Pastoral thoughts from a United Methodist in Western Kentucky (USA)
Monday, December 05, 2005
Questions We Need to Continually Ask
1. Why do people need Christ? 2. Why do people need the church? 3. Why do they need this particular church? 4. To whom does this church belong?
- from Adam Hamilton’s Leading Beyond the Walls - Developing Congregations with a Heart for the Unchurched
These are questions that we as a church are going to have to ask ourselves everyday, every time a committee meets, and every time we pray about our church’s ministry. Why? Because I believe that they are the very questions that strike at the heart of who we are supposed to be. These are the questions we have to ask when we look at how the church should be publicized, structured, and operated, and that includes designs for worship, pastoral care, preaching, weddings and funerals, and fundraising.
As I said a few Sundays ago, a common definition of an active church member could be this: “One who devotes his/her time to the care and feeding of the institutional church.” The problem with that is that most unchurched people have no concept of the institutional church… because they have no concept of Christ! To be an effective church, we are going to have to equip and empower ourselves to engage culture in creative and meaningful ways. In the words of Adam Hamilton, a more meaningful definition of an active church member will no longer be defined by their contributions of time, talent, and treasures within the church; but will be defined by whether church members are engaging their culture in meaningful ways outsidethewallsofthechurch. In short: members need to become missionaries to the culture.
One person (Reggie McNeil) is more direct: "Until we bless people who 'go out' from us to reach people who may not come to us, we will continue to have a kingdom vision that is shrink-wrapped to church programs and church real estate." Ouch.
If we were to adopt such a process, all we will be really doing is going back to the roots of Methodism – which began as a renewal and missional outreach program of the Anglican Church. Or even more basic are the words of Jesus: “Goout and make disciples, teaching and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”