Shaped by Mission

Photo Credit: timtom.ch via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: timtom.ch via Compfight cc

Should the church shape the mission or should the mission shape the church? It sounds like a “chicken and egg” comparison, but if you are a Christian your answer will determine your trajectory as a disciple of Jesus.

Christopher Wright reminds us that, “It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission–God’s mission” (The Mission of God, 62).

In other words, mission should define church. Church should not define mission. In The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch puts it this way: “Christology determines missiology, and missiology determines ecclesiolgy…It is Jesus who determines the church’s mission in the world, and therefore our sense of purpose and mission comes from being sent by him into the world” (142). We must start with what we believe about Christ, which determines what we believe about our mission, which in turn should determine how we form and practice church.

Consider these words of Jesus about our mission:

“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Consider these words about Jesus and our mission:

“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured” (Hebrews 13:12-13).

Not only should mission define church, it should shape church. Conventional churches conform the mission to the shape of the church. This looks like hosting evangelistic events and expecting the spiritually unconvinced to come, like that trunk or treat scheduled for later this month. It looks like encouraging (or shaming) church members to bring their unconvinced friends to the building, campus, or event. It looks like a visitation program that fits evangelism into the church schedule at the convenience of the church member with little consideration for the schedules or privacy of the one visited. It looks like a calendar so filled with campus-located activities that members never have margin to be around the people that Jesus went outside the gate to die for! This is a church-shaped mission.

What if we conformed church to the shape of the mission? This would be unconventional church. What if we looked at the culture and the context of the people we are trying to reach and tailor our mission to living among them – just like the missionaries we send overseas do? What if we stopped inviting people into our buildings and started inviting them into our lives? What if we started introducing them to the truth of Jesus on their turf instead of trying to get them onto ours?

What if, once they embraced the claims of Christ, we planted the church among them? What if this new church was shaped by an ongoing mission to reach deeper into their culture instead of ripping them out of their mission field and assimilating them into our programs? What if we stopped spiritually neutering new believers by busying them in our buildings instead of equipping them to bear fruit in their own communities?

What if we, in the words of the author of Hebrews, got outside the camp? That’s where Jesus is!

What if we, in the words of Jesus, lived as if we were sent by him into the world? That’s how he told us to live!

Here’s my confession: Lately I’ve let the conventional church encroach on my mission. No more. By God’s grace, I vow to let mission shape my view of church.

What would that look like for you?

What’s in your DNA?

It’s no secret on the blog that Alan Hirsch has been influential on my philosophy of ministry. This brief video shows why I think we need to pay attention to what he’s saying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Lt9hk9fiU

Questions:

  1. How does Alan challenge your view of church?
  2. What is the current DNA (cultural ethos) of your church?
  3. What would need to change in your life for you to live more like a disciple?
  4. When you will you start living that way?

Alan Hirsch is Coming to North Carolina

I am delighted to announce that Alan Hirsch is coming to High Point, NC sponsored by North Carolina Baptists, and because you are reading this blog, you can be one of the first to register! I was first exposed to Alan’s thinking a couple of years ago when I read The Forgotten Ways. Through his words I found a voice that articulated much of the tension I had been feeling for at least a decade with the institutional forms of church in the West in which I have been raised.

God used Alan to help me examine once again the Scriptures to try and really understand what church, mission, and discipleship really should look like. I had the joy of facilitating a webinar with he and Deb earlier this year and have heard him teach in multiple venues. Every time I hear him I’m stretched and encouraged to contend for the Gospel in North America. I am currently reading On The Verge and it is equally challenging.

Here’s the deal. Because this is a white board session with Alan there are only 200 seats available! Registration will not open to the general public until next week, but we are making it available through this blog NOW. You can register today by clicking here.

Here are the details:

A Whiteboard Session with Alan Hirsch

A key missional leader, strategist, and author Alan Hirsch draws from his own experiences, as well as the experiences of ministries around the world, to provide examples of growing churches, church planting movements, and other missional projects. You are invited to join us for an informal session with Alan, seasoned with profound thinking, stimulating dialogue, contemporary expressions of church, and mixed with practitioner-based principles, stories, and a touch of humor–all pointing to the gospel.

Where and When:

The Crossing at High Point

921 Eastchester Drive

High Point, NC 27262

September 1, 2011

10:00AM-2:30PM

Cost:$20.00*Lunch will not be provided however, there is a food court located in the mall.

Register today because I know this will sell out fast!