A Word of Caution

Can't help it - it's part of who I am. I absolutely love getting together with the body of Christ to worship, pray, sing, encourage, be encouraged, hear the Word preached, and seek to glorify God.

There is at least one other huge value to our Sunday morning gathering as the Church ­- one that we infer quite a bit but rarely articulate using words. It is, among other things, a missional activity.

I believe that we, the Church, are working to take full advantage of the (admittedly fading) American cultural norm of Sunday mornings -­ the idea of "going to church" - in order to use it as an opportunity to show and tell the living gospel of Christ.

When we serve the Church in and around our weekend services, we are doing so in a missional capacity. As we take care of someone's kids, they are able to, possibly for the only hour that week, sit and reflect on the condition of their heart and mind. As we make their coffee, man the projector, bang a drum, or open a door, we are creating a unique environment - an environment that facilitates spiritual community and encourages people to find and (better) follow Christ Jesus. That is being missional, in the midst of our own worship experience.

We do so imperfectly. But none-­the­-less, this is a significant part what we do in our weekend worship services.

As we walk this missional road together, I would like to add a brief word of caution based on these poignant words that came through my email inbox awhile back:

"I think we sometimes put the missional cart before the community horse. And we are doing it in churches that are truth-­hungry and formation-­focused. We grasp the truth of the kingdom, and we long to draw closer to God, but then we expend tons of energy on missional activity and pay scant attention to the quality of our relationships.

I think I know why: it's easier and more quickly fulfilling to get active in kingdom work than to get along with kingdom citizens. Stay active doing good things in the world, and you won't need to face the bad things going on in your family and in your own heart. You will be too busy with kingdom work to worry about quality relationships."

Larry Crabb from­ RealChurch, Page 123

As we move forward together in our individual churches ­- doing really good work week in and week out -­ let us be wise and heed these words. Let's not get so wrapped up in our actions that we lose our hearts.

Weekend services are, at least for now, a huge part of how society sees us. And our missional activity in the execution of them is vitally important. But we cannot afford to allow kingdom activity to become a substitute for our walk with Christ and with each other. We must keep our eyes open to this temptation and find ways to encourage one another in Christ as often as we possibly can. Daily is good. (Hebrews 3:13)

Put in a right perspective, missional activity is resourced out of the overflow of our hearts. We are encouraged, energized, and even fueled by it. It is the result of our active participation in what is described in Philemon 1:4-7 ­a partnership (formerly “sharing of our faith”) that refreshes the hearts of the saints. Flip it around, and you’ll find a recipe for fatigue, distress, and burnout. And that’s not good for anyone.

Grace & Peace to you all.