Michael Wallenmeyer writes a great piece that came from a great question of a missionary. Something we must as a church in a city or suburb must be thinking through as we want to be on mission together in the work of proclaiming the gospel to those around us.
Not long ago I had a furloughed missionary ask me the following question, “what segment of the community that surrounds your church would seriously miss you if you suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth over night?” To spin the question another way, what segment of your community would miss you because you had been loving them and caring for them in word and deed?
That is a great question. No one will argue with the fact that the church is called to live as salt and light in our culture. In fact, the Biblical purpose of salt is to be immersed in culture in order to renew, restore through the awesome power of the gospel. My experience in suburbia is that typically we deal with the issue of being salt and light in one of two ways,
We gather for a worship service on Sunday morning and then go our separate ways for the rest of the week and look for ways to share the gospel with the world on our own
The pastor, or leaders in the church come up with specific “projects” for the church to participate in and people sign up if they have enough time in their schedule.
I believe option “1” is so deeply ingrained in how many think of church that they do not even question it. The idea of being involved in a community that is engaged in mission together just seems like a pipe dream to suburban Americans who are already burning the candle at both ends.
Option “2” is something we still do at our church on occasions. Since I live in a glass house I want to be careful about throwing stones. But there are some serious limitations to treating the mission of God as a project, especially when it happens in a top down manner (leader says this is what we are going to do and we sign up a few people to go do it). Doing things that way leads to short-term excitement because it did not come from the hearts of our people, our own connection with the needs our people see in their neighborhoods. Also, if we are not careful it can negate the fact that we are all part of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9), which means that each believer has the God-given capacity to be dreaming, thinking, and praying about ways that they can bring the gospel into the traffic of everyday life.
Read the rest at Engaging in Mission as Community | Missional in Suburbia