Friday, April 11, 2008

The Mission-Part II

I want to address some of the comments that were made as a result of The Mission. I appreciate the knowledge that others can bring to this idea and I hope you all know that I respect your insight. Church stuff has become way more complicated than it was ever supposed to be. I'll try to clarify a couple of things I said and I'll respond directly to some quotes I pulled out from the comments I received. Also, for similar challenging Church discussion, check out Much Fruit's recent blogs and comments. Let's get to it....

"I agree with this as long as it is understood that Christ cares about the ends as well as the means that His shepherds use to build His church."
-Yes I agree with this. My aim in laying out a sort-of generic mission/purpose is to allow room for wisdom and discernment to execute those means by the shepherds. I believe they are charged with the responsibility of knowing their community and what their needs are, spiritual and otherwise. This is not meant to dumb down the Gospel but it is meant to be more relevant to their local situations. I believe that God will do the work, but shouldn't we also try to relationally reach the people? Some people are going to respond to our love, which is God's love anyway, before they receive any part of the Gospel. His Shepherds must be aware of this.

"Yes as Christians we are called to win souls for Christ, however, is that primarily the church's job, or ours? "
-It's our job. We are responsible for our relationship with God. I wouldn't say that my sin is my church's fault. Neither is it the church's fault that they didn't convert the unsaved. It's the message, not the person anyway, church or individual is secondary.

"How do we evaluate the success or failure of a particular ministerial venture that seeks to ‘increase and advance the Kingdom of God’?”
-Other comments around this quote assume a little too much about my position. I strongly believe that elder and pastoral oversight is very important to each ministry. But not primarily the programmatic stuff. They need to be involved with the lives of the ministry leaders personally. Mentoring them and doing life with them to ensure spiritual growth as well as ministerial "success". Accountability is powerful and spiritual fruit flows from humble, disciplined believers.

So what is success? I think it depends on who's in the picture. Believers should grow and gain purpose of life and their place in the Kingdom (this includes evangelism). Non-believers should be challenged to investigate the Gospel, eventually facing a personal choice to accept it.

"sticking to biblical standards in terms of church government and qualifications for leadership; maintaining the outward purity of the church through biblical church discipline."
-Nothing more to say here, I like these things.

"Finally, a quick word on altar calls. First, I want you to quote me, chapter and verse, where the first altar call appears in the Bible. Second, do a little research on the history of the altar call and let me know if you think it is a biblical practice."
-I'm honestly not much of a Biblical researcher at this stage of my life/walk, so this ain't happening. After reading Lynn's comments, I pretty much agree with her take. I'm not going to condemn a church that asks people to raise their hand as a sign that they are praying for salvation, just because it never happened that way in the Bible.

I want to share my life and struggles with like-minded people who want to be like Jesus, and mix it up with unlike-minded people. And I'm concerned about a church's intentional work towards reaching the unsaved. In my definition of that, the church's role of reaching the unsaved includes building up believers-it just doesn't end there. The church is also concerned with its relevance to the surrounding community.

So in my family's search for a church, we are not looking for seeker-sensitive or Bible thumping or any other defining label. The formats and styles and programs will be different everywhere, so those will be personal preferences. But the church has to prepare me for my personal mission which is the same... "To increase and advance the Kingdom of God."

Choose Wisely

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pass it on

I know my readership is not terribly extensive, but I want to pass on this blog from my friend Jay even if it only gets a few more hits because of it. It's part of a paper he wrote for his seminary studies. Stay tuned to his blog, because there is plenty more to come.

I'm still planning on responding to all the comments in my "The Mission" post. I haven't forgotten, I am just trying to prioritize things here in the `sphere. I've been working on several projects/papers at school lately and I'm trying to keep pace with the deadlines. So far, all is well.

Choose Wisely