Monday, May 21, 2012

Is Your Church Old Testament?

Watch this video:

It occurs to me that the difference between an “attractional” church and a “missional” church is the same as the difference between an Old Testament view of mission and a New Testament view of mission.  This is not to say that one is wrong and the other is correct.  It is simply to say that one is past and the other is present. 

Before Christ the place to find the presence of God was found almost exclusively in the temple.  If you desired an experience with God then you had to “come and see”.  The primary mission of Israel was to draw people to Zion.  Micah 4:2 is a great description of the attractional hope of Israel:

and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

In the New Testament, however, the presence of God is no longer mostly confined to a temple.  The Spirit of God indwells believers.  The church--the community of blood-bought redeemed sinners--is now the dwelling place of God.  Therefore, the missional imperative has changed.  It is no longer “come and see” as much as it is “go and tell”.  People do not need a building to experience the presence of God, they need Spirit-indwelt believers proclaiming the Spirit-empowered message of the Kingdom. 

Questions change

This is not to say that those who have a more attractional model do not care about souls.  Most churches would be nervously and excitedly welcoming to “them” coming to church.  In fact that is what most churches are aiming for:   they want to reach “them”, whoever “them” is. 

And so the questions that you ask with an Old Testament mindset are centered around what we can do to attract them.  When the church begins to decline or not grow as desired you begin asking questions of your programs, building, preachers, etc. under the framework of whether or not they are attracting and keeping members and reaching them.  Success is measured by whether or not people are coming to church because that is the means that we use for them to see God at work and hopefully come to a knowledge of Christ.

These questions change in the New Testament.  As your read through Acts and consider Paul’s missionary journeys you will be hard pressed to find examples of the early disciples trying to figure out how to get people to come to them.  They were mostly concerned with how to get the message to them.  And this is the fundamental difference between an OT “church” and a NT church:

OT: How do we get them to come to us?
NT: How do we get us to go to them?
       How do we go to them?

Changing that question will change the way that your church thinks about missions and reaching people that do not know Christ.  And it also identifies whether or not you fundamentally think like an OT “church” or a NT church. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...