Friday, March 23, 2012

Lent 2012 (5) Missional

In the last post we looked at Scott Mutter’s “Church Aisle” photo as an example of the attractional, “build it and they will come,” ministry philosophy. Today we’ll look at it from a missional philosophy.

From a missional viewpoint the empty sanctuary is a sign that the church is not holed up in the church but out in the world, meeting people where they are and serving them in Jesus’ name. The banner proclaiming the “Great Commission” is thus being honored by the people’s absence and their presence among the people on the street which runs through the center of the sanctuary.

Here the church’s identity is one of a people serving God’s mission. And they understand God as a missional God who sends his Son into the world to save it, who with the ascended Christ sends the Spirit to God’s people, and who through that same Spirit sends the people into the world to love and serve his creatures. From a missional perspective, that is what Mutter’s photo suggests.

We’ve tried the “build it and they will come” approach extensively throughout American history. “They,” however, no longer come and are not likely to come again anytime soon. As George Barna says, “It’s time to acknowledge that the institutional, programmatic approach to facilitating true faith is as broken as it can get – much more broken than the people being numbered as God’s chosen ones.”

The missional approach has much to commend it. Lent is a good time to reflect on the choices we make and need to make as God’s people.

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