret that sometimes I hate church.
It's the very definition of a love-hate relationship: I love the potential, the people, the wonder, the possibility, the vibe, the great things we do, the space for transformation, the message of kingdom life, and so much more...and I hate sometimes the things we get fixated on. So often The Church (this is true of pretty much every congregation I've ever been in, including a really big one) is busy thinking about how to get more people and more dollars inside the doors. Now granted, we do incredible things with your money and your time/talents/energy. And we need them, because there's lots to be done in the world. But sometimes it feels like we need the dollars and the people just to keep existing.
And then we get into these conversations, out in everyday life--where *finally* someone has asked us about church or life or something that allows us to talk about our faith, and we end up saying things like "well, I'm on the _____ committee." It doesn't matter what you say in the next sentence, I promise. Only the most committed of friends is still listening.
One of my favorite things about Missional Renaissance is the phrase "God is on mission."
Not like on the mission committee, but rather focused, on-task, keeping the work going.
Then the question is: are we on mission too? Are we on task? Or are we lost in our own plans, ideas, dreams, fears, expectations? Whose mission are we on?
I spend a lot of time trying to explore with people the idea that it's GOD'S mission and GOD'S church, and if we're not on mission then it doesn't matter at all whether we have the best Sunday School or the most engaging preaching or the flashiest service or the small groups that serve my needs. All that will matter is that we've left the Spirit somewhere, looking longingly after us as we go down a path we chose for ourselves, wondering if we'll look back and notice that she's beckoning us to another way.
Lots of churches--maybe even all churches (well, maybe not Quakers?)--are so invested in figuring out how to get people into the building that we've forgotten that God doesn't actually live inside the walls.** Meanwhile, God is waiting for the moment we set aside those things that are so important to US long enough to find out what's important to GOD.
Sometimes we may find that we're on the right track after all, and we can pick that project up and run with it, fueled by the steam of the Spirit.
Oftentimes I suspect we'll find that we're in uncomfortable territory, wandering into the unknown.
Which, I'm pretty sure, is a story in the Bible somewhere.....
God is on mission. Are we?
**note: I am not saying, in this post, that we don't care whether people come to church. I care deeply about whether people come to church--because I want for people to experience God in community, to worship together, to lift their voices in song (which we don't do anywhere else anymore), to seek faithfulness together. I am saying that sometimes those things happen outside the church building, because The Church is where The People are.