Doing it like Jesus
The church is growing. Souls are being saved, lives are being changed and God is being glorified. The facts speak for themselves. In poverty-stricken, war-torn third world nations, the gospel is being proclaimed and souls are being saved. Praise the Lord! Too bad it isn’t happening in Europe, the United States, Australia and other “first world” nations.
In these areas, it is not so easy to reach people. It requires something different than what we’ve been doing. “Missional” is the new catch-phrase. We are talking about the necessity of “becoming missional” in order to reach modern, well-off, comfortable Americans, Europeans and Australians. I just finished reading a series of articles on being “missional.” One writer proposed the following:
The thesis I would like to propose is that at its most basic level, a missional hermeneutic is concerned primarily with the articulation of questions–questions that we ask of the text–and more importantly, questions that the text may ask of us. A missional hermeneutic should not be characterized primarily by methodology per se–that is, as something akin to, albeit an improvement on–traditional form-, redaction-, or narrative-critical approaches to the Bible. Rather, in my estimation, a viable missional approach to Scripture will involve asking missional questions–fundamentally, questions about purpose–God’s and ours.
Since I understand some “academese,” allow me to interpret. He says, “We Christians should ask ourselves the question, “What does God say we should do?” Then, without getting fouled-up in methods, we should just do what God says.” Simple enough?
I may be guilty of over-simplification but it seems to me that, as the people of God, we would fulfill our mission if we simply learn what Jesus did and do likewise.
The point needs to be made: this is not anything close to complicated or academic. It doesn’t take a theologian trained in missiology to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Go, preach, make disciples, baptize them and teach them.” Here’s the point: we’re not failing to fulfill the Great Commission because we don’t understand it…we’re failing because we don’t want to do it. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s expensive. Can’t we just all “go to church” and get along?
The answer is no. We can’t. Consider all the stuff we’re doing now: hiring preachers (and staff for every imaginable purpose), constructing church buildings, university buildings, schools, hospitals, gymnasiums (a gym by any other name still smells the same), “attending services” (the list goes on). While these may be beneficial on some level, they’re really distractions from the main job Jesus gave us to do. We tend to forget that Jesus and His apostles did none of these things.
Can a hospital, school or gymnasium be used for evangelism? Certainly. But do we really use them for evangelism? I personally know of two instances where the idea of building an expensive, well-appointed gymnasium was sold to the congregation as a means of outreach. As far as I am aware, in neither case has even one conversion resulted from their construction. Who are we kidding?
If we build a gymnasium that has so many rules and regulations that you need a lawyer to schedule its use six months in advance, is that an outreach?
If we build a school that no one can attend unless their parents are wealthy or they get a scholarship or incur life-long debt, is that evangelism?
If we build a hospital that excludes or expels those without adequate insurance or an auto-maker executive’s salary, is that an evangelistic tool?
If we build a building that lost, broken and marginal people feel uncomfortable to enter, is that going to reach the thousands living around it?
So, how’s all that working for us? Let’s take a moment to get honest. Let’s admit that we are doing a lousy job of fulfilling the great commission because we are too busy not fulfilling it.
The Jesus Method means doing what Jesus did. It means doing things as Jesus did them.
Next time: What Is the Jesus Method?