We had been to church Saturday night. After the worship gathering, as my wife, Sue, talked to several friends, I stood in line to retrieve Noah, our grandson, from the nursery. As I looked into the room over the half-door, I watched as two three-year-olds “conversed” about a toy: “This is mine!” declared one, grabbing the toy. “No! This is mine!” insisted the other, snatching it back. I chuckled at the exchange . . . until I realized that this is exactly what many church leaders do with Jesus over the church.
Not that Jesus snatches it back, though he does choose not to bless us when we forget that the church belongs to him.
No matter how hard we have worked for it.
No matter how long we have cared for it.
No matter how much we have contributed to it.
No matter what position we play in it.
No matter how many vote otherwise.
The church belongs to Jesus. And so Jesus gets to declare her mission – not us.
“Go and make disciples of all nations [all people groups], baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey [notice, He doesn’t say, “know about”] everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20:21)
Many church leaders grab at the church and declare, “This is mine!” and seek then to make the church over in their image.
How do we recognize Me Churches, as opposed to Missional Churches?
· Instead of spreading mercy and justice in their community, Me Churches are committed to serving their own trinity: caring for our members, maintaining our facilities and perpetuating our traditions.
· Instead of trying to discern the best strategies for making more and better disciples today, Me Churches are caught up in conflicts over personal preferences in worship style, how to survive financially or how much of the pastor’s time get’s spent visiting and taking care of “us.”
· Instead of focusing on the needs of people in their community, Me Church leaders are concerned with our preferences, our comfort zone, what we are used to, and what has been meaningful to us.
· Instead of reaching out to and welcoming whoever is in their community, Me Church leaders only want to reach out to and welcome “people like us.”
The leaders of Missional Churches focus on becoming more like Jesus and discerning His will, rather than insisting on their own preferences for their congregation.
The leaders of Missional Churches are committed to picking up their crosses in sacrificial service as they fulfill Jesus’ dreams for their congregation, rather than insisting that their congregation cater to their personal needs and desires.
Are you more a Me Church leader or a Missional Church leader?
Is your congregation more a Me Church or a Missional Church?
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Dr. Jeff Stiggins