Next Wednesday will begin an adventure unlike any that I have yet experienced. We at Pond Springs will begin the process of becoming missional. Most churches are wonderfully tight-knit families that love the Lord and want to reach the world. However, most churches have also become accustomed thinking of ourselves as a magnet rather than an explosion. We have thought that if we "flavor" things properly (i.e. style of worship, building ambiance, preaching style, programs, etc.) then people will eventually just be attracted to us. We have internalized the "If you build it they will come" mentality as if it were true. When they come, we love and welcome them. The problem: they're not coming!! We're not converting anyone. In fact, we're losing people by the droves.
At Pond Springs, the elders have recognized this deficiency in modern American Christianity, and have committed themselves to stemming the tide. A group of 13 members of the Pond Springs family will begin a month-long period of serious spiritual preparation for the task of becoming missionaries in our own community (i.e. missional). Rather than waiting for the lost to come to us, we will begin to explore ways to heed Jesus' call to "Go" to them. We will not just be looking for new ideas and strategies. We will spend the month of August inviting God to challenge even our fundamental assumptions about what the church is and how it should approach its mission. We will be disciplining ourselves to maintain a posture of submission so that, when God challenges our traditions and assumptions, we won't cave into our gut's inborn desire to preserve comfort. We will accept discomfort for the cause of Christ, as He sought us out through every kind of discomfort.
We will embrace the fact that we, the church, are Christ to the World. We don't merely represent Him or emulate Him. We are His Body; we do His work; we speak His words; we bring His salvation. We are anointed, chosen, called, and declared righteous by the Spirit. And we are told to "Go."
So we will go into the community, where the people are whom we are called to reach. We will go to the mall, the coffee shops, and the grocery stores to meet them on their own ground. We will go bearing an expression of love and acceptance that is discernible and tangible. We will go, leaving our judgmental spirit behind. We will go with patience, realizing that God will draw them in His own time. We will go with strength and direction from the Spirit.
He came to us. We will go to them.