How long have you heard that mantra or repeated that mantra yourself?
I have, or it has been an unacknowledged voice at the back of my brain (I know I often post on this, but the ordained are bad at this…..I get exhausted just listening to some state how busy they are, how many services they lead and ‘oh…..I haven’t managed a day off for a while (usually with a smirk)….. then I wonder what we communicate subtly and how lifeless our spoken words are as everything has been prepared in a hurry with a value set that shouts ‘try harder’).
I read this post a few days back. I like it.
We have expended an humongous amount of energy in the last ten years trying to help our churches become more ‘missional’ and much of it has been from good theology and with the best intents. But it has been hard work.
Not just that, it seems that many who have started on this journey have found it incredibly difficult. It’s not simply that those in the community aren’t interested. Its true that we are one of the most secular countries in the world and the Christian faith does have something of an image problem, but I think the issue runs deeper than that.
Increasingly I am coming to the conclusion that the reason we find it so hard to engage in mission is because our own spiritual formation is lacking and has been lacking for a long time. We have not done discipleship well, so we have people who ‘know the rules’ and can keep the club functional but lack the passion to do much more.
When love for God is fading its hard to find enthusiasm for introducing others to him.
Its epidemic to be so busy with work (often because we have bought the consumer myth) that we lack time to build relationships with people let alone God. Simply challenging people to ‘get on with the job’ of mission is like telling a fat person to run a marathon. It just isn’t going to happen. Or if it does it will be from all the wrong motives and will then get done in bizarre and unhelpful ways.
There is so much that needs attention in the life of ‘church’, but as I have reflected recently on what I consider the most critical place to start if we are to be effective, I am coming back to the need for some more substantial and rigorous spiritual formation. I don’t mean more Bible studies, although you won’t go far wrong if you’re really engaging with the Bible.
But I do mean helping people to recalibrate their own spirituality so that they find themselves deeply connected to God and living life out of that connection.
When mission and evangelism are engaged in dutifully and as tasks they are rarely effective, but when a person who is encountering God regularly and genuinely connects with another person then its impossible for that experience of God to stay hidden. So when we ‘send people out’ who are running on ‘spiritual empty’ it ought not be a surprise if they come home disappointed, burnt out or simply disinterested and uninspired.
So the focus of my own life this year will be in kindling a deeper and stronger connection with God. Not so I can do mission more effectively, but because I need that. I have no doubt that the result will be a more credible witness, but I think the horse needs to get in line with the cart.