A lot of great thinkers have concluded that the church needs to shift towards mission. Frost, Hirsh and others believe that Christ should shape our mission and the mission shapes the church. That might be an overly simplistic description but I’m not picking on it. In general I think it is a good move.
Changing the flow our strategy will not be enough. The next reformation of the church needs a sweeping change in heart and values. I’ve probably been spending a little bit too much time reading 1cor 13 and John but more and more I believe sacrificial love should be the life blood of Christian ministry. In conventional ministry the life blood of ministry is information. The underlying assumption is that knowledge changes people so find the right people who will present the right information to everyone else and they will change. It isn’t working out so well now.
If sacrificial love is as important as Jesus, Paul and John make it out to be why doesn’t this value shape what we do? If love is more important than knowledge than why do we spend so much time absorbing information and so little time interacting with people we care about? In as much as I believe in a simpler approach to church organization the size isn’t the pivotal factor. It really isn’t about how many people are meeting where. It goes deeper than that. It is about the Spirit having an opportunity to work through the body and that a Christlike genuine sacrificial love be evident in the lives of those who are committed to each other. If we organize ourselves in such a way that we prevent real genuine caring relationships to form and we put curbs and barriers up to manage people we are squeezing off the life blood of Christ’s body.
Don’t get me wrong, knowledge is an essential element and with out it we are destined to get sidetracked. Theology is very important but it too is also better understood in the context of learning interactive loving community.
Paul said it well when he said “without love I am nothing.” If our ministries are full of good things but do not have sacrificial love they are nothing. Jesus said “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” What does it mean to be a people that will leave the ninety nine to find the lost one?
I’ve had to ponder this deeply lately as I consider all the options for my son.