Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evangelism is Too Expensive (Both Socially and Monetarily)

"... the mutation of solid church into heritage, refuge, and nostalgic communities has seriously decreased its ability to engage in genuine mission in 'liquid church'[the ability to contextualize Jesus by being culturally specific and relevant]." -Bauman

Recently, I was engaged in dialogue with a church that was moving forward in an exciting new chapter of their church life by starting a 2nd venue- with plans for more. They had done all the proper prep work: consulting with venue veterans, they had no debt (not even a mortgage), had savings, had read books, talked with local leaders, and began recruiting for staff needs... only to claim that they didn't feel, "God allowing them to (plant other churches) at this time", when it came time to pull the trigger with money.

How, when, and where is God against His message being carried out in new ways to new areas? Now hear me, I have, for years and on record, stated that I want NOTHING to do with church planting other than praying and providing funds... which sounds like a lady I heard proudly proclaim that she would pay for people to do missions work "for her" because she knew she was too much of a prima donna. We both sound stupid.

... or a denominational leader who claimed (off the record, of course) that this "church planting thing is only a fad".

The early church in Jerusalem was so isolated, so self-centered, that many scholars argue that God used persecution to cause a viral explosion of churches throughout the entire region. And, if we are to call ourselves "Christians"- a moniker that to proclaim 1800 years ago would have gotten you swift death- then we better start carrying that torch.

That means we stop proclaiming the need for community and engage in real and deep friendships that are awkward because we call each other out and are there for the their (and our own) tough times.

That means we stop talking about planting a church and gather our little group of 5-15 at a house/coffee shop/bar/park and talk about things of significance.

That means we stop living in debt so we can help those who are less fortunate.

That means we refuse to take Jesus lightly and actually read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and get to know this guy we are, allegedly, following.

But lets get back to churches before I go. If your church isn't really reaching out to its surrounding community, planting venues, living with each other, and planting new churches... what IS it doing?

Leonard Sweet said it this way, "The toast at the Jesus table is not 'Here's to us! [those already present]', but, 'Here's to those who aren't here,'."

It is our commission to go and find them, lovingly take them by the arm, by their hurt, and show them our Father. There is nothing else.

But maybe God is telling other people/churches that evangelism is just too darn expensive...

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