There are two "Christian" visions that compete: 1) that of the traditional church with its structures, programs, and leadership; and 2) the Biblical imperative of Christ to go to the lost, make disciples, baptize those who believer, and teach them to observe Christ's commandments. Two worlds colliding. Maybe to some they are one and the same, but my experience is that they are different cultures. Different world views. We SAY that our churches are about reaching the lost, but when it comes right down to it, they are following a "churchianity" vision where the real goal is to get people to GO TO CHURCH. Christ's mandate and vision is that His Church GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES of the nations.
We work within both worlds, but are clearly focused on the latter. One of my frustrations as a missionary is that most believers are content to dwell within the church environment that has been created for them. It is for the most part a neat, secure world where one knows what is clearly expected: go to church, give your tithe, and participate as actively as time permits in the various programs and ministries of the church.
When someone with an apostolic calling and vision comes around lifting a prophetic voice to literally get out there and make disciples of the nations, there is resistance. Excuses are made...we are too busy...I am not gifted in that kind of thing...God didn't "call me"...I am serving God in my own way...I have plans to get more involved at a later stage in life...etc.
In our church planting training we seldom have any conflicts over the validity of the kinds of materials we are teaching (prayer, serving others, evangelism, follow-up, baptism, discipleship, and church planting). Where the two worlds collide is when those being trained are expected to DO what they have been taught! Carrying out the vision of what Christ actually says in the Great Commission is something that few are willing to take on seriously.
Most of the traditional churches we relate to simply cannot get past the issue of having to live their Christianity outside of the four walls of the church building. I know this sounds like an unfair accusation. But to prove my point just ask yourself these questions:
1) Am I really personally involved in taking the Gospel out of the four walls of our church building?
2) Am I really making true reproducing disciples?
3) How many new believers have I lately been responsible for baptizing?
4) Can I name any new disciples whom I am personally teaching to be obedient followers to all Christ commands?
The answer for most of us is NO or NONE! It is much easier and more convenient to just "go to church."
So, how do we get the two visions aligned? What will it take for us to swap a "going to church" vision, for a Great Commission vision?
I struggle a lot with this, but here are some of my evolving thoughts in progress...
1) The key is NOT so much trying to reform believers who have spent years in traditional church settings. These attempts will usually lead to frustration. The real key is starting with the NEW BELIEVERS who are being won and discipled. They are the future, not those sitting in church pews.
2) Spend 80% of time, energy and attention on the 20% who "get it" and are doing their best to be obedient to what Christ commanded. Spend 20% of our time, energy and attention on the 80% who are content to just come to church.
3) Along the same lines of the four questions above, ask believers to share about a person they are currently discipling. Ask about how many people they are currently praying for salvation. Go around the room and ask for recent witnessing encounters they have participated in of any kind where they sought to share Christ with someone who is not yet a believer. If we are not doing so, why not? What are the obstacles? What can be done to get back on track?
We can "talk the talk" all we want, but few of us actually "walk the walk" and DO what Christ said. There is a conflict of visions in the Church today.
What are some of your thoughts on the conflicting visions that exist within Christianity today?