Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Drifting Off Mission

It may just be the number one reason why so many churches in America are not reaching people, growing and seeing lives changed. The truth is that churches have drifted off mission. What is the mission? The Bible makes it clear:

Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8)

The mission of the church is clearly to reach men, women, boys and girls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, as I like to say, “Evangelism must be the engine that drives the church.” That is the main thing I appreciated about Dr Jerry Falwell whose funeral is this afternoon in Lynchburg, VA. No matter what show I saw him on he always brought the conversation back to the Gospel...the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So why isn’t that the case so often? What causes churches to drift off mission? I’m sure there are many reasons, but let me just address what I believe are two of them. Many churches have drifted off mission due to criticism and complaints.

Criticism: Show me a church that is on mission and I will show you a church that is often criticized, especially from inside the walls of Christianity. For some odd reason the thought is that if a church is growing they must be compromising, using man-made tactics or watering down the Gospel. Though this is the case in many instances it is not always the situation. In fact, it’s not the churches that are growing that concern me near as much as the churches that aren’t growing. I beleive the church was meant to grow. Show me a pastor who passionately leads his church in the mission of reaching people and I will show you a pastor who has personal critics. It comes with the territory. Dr Falwell had his critics, many of whom were inside the walls of Christianity. But that never stopped him from doing what he beleived God had called him to do. The Apostle Paul also had critics but that didn’t bother him much or cause him to drift off mission either. In the first chapter of Philippians he goes as far as to say (my loose paraphrase), “Hey, who cares what they are saying about me…as long as Christ is preached, that’s all that matters.”

Complaints: I believe that many churches also drift off mission because instead of being consumed with reaching people they become consumed with “complaint management.” Unfortunately, pastors cannot go more than a day or two at the most without hearing about, reading about, or being confronted with complaints from people in their church about things in the church that they don’t like. And nine times out of ten these are non-Biblical issues that deal solely with people’s preferences and traditions. If a pastor is not careful, he will spend all of his time dealing with the complaints of the already redeemed and give very little time to leading and motivating the church to build bridges to and reach those who are far from God.

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