Monday, January 10, 2011

Is mission the driving force or meeting?

A lot of people ask us what is the difference between us and a 'regular church'. We have a worship service, music, small groups, etc. And some say, "if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it must be a duck". I agree. And to be honest there were days where I couldn't, with any degree of clarity, define the difference. I'm gonna try to do that right now. The difference that we believe that defines us, our DNA as it were, is that...

"we have mission as a organizing principle rather than meeting or teaching". That's sounds simple but it means everything.

1. What we teach comes from a "need to know" developed on mission. We know the saints are in the field all week being missionaries and we teach each other (many times on location) to help us be better missionaries or to put it like Eph 4 does, we teach "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry".

2. We meet "to stir one another up to love and good works" (Heb 10:24) not just for the sake of meeting. So meeting has missional purpose. Fellowship has the purpose of encouragement based on mission, building a spiritual morale within the missions team.

3. Even Bible study changes for us. The Scriptures are profitable "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work". We ask serious questions like "Lord, why could we not cast this one out?" it is 'rubber meets the road' life training, just what we believe we saw Jesus doing with his disciples.

4. Our very identity is focused on mission. "we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should do them" (Eph 2:10). So the identity formed from His gracious saving works is mission. Like one who lays bricks is a mason, one who is on God's mission is a Christian.

5. Worship then always equals mission. The Greek word for worship means "kissing the ring of our King". And the way to kiss it best is to "do the will of the Father and finish His work". This was the context of the great passage of true worship that Jesus talked about in John 4. The worship of God isn't initiated or coaxed by good music but by God, who in his mercy shows us Himself, like he did to Isaiah, and asks us as we are bowed down "who shall I send and who will go for me"?

6. Preaching in the missional church isn't for the pro and isn't primarily for saints but instead it answers the missional call of Romans 10 that asks "how can they hear without a preacher?" The presumption is that the preacher is in the field not in the building. In the meeting centered church the answer must always be "bring 'em to the building, we don't know how to preach".

For the 'meeting centered church' worship means finding God in the building and "kissing His ring" there. Bible study is an activity in the building where we learn more about the Bible so that we know more. Preaching is confined to the larger building and is primarily for the saints a 'vigorous form of teaching' that honors the best teacher among us. Fellowship is gathering in the building for friendship rather than for the purpose of building a winning team where morale is strong because the battle is tough and morale is vital to mission. For the missional church, if you stopped the meeting, the mission would go on.

Ask yourself this simple question, If we never had a building to meet in or never had a church service again, would we stay together as a church? Would we still have rich fellowship? If so, how and where? Would we study the Scriptures together? How would we baptize and take communion? Would the leaders ever see you again? How would the head preacher get around to everyone to let them hear a sermon? Would your children ever be taught the Scriptures? How and where?

If you asked yourself these questions sincerely and answered them we believe you would find what we are seeking, church that is a people not a meeting, centered on a mission and not a service, much like what we think the New Testament church originally looked like.

That's what makes Crosswind a different breed.