Thursday, October 19, 2006
In my last 2 blogs (Growth and A New Reality) I have been commenting on Reggie McNeal's book "The Present Future." I have found this book to be challenging and helpful to our church in this time as we seek to minister in our community in the 21st century. Today I would like to look at chapter 3 in the book.
(The Queen Mary in Long Beach)
In chapter 3, McNeal talks about "A New Reformation." This new reformation is taking the church closer to the world; not theologically, but physically. And to do this, we need to change the perspective we have about doing ministry. For so long we have tried to train people to be able to do the work "in" the church; to give them church jobs to do. And that worked okay as long as the people wanted to do the jobs, and people were coming to the church to hear about Jesus.
But things have changed, and people aren't coming to the church the way they used to. We are now living in a society where our faith has become individualized, and the church is no longer the primary place that people seek answers for their faith questions. So we have to take a new tact, and that is to become missionaries.
Now, when I say "become missionaries," you might think about going to another country. But this is not the case anymore. Missions work needs to be done in our own communities, because in each community (especially Long Beach) there are many cultures (not just ethnic, but cultures within the different age groups as well. So, as we think about missions, we need to think of it in terms of "community transformation."
How do we connect and become part of our community? How can connecting with the community help the Kingdom of God? When I say connect with the community I don't mean to become like the culture around us. Again, we are not to change theologically, just practically. We need to find ways to share Christ's life-changing message with the way we live and love in our community. As we touch lives, and people change, our community will be transformed.
To do this we need to explore the needs of the community and build our ministries and churches in a way that connects with the community's needs. We have to remember why the church exists, to impact the world around us. We need to remember that we are commissioned by Jesus to reach out to the lost and hurting, and build people up around us. In one sense it is a new reality (as McNeal says), but in another sense, it is not, because it is really what Jesus did when He was here on the earth. What do you think about this? Tell me what you think.