Updated Friday, March 20, 2020 with new resources.
As churches and ministry leaders face a shocking new reality in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pathway forward on meeting the spiritual needs of our congregations and finding creative ways to remain on mission for the Kingdom are needed now. I hope you find the following free resources to be a benefit as you seek to continue participating in the message, mission, and movement of God in these challenging times.
I first met Michael in the spring of 2018. My wife, Mary, and I were in the thick of planting a new church in the suburbs of Chicago with a heart to serve the community and share the gospel of hope and restorative grace in Jesus Christ. We were filled with the Spirit, driven by our faith, and ambitious about what the Lord might do through our new ministry. Even our sending organization was optimistic in our vision, experience, and the possibilities of what might come of starting a new evangelistic community of faith. But optimism gave way to discouragement, confusion, and deep theological questioning.
The Christian church, regardless of denominational affiliation, doctrine, or methodology is being faced with the reality of a coming paradigm shift. There are significant disruptions already at play and forecasted to continue well into the future. Socially, financially, and theologically, the present day church in North America is generally unprepared to grapple with many of these disruptive shifts already making waves through the church.
Mary tucked the colored eggs away in preparation for some morning fun with the kids and I got the first pot of coffee started. In just a few hours our house would soon be transformed from a quiet sanctuary to a bustling gathering filled with food, conversation, music, and prayer. It was Easter Sunday and the body of Christ was preparing to meet, as we do every Sunday morning, in a simple and purposeful setting.
I’m not known to travel very much, especially by plane. However, as the Lord would have it, He put me on six planes in the span of 27 days that took me to the edges of the country for the purpose of joining Him in His mission. The picture above became a familiar sight for me. It was also symbolic to the purpose of each of these trips and how the Lord continues to be leading – “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Movements and causes come and go all the time. But there is one movement that has withstood the test of time because its founded in truth and spiritually empowered. Regrettably, the statistics have been in for quite some time: Christianity has plateaued and begun a slow decline in North America, not because its been proven false, but because we have lost sight of our mission.
In his final instructions to his followers, Jesus is clear; they have a mandate — a ‘great commission’ — over their lives. To be a follower of Jesus, united in His death and resurrection, and the recipient of a restored soul for all eternity, is to be a fully enlisted and endorsed participant in God’s redemptive plan for the world.
There is something freeing, beautiful & powerful when we get back to the basics. When we strip away the access, fluff, irrelevant, and unnecessary, we’re left with nothing but the essentials. This is how we do church.
In the age of digital contentedness, institutional abuse, leadership failures, relational brokenness, and social persecution, many faithful followers of Jesus have found themselves questioning their participation in a local church community. I contend the answer and solution is found in rediscovering the purpose and mission of the church, and it involves accepting and acting upon the assignment that has been given to every follower of Jesus. Continue reading “The Mission of the Church”→