Monday, October 16, 2006

What "Church" Is For

Two posts in one day is unusual for me, but I want to put this out now as it's been bugging me for some time. I posted the original seed comments over at Dr. Ron Gleason's blog, but I will also post them here - albeit expanded.

In light of the ongoing kerfuffle over the Emergent Church and the never-ending kerfuffle over "church growth," I am more convinced than ever that the church will continue to have kerfuffles like these until she recognizes the following:

The purpose of the "assembly" is for believers to worship God, fellowship with one another, and learn the Word to be equipped for ministry. It is NOT primarily for the unbeliever. WE are to be the evangelists in our daily lives. New believers then come into our midst to be discipled.

A popular thing to do these days is for a congregation to draft a "mission" or "vision" statement. There is nothing inherently or necessarily wrong with doing so, IF it isn't part of an overall plan to steer the church in an unbiblical direction or to take it over in the name of joining the Emergent or Purpose-Driven bandwagons. If you come right down to it, it's really NOT necessary. Let me be more frank.

No "mission" or "vision" statements are needed other than the one Jesus gave us prior to His ascension. It's called "The Great Commission." It's about as forward looking and pithy as one can get. The Bible - both Old and New Testaments - contain a number of gems such as this, inspired by the Holy Spirit for the edification, instruction and correction of His people. I think we'd be amazed at what we'd find by digging around in its pages, instead of being distracted by the latest church growth fad or the hottest tome to come off the presses at Zondervan.

I realize it's a novel thought these days that Christians and/or churches should actually do something as innovative as study and obey Scripture, but then, I like novel thoughts. Especially when they point the way to Christ along with orthodoxy and orthopraxis.


Joe B. Whitchurch said...

The best evangelism is making disciples as we go out (Matthew 28). The worst evangelism and the worst discipleship seeks to dumb down both for the purpose of marketing, numbers, and feeling good. However in both the intermediate term as well as in the long term the latter feels real bad.

Joseph Ravitts said...

You made me cast around in my mind for a helpful analogy to the difference between outside outreach and in-church worship. This may not be the best, but it comes to mind.

A combat medic in the Army wears a helmet, flak jacket, etc. on the battlefield, because--well, because he's on the battlefield. That's appropriate there, to give him the best chance of staying alive himself so he CAN help his buddies. But if the same medic is later in a hospital, and is called on to assist in surgery, he won't come into the operating theater still wearing body armor. Instead, he'll put on surgical scrubs, the outfit appropriate to THAT setting. He is still the same person, but the different location calls for different gear.

//// Joseph Richard Ravitts

Ut fidem praestem in difficultate!

"lee n. field" said...

I'm suspicious of "vision casting", and the like. Did the Puritans ever do that?

It just smells too much like Dilbert Zone managerspeak, the kind of blather that techs like me filter through, all week long, for the bitter core.

All the vision statements in the world won't get packets through a bad cable.