Friday, February 06, 2015
What Is MIssion?
The very existence of the calendar reminds Christians that, as Robert Louis Wilken put it, “Christianity is a culture-forming religion.” Mission unfolds as nothing less than the re-making of human patterns of life and existence around a new story with cosmic implications.Please think about that, deeply. The mission we have been given is to form cultures - to change the world totally. It is not to make converts or count confessions.
YES! To change the culture we have to convert the people. YES! The culture cannot change unless the people change. YES! Evangelism is a part of changing the culture. BUT! Evangelism does not comprise our mission. It is at best the foundation for our mission. Our mission is the broadest possible mission.
Years ago, in rural Minnesota where my father was raised, people would buy a piece of land. Once they got enough money together they would build the basement/foundation of the house. They would then proceed to live in the basement until such time as they could raise enough cash to build the house. Sometimes this would take years, even decades. I went looking for pictures of this on the Internet - can't find them. My guess is the practice has been outlawed. It did produce some unsightly neighborhoods - dirt lots, choked with weeds except for the path taken by the pick-up parked next to a concrete slab with a tilt-up door on top. Sometimes people would emerge from the slab and get in the truck. It was strange.
It honestly seems to me like that is the state of at least the Protestant Church today, if not the church generally. It is an uncompleted edifice - functioning, but yet an eyesore. Incomplete and as a result the lot around it rots in disuse.
We pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves we have a mission - we go on a short term mission and feed some people that really need feeding and we run an event at home and add a few names to the roles. We find a survival strategy, but we ignore what we are called to do.
I am currently reading a book about the Six-Day War in Israel. The Israeli army is so small in comparison to its neighbors that it simply cannot practice defensive warfare. It cannot simply seek to survive - it will lose any battle played on such lines. Their only option is aggressive offense. That's where the church is today. We are playing defense, which will end in our demise. We have to play offense, but offense on global terms - the kind of big mission offense referred to in our opening quote.
We have to try and genuinely change the world.
culture mission survival the church