Last week, I asked the question: is the church obsolete? If you didn’t read it, I hope you can deduce from my previous posts that I don’t think the church is obsolete. But there is a big gap for some churches in their ability to reach people in 2018 while faithfully upholding the mission of the church.
We left off here…The big thing about a movement is that it has to move. It must be mobile, vibrant, alive. When church digresses to a building, or a stagnant body of believers, it really ceases to be the church. Ekklesia is in the movement, the gathering, the worshipping. Church is the fully alive body living and acting in a broken world that seeks wholeness.
Church is a movement with a mission. Last week I talked about the movement. But the movement is pointless without a mission. It is like a boat floating out in the sea without a destination it is aiming towards.
Jesus was a radical. He taught about a spirituality that was outside of the norm of religious thought for the time. He started a movement that changed history. He believed in God’s reconciling work wholeheartedly. In fact he was convicted and sentenced to die a criminal’s death so that those who believe that he is the Messiah might be reconciled to God, even though they are broken components of a messed up world. The mission of the church, therefore, is to continue the movement that Jesus started—the work of proclaiming God’s once-for-all reconciling act in Jesus’ death.
It is pretty clear that we are sent by Jesus to proclaim the good news, the Gospel, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and that that matters because it means that we can have a life-changing relationship with Jesus, and so can anyone who accepts Him as Lord.
We see this in the Great commission (Matthew 28). We see this in Jesus calling Peter to feed his sheep, the lost sheep of Israel. We see this in the book of Matthew, where Jesus says, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” The mission of the church is to share the reconciling work that God started in Jesus with the whole world! This necessarily means that we share the reconciling work of God with those who are not yet reconciled to God.
If we go to church every Sunday with only other believers, but never branch out to those who haven’t heard the news, we aren’t fulfilling our call to be the church. The church can’t exist solely for those within it, but must exist for those outside of it in order to fulfill the mission to which we are called.
As believers, we gather on Sundays to pray together, to build each other up, to worship, to learn in discipleship, and then we go out into the world in order to be part of the mission of the church.
So what does this matter to the church today? It matters because the church was never designed to be just a stagnant institution run by imperfect humans…the ekklesia of Jesus was always meant to be a gathered community run by power of the holy Spirit, the supremacy of God, and the love of Christ Jesus.
Andy Stanley says, “The kirche of man could not contain the ekklesia of Jesus.”
If the church wants to avoid becoming obsolete, it must continue to move and continue to follow the mission to which it is called.
When we live like we are the ekklesia of Christ, a movement with a mission, we commit ourselves to prayer, because prayer is our communication line with God leading us in every step we take.
When we live like the ekklesia of Christ, a movement with a mission, we commit our own wills to the Lord, submitting our preferences, our likes and dislikes, even our calls to the will of God.
When we live like the ekklesia of Christ, a movement with a mission, we commit to change…not to become more and more like the world, but to become more and more like Jesus Himself, who laid down his very life for the sake of the world…for the sake of broken people like us.