Wednesday, January 7

Conflicting visions

There seem to be at least two visions that compete for believer's loyalty: 1) the established churches with their structures, programs, and leadership; and 2) the Biblical imperative of Christ to make disciples of the nations. Two worlds colliding.

Maybe to some they are one and the same, but my experience is they are two different Kingdom cultures. Sure there is overlap between them, but still distinct world views. We SAY that our churches are about reaching the lost, but when it comes right down to it, the "churchianity" vision seems to be to get people to GO TO CHURCH. Christ's mandate and vision is that His Church GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES of the nations.

We live within both worlds, but are clearly focused on the latter. One of my frustrations as a missionary is that most believers seem 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, events and ministries offered by the church. Some might call it a "consumer" mentality. We consume what has been prepared for us in the hopes that somehow all this will result in advancing God's Kingdom here on earth.

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 kinds of things we teach: prayer, serving others, evangelism, follow-up, baptism, discipleship, church planting, etc. Where the two worlds collide is when people are expected to IMPLEMENT what has been taught! Carrying out the vision of what Christ actually says in the Great Commission is something few seem to take 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 might sound a bit unfair. But to prove my point, how would each of us personally answer these questions:

1) How am I 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 trying to reform believers who have spent years in traditional church settings. We already KNOW these things, but have long chosen a different path in our walk with the Lord. Any attempts to change the status quo usually leads to frustration. The real key is focusing on NEW BELIEVERS. They are the future, not those of us content to sit 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, create environments where believers are encouraged to share with one another about the people they are currently praying for, witnessing to, or actually discipling. This should be the norm, not the exception. If we are not doing so, why not? What are the obstacles? What can be done to get back on track?

4) Less on church activities, and more on actual ministry engagements. As Neil Cole says, "We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple."

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?

10 comments:

Dion said...

Guy,
Thank you so much for this post. It pretty much articulates what Naty and I have been going through and feeling for the past month or so. We are realizing that even though we are doing house churches we still aren't focused enough on making disciples. Church is NOT to point, disciples are! We are so skewed in our praxis! Anyway, I wrote a bit more about our personal application of these ideas on my blog, check it out and let me know your thoughts if you have a chance. BTW are you back south of the Equator yet? I hope all is well for you and yours.
Dion

Dan said...

Guy,
I'm humbled and embarrassed by your post. I don't even know what to do now that I feel this way. I've only led one person to Christ in the last few years, and only spoken with a few more. To call myself a discipler of this young man would be a joke as well.
I've got to clean up my language (my seemingly permanent defect) and start talking about Christ more. I wish it didn't feel like such a losing battle with my flesh.
Thanks for the post.

GuyMuse said...

Dion,

Your own blog post goes right along with what I am trying to share. I hope others read it as well, and want to encourage you to follow through with the applications you guys are feeling led of the Lord to do in making some changes. I think you are on track! We are still Stateside, but hope to return to Ecuador later this month. Thanks for asking.

Dan,

Glad to have you stop by the M Blog, and thanks for your comments. What you share you struggle with in the flesh, is certainly common to most of us. What disturbs me, though, is that so many do not even realize they are falling away into thinking they are true disciples of Christ, and yet are ignoring some of the most basic commands that Jesus gave us by excusing them away. I too see myself in the camp of those who "talk" more than they "walk". God help us all!

GuyMuse said...

Dion,

Your own blog post goes right along with what I am trying to share. I hope others read it as well, and want to encourage you to follow through with the applications you guys are feeling led of the Lord to do in making some changes. I think you are on track! We are still Stateside, but hope to return to Ecuador later this month. Thanks for asking.

Dan,

Glad to have you stop by the M Blog, and thanks for your comments. What you share you struggle with in the flesh, is certainly common to most of us. What disturbs me, though, is that so many do not even realize they are falling away into thinking they are true disciples of Christ, and yet are ignoring some of the most basic commands that Jesus gave us by excusing them away. I too see myself in the camp of those who "talk" more than they "walk". God help us all!

Dan said...

Guy,
If I could only save souls with my talk instead of my walk, heaven would be full. My flesh is strong. It's so hard to imagine that I've been saved since my teenage years, and grew up in church, and yet my flesh is more powerful than my spirit.
Ugh.

El Perro said...

Guy:
Leo tus palabras y encuentro una verdad poco expuesta desde nuestros púlpitos...
Me recordaste la vieja "parábola urbana" del club de pescadores que solo hablaban de como pescar, pero nunca iban al río...
Que el Señor nos inste a "hablar" menos y "caminar" más!

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GuyMuse said...

Dan,

Instead of focusing upon how strong your flesh might be, one idea would be to begin praying today for three lost family members, friends, co-workers. Ask the HS to open their hearts and seek ways to begin to love and serve these three you are praying for. When the Lord begins to open doors into their hearts, share with them what Jesus has done for you. Let the Spirit lead you from that point on.

GuyMuse said...

El Perro,

Excelente lo de la parábola del club de pescadores que solo hablaban de como pescar, pero nunca iban al río... Esta es una buena ilustracion de lo que intentamos compartir. Hay que ir al rio!

Dan said...

Guy,
Thank you so much for that practical advice. I keep thinking that I have to always be "doing" something or it's not really evangelism. It's nice to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is what enables these things to happen. Thank you!