The Right Order
During the church growth years…. there was much about how to make churches healthy – we are indebted to the hard work they did for us. From 1980’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, many leaders wrestled with how to mature the church and move people into engaging the world. The result they found was that it became an inward focused church on “feeding me”, an attractional model that created a gospel and how Jesus, God and church “felt” to me… and reinforced a culture of multiple choice. This was NOT the intent and their models worked to ground people and move them into mission.
The challenge was mission was something much later…some models literally using the baseball model where mission was introduced at the 3rd base to home plate leg of the journey – instead of a completely different model where it was inherent and natural for a saint to be involved in the Kingdom’s (Christ’s) main business….
There are a lot of great thinkers who have grown out of what our church growth fathers did. The best thinking today starts with the outcome – God’s intent and His Kingdom. From that Rubric, of God’s intent, we then aim and shape and form our mission, and then, and only then, from our mission do we form, shape, develop & grow and organise the church.
In other words, our eschatology forms and shapes our missiology, which forms and shapes and ecclesiology.
Therefore, what is our eschatology (the end result, time, event, goal). It starts in Genesis 1 & 2, and why God created people, and the creation… He was wanting community with His creation and namely in personal relationship with us.
His entire eschatology is to redeem, and restore that holistic relationship, now veiled awaiting our complete redemption and the redemption of the entire creation (1 Corinthians).
Hence, our missiology is a waste unless it is aligned, submitted and coordinated with His plan for the world and creation. Our mission is a farse if not part of that ultimate plan. We’ll not achieve this in our own efforts, but we are called to be a part of what He’s doing in the world and He works through us – and that is woven in being His hands and feet in the most practical ways of loving, serving and blessing others – to manifest the values of the Kingdom (Isaiah 58, Isaiah 61, 2 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12).
Then, and only then is there a purpose for the church. Ever wonder why God even instituted the church? If we read our eschatology, and then our missiology – which is threaded through God’s Word, then the versus on the church (read Jesus’ biographies, and the epistles and it’s clear our purpose is the missiology, by being ambassadors, leaving the fragrance of Christ, being light, being salt… these behaviours, reflecting values of the Kingdom in the simplest ways become the jar that holds the message, Gospel, hope we have, are supposed to have anyway! Then the message makes sense. Then the “telling” of the Word makes sense and isn’t just God judging and condemning. Then, following, surrendering and sacrificing our wills to Him makes sense. For then, we also see and are aware of a) our lost state (Romans 1-4) and b) how great is His plan (eschatology) (Romans 5-8).
Now we have a life that makes sense, for God’s plan, intent, heart is the core and foundation for our efforts to reach the world, and our motivating central DNA of our behaviours as the church on mission.
In growing and being the church, we have a role, indispensable role – for Jesus only has physical hands, feet, eyes, mouth in us! He never re-inhabited the 2nd Temple, but He did inhabit us in the Holy Spirit. Wow! What a plan!