While most bloggers out there are starting the new year with a positive and hopeful outlook, I’m starting with what some may call a cynical (I say realistic) moment.
Most churches are woefully unengaged in God’s mission, and this won’t change in the coming year.
There are too many “experts” using the word “missional” to refer to traditional missions or serving in the local elementary school. Without a radical shift in the basic understanding of what it means to be on mission, we’re just doing more of the same.
There are too many books out there with no real solutions, no new ideas. Yes, I’m aware that there’s nothing new under the sun. But there’s a whole lot we can do differently that would result in us being better missionaries. The practitioners tend to be left without a platform from which to share what they’re seeing God do.
There are too many missions organizations that treat non-professionals like a necessary nuisance. Until churches own the Commission and we’re all peers in God’s mission, churches will not learn to see themselves as missionaries.
There are too many churches that waste money on buildings, property, events, and staff. Our priorities are made clear in our spending habits, and most churches don’t care at all about anything but themselves.
There are too many believers who have had short-term missions experience that left them thinking either 1) they completely understand missions, did their time, and now they’re experts in the field, or 2) missions isn’t for them. A system with these results is broken.
There are too many more titillating things to read about besides the great spiritual need all around the world. It’s too hard to prayerfully read up on the Christian church bombing in Egypt when there’s another really good article on the latest iPad killer.
So change isn’t likely this year. There’s too much opposition. Too much noise.
Happy New Year.
Fortunately, most churches don’t have to get it in order for God to do great things among us. The few who will obediently turn outward and engage the world in redemptive relationships will be God’s means to the spread of the gospel and the planting of indigenous churches. The ones who know they have nothing to offer are the ones through whom the world can more clearly see Jesus.
This year, I’m not going to stop talking about missions; about our privilege and responsibility to translate the good news into every culture in which we find ourselves. I’ll continue to geek out on missions strategy and bridges to sharing the gospel. Lord willing, I’ll continue to be part of this ongoing conversation among those who are on mission (or at least want to be).