Friday, July 1, 2011

Ite missa est – “Get out!”

“Which worship style is right” is, after all, the wrong question. The better question is this: “Does our worship push us out of our church sanctuaries (or wherever it is we meet) to be Christ to the world?” Ronnie McBrayer

In my "previous" life, I prepared logistics support plans for missile systems. For those of you not familiar with logistics plans, their purpose is to ensure that weapon systems can be maintained. They include (among other things) plans for how soldiers will be trained to repair and maintain the systems and how supplies will be transported and stored. In other words, how will we train, deploy and maintain personnel and equipment over the lifetime of the system.

I left that career behind me nearly 20 years ago now. I continually refer to it as "my previous life." And I've assumed that I would never return to that career.

However, recently I've become aware that my current ministry as pastor and preacher has a lot in common with my former job! Articles, such as Ronnie McBrayer's, remind me that at our best, we should be training and maintaining Christians and then deploying them back into the world to make a difference for the Kingdom of God!

We gather on Sunday to worship God, but then we are sent back out into the world as the Body of Christ, a foretaste of heaven here on earth. That's what it is all about.

But as someone I respect often points out that means we put a tremendous burden on that one hour on Sunday. We expect worship to be worshipful, to be entertaining, and to be relevant. Pastors have to teach, to inspire, and to equip all well being authentic and engaging. But even more than that we have to deploy our folks to their schools, their offices, their homes, their ballfields, their golf courses . . . to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through their actions and words.

We could have great attendance, lots of baptisms and large numbers of good committed church members but if we fail to deploy them--to send them out our walls to serve the broken, hurting world God so loves--then we've failed.

So how do we retrain Christians to see Sunday worship not as an event but as preparation for their life in the world? How do we change a culture that assumes that evangelism is inviting seekers to church to a culture that recognizes our job is to seek out the lost and meet them where they are--just as Christ met us where we are?


Chip said...

As a former soldier, perhaps I should take our fellow Christians on a field trip - so that each may see the real battles to be fought are not about which doughnuts to serve - but rather to whom we should serve the still got some connections to get me a missle?

Jim Freeman said...

I think the first thing to do is to retrain Christians to see the life of the church as more than an hour a week. It is, or should be, a lifelong comitment to faithful living AND an open invitation to participate on all levels in the community. There are no solitary Christians. God has called people, plural.