During a recent visit with my mentor, Calvin, he drew my attention to the article written by our D.S. on the front page of our District Newsletter entitled The Church's Mission: A World That Is Lost. The article speaks to the decline of the church as result of it seeming to have lost its mission focus: taking the Good News of Jesus Christ OUT to a lost and hurting world. The article states that churches both large and small will continue to decline (and die) because of their failure to understand this reality.
Indeed, with rare exception the prevalent vision in a number of local churches seems to be one inwardly focused on the escalating plant maintenance issues associated with aging edifices, compounded by the tough economic times in which we are living. But hey, who can blame us - we're just being good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us to care for, right? That argument might hold water for the 'bricks and mortar' issues of the church, but the central focus should never be consumed by the building with the steeple, but instead on the souls of the people. While only a few of us are called to serve on the board of trustees, ALL of us are called to serve as the ministers of the church, reaching out to those in need of the Gospel, all around us.
Calvin had drawn my attention to the newsletter article because of the reference our D.S. made concerning the remote churches in rural locations that defy demographic standards and church growth expert's predictions by continuing to bloom right where they have been planted. This conflicts with conventional wisdom which dictates a move into major population center in order to maintain an effective ministry to the masses. So, how can this occur when we have many churches in decline while prominently planted within well established population centers?
The article continues "there are a significant number of folks in the congregation who do not believe it is an imposition to be concerned about others' spiritual well-being, concerned enough to dare to bring them to the fellowship of the Body of Christ." Truly,
this is the mindset required to genuinely live out our call as the authentic church. Unfortunately, all too often the paradigm shift required to relinquish a bricks and mortar centered version of ministry to one which embraces this mission focus is regarded as too radical by many of our local churches with aging congregations already in crisis.
How do you see CLMs serving as a catalyst for change of the prevailing inwardly-focused culture and empowering our churches to embrace the mission that we have been called to?