The name of the game today in “churchworld” is competition…despite all the talk about different paradigms in ministry, most churches are in competition with each other for a “shrinking” audience. This past Easter, I think we received at our home mailbox about 4 flyers from local church “startups” (you know what I mean, those entrepreneurs who are attempting to start a mega-church with a worship team they moved in from out of town with the young, superstar aspiring preacher) that said, “come to our church – we do children’s ministry better, we worship God more deeply and we preach God’s Word more authoritatively than ANY OTHER church in town (especially the church you are currently going to).” I think you know what I mean!
Chapter 5 in The Tangible Kingdom discusses the “moving violations” that Kingdom people seem to stumble upon when trying to take baby steps into living in a renewed sense of faithfulness. Besides talking about the “we do church differently” problem, Hugh and Matt outline a few others that, if there weren’t so tragic, would be a bit funny. The issue remains the same – when change is in the wind, even if the Spirit of God is attempting to bring about that change, there is resistance. Whether people want to power up on others through mindless comparisons, or if they want to be the only ones on the block to hold on to what has been tried and true, or if they are handing the pressures of ministry by sticking their head in the sand and praying it will all go away…every strategy essentially comes from the same foundation – fear.
We’ve got to discover ways to move forward – though the first aspect to embrace as you and me transition into a new day in ministry is to “do” what doesn’t come naturally – an embracing of humility. The main point of this chapter is there is NOT one way of doing missional living…the bottom line is not that we adhere to ONE model of ministry that we can then reproduce, package, and sell as “the secret” to successful ministry in the 21st century…we can start wherever place we find ourselves in the present. We don’t have to trash what God has already done or is already doing in our context. Rather Huge and Matt say clearly,
“The call of this book is not to get everyone back on the front lines of mission but to get everyone involved in mission. Whereas some would say we need to move past our existing church forms, we disagree. We just need to see them as they are, accept their weakness and their strengths, and find ways to help them contribute. It is true that to try to saddle up the horses and head in bold new directions as a group may be too aggressive and unsettling to the good that is being done within these more traditional church structures.”
More coming tomorrow…