Small churches that want to remain viable in the 21st century will need to become the pulse of their communities. I have no doubt that this has been talked about in the larger world called the church. I write from the context of serving as a pastor in two completely different congregations. One congregation is in an urban setting, the other sits in a rural community. We’ve done anything and everything to let the community know we’re present, available, and ready to welcome them into our space. At times we’ve had some successes and other times we’ve had to dump “the idea” into the, “let’s never try that again,” trash can. One of the things that really needs to change is how we view “space?”
At some point the church needs to change its language when it comes to words like space. Isn’t it more important to learn what it means to enter and how to enter the space of someone else, outside the walls of the church? How does one engage with a stranger, in their own space? How does one dialogue with someone who would never enter “our space,” the place we call church? Part of being the church sometimes means we leave the comfort of our space. It really means being innovative in the way we engage with others outside of our space. We will never be the pulse of our communities until we learn how to engage with the space outside of the walls of our church.
When it comes to being missional, I guess I’ve never really called or labeled myself as someone who is missional. We don’t have anything in our churches that claim we’re a missional community. I guess you can say, “We’re not that cool.” I’ve tried many things to jump start the people of God in regards to God’s mission in the world. I’ve heard a plethora of really smart people talk about missional things. I’ve even occasionally tried to teach about the mission of God and what it means to be a missional community as followers of Jesus. Honestly? I don’t know how many would even remember the day and time I talked about what a missional community or church looked like. I guess it could be my fault that no one knows and maybe it’s not my fault or maybe the problem was , that I wasn’t awake when I first heard a professor I had in seminary lead a whole class on missional theology. What’s my point you ask?
There was a blog this past week that a pastor friend posted that caught my attention and peeled away some stuff for me that I think has changed my whole perspective when it comes to what it means not only to be missional, but what is expected of me when it comes to jumpstarting the local church with a vision that is doable for any small church across America, a vision that involves the entire church.
I’ve been working overtime in trying to nudge God’s people to be missionaries in the world. I’ve coached some on what it means to be in the world, always looking and ready to make a difference in a person’s life. I’ve encouraged persons to live as people of the new commandment and to take ownership of God’s mission in the world. The problem is that I’ve asked those I’ve served to do it alone. I’ve forgotten to tell them that they need is the church and that doing God’s mission in the world requires the whole family of God.
I guess I’ve forgotten the key ingredient to being a missional community.
I’ve left out the word “together.” Churches won’t be the pulse of their communities until they do God’s mission together.
More to come.