A Cynical Moment

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).

6 thoughts on “A Cynical Moment

  1. Pingback: Missional Misunderstood | The Blind Beggar

  2. I read this and ached inside. We are the body of Christ. We are His workmanship created for good works in Christ. That is…every single one of us. Every person, claiming to know Jesus, sitting in every chair every Sunday is called to give it away! I long to see people in my ‘church home’ live it, in His strength and with the love of Jesus fueling us in giving it all away. And to wrestle through how we as a body will take it to the nations effectively and consistently.

    Thanks for this realistic New Years Post, it is a call to wake up and go for it. We are all invited to play in the Kingdom, the beauty & grace is that even when most of us don’t He still uses and blesses those that do, mainly through deeper intimacy with Him, all while continuing to advance His Kingdom. He is so good.

  3. Fully agree that the Church could have more impact than she does. However, I have to guard against allowing ‘missional’ to become the new legalism – the new standard by which we’re judged.

    For the Church to become the Bride she was created to be, she needs to engage God rather than culture. We need a fresh rediscovery of the gospel and infuse our teaching not only with missional challenges, but knowledge of the character of God. Faith accomplishes more than guilt.

    You’re right that ‘missional’ has become such a broad term it’s lost it’s meaning, but it appears that often we try to be ‘missional’ to prove our relevancy, usefulness, and power in an age when the Church is increasingly marginalized. When being missional has a subconscious agenda such as this, it’s nothing more than another attempt to hang on to christendom influence.

    Begin with God and let’s see where we go from there.

  4. Listening to Caupot’s lecture on Derrida. He is something of an expert on the subject. He noted that once a term is used more than once it is codified and thereby leaves the once iconoclastic nuance of its original invocation. Seems missional has run that same course.

    Ernest – maybe you should explore some new iconoclastic term for your very appropriate aims in this blog. Seal it up in a time capsule. Open it in about 20 years. Let’s see if anything has changed.

    How is that to foster along your cynicism. :)

    On a constructive note ;)

    Your provocations help many to think through our methodologies to the core of our theological understandings. Keep pressing on friend.

  5. Calling it like it is isn’t cynical. Saying “it hasn’t worked in the past, there’s no hope, so why bother?” is cynical. Staying in the conversation is the best thing you can do because if the problem isn’t addressed then we can’t move forward to fix it.

    –C. Holland

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