Recently I attended an annual gathering that is a common occurrence for most churches in our culture. It is an opportunity for the pastors to share ministry updates from the past year and communicate the vision of where God is leading the body of believers within their community. The vision that was shared for the coming year is to have more people in our community connected to Christ. Our mission as followers of Christ is therefore to connect people to Christ. Truthfully, this doesn’t change year to year. The words we use to describe our mission and vision may change, but the mission and vision are still the same. It is God’s plan of salvation and it is clearly detailed in scripture. We carry out the mission by living like Christ, loving people, giving to the Body and the community, and going forward with the good news of Christ. As these actions are carried out, the vision of more people connected to Christ becomes a reality.
So, what would this reality look like? I think there are a few assumed realities that as believers we probably will all have in common as we imagine a world with more people connected to Christ. Obviously, the Church grows in numbers. Certainly our community would be a kinder place. People in need in our community would probably be fewer. We would be more comfortable discussing God with the people around us. Our community would be able to influence other nearby communities and in turn begin to change the world as more and more people are connected to Christ. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
With this picture of more people connected to Christ in mind, allow me to ask a couple of questions…
As you imagine a world of more people connected to Christ in your community, where do they assemble for worship on Sunday morning?
Why do they assemble there?
Stop for a moment and give these questions some thought before you read further into this post.
Are the believers in your picture assembling at your church rather than one of the other churches across town? Maybe in your image there aren’t churches across town anymore because everyone has finally ‘come to Jesus’ in the right way and is attending your church.
You see, as I wandered around in my image of a world filled with followers of Christ I got distracted by the pseudo-paradise and ran head-on into the wall of American theology that I brought with me into the picture. I realized that there was a problem.
In our culture we say things like ‘my church’, ‘your church’, and ‘the church across town’. Typically what we are saying is that one of these groups is more spiritually correct than the others (probably the one I attend). Our small group has been discussing the word ‘church’ and this week the conversation went to a deeper level for me. When I gathered my thoughts after hitting the wall I realized that my definition of church was impacting my understanding of God’s plan of salvation. As I thought about connecting people to Christ I realized that connected to Christ cannot mean connected to ‘my church’. Connected to Christ can only mean connected to The Church…connected to His Church. God’s plan for the Body of Christ is not limited to a certain building or geographic location.
figment – something invented, made up, or fabricated
The truth is that we all bring figments from our culture and our own imaginations into our vision of reality. When it comes to connecting people to Christ I need to ensure that my vision and actions are not just based on the truth from scripture, but are wholly in agreement with God’s plan without any added fabrications from me. My actions should lead to people being connected and committed to Christ, not connected and committed to ‘my church’.
What do you think? Would love your contributions to this stream of thought.
Thanks for checking in…