A few days ago, I found myself pulled into a discussion I didn’t fully realize I was being pulled into. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. Prepared or not, ready or not, and sometimes willing or not – there you are. Right in the thick of it.
It was interesting. It was relevant. I was just running a bit late for a long overdue dental appointment. So I had about 15 minutes, at that appointed time, to try and give an answer for a question that was being tabled. The discussion surrounded the church and the mission that the church has been given: “to go into all the world, and make disciples of all nations…” (see Matthew 28).
A good question you might be wondering, right about now, is this: What in the world does the church, the Great Commission, and establishment have to do with one another? That is a very good question – let me elaborate a bit more.
One of the persons in the discussion was convinced that the church, for the most part, has become more of an “establishment” and has lost (or minimized) it’s first love in pursuit of things that aren’t necessarily “after God’s own heart.” They referenced things like: structures, systems, vision statements, financial reports, and groups at the top who hold onto authority and power. A few minutes into this back and forth, this person made the comment: “the church looks more like an institution to me, with an establishment, goals and objectives, and less like the movement Jesus led.”
I have to be a little honest here: That had me thinking. Even if it may be accurate in some instances, in some examples, in some places and spaces; it surely is not true everywhere, in each situation, in every church. How do I know this? Because God’s Church is His answer to a lost and dying world that desperately needs the Gospel. The Church is the body of Christ, a city on a hill, a royal priesthood that has been called out of darkness into His marvelous light. He charged the Church to go into all the world, and He stated in no uncertain terms, that He would be with us even until the end of the world (again: Matthew 28).
I believe if we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” that it will all fall into place as long as we lean on Him to provide and sustain us. Who do we need to be? What do we need to do? We need to surrender to God! We need to be available and willing to go, to learn, to serve, and to work. We need to allow God to do His part and we need to be faithful in doing ours.
When our priorities are aligned with God’s…when all of that has been fleshed out and made new, I just believe we can trust that He will keep our actions, our motives, and our purposes in the right place. The Church is an essential, necessary, living movement that is called to give Jesus away. The Church is a people in communion and fellowship with God and with one another, who take the mission passionately and with great urgency. The Church is you and I, and despite any establishment or ulterior motive that some may in fact have, with God’s help, we can move the mission forward in spite of it. We must.
The conversation will continue. We agreed that day that it wasn’t going to just end there. I now look forward to it. But believe me, there are many out there who have a similar mindset and position. Some are in your sphere of influence. People who have been hurt by churches and church-people, whether recently or decades ago. People who have questions in a day/time where faith seems to be on trial and skeptics come out of the woodwork. People who try to seek excuses and reasons to stay at arms-length from making a decision that will change the course of their life, forever. Let’s seize this God-given opportunity to give truth away…to give Jesus away…to truly be The Church for His glory!
Blessings and peace.