In my last post, I gave you the following quote from an individual whose identity I did not reveal at that time.
These problems, and the answers, are not new. But the way we intend to tackle them using the small groups of local churches in large numbers is revolutionary.
The bottom line is that we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century. This will be a new Reformation. The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church. It was a reformation of doctrine – what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose- what the church DOES in the world.
In the first century, mission strategy was always congregationally based. The first missionaries were sent, supported, and accountable to local churches. The church at Antioch was the first to do this. There were no mission societies, mission boards, or parachurch organizations. Local churches accepted the responsibility for Jesus’ Great Commission and his Great Commandment, and the growth of the church worldwide was explosive.
Today, most local churches are sidelined and uninvolved when it comes to missions. The message from most mission and parachurch organizations to the local church is essentially “Pray, pay, and get out of the way.” But in the 21st century . . . [We] intend to help thousands of other local churches move back to the frontline in missions, in compassion, and in providing the social services that historically the church provided. I believe the proper role for all the great parachurch and relief organizations is to serve local churches in a supportive role, offering their expertise and knowledge, but allowing the local churches around the world to be central focus and the distribution centers.
I deeply believe that any organization that marginalized or minimizes the local congregation’s responsibility to “Go”, or bypasses the local church’s moral authority to fulfill the Great Commission, is out of sync with the strategy God intended, and modeled in the book of Acts.
Rick Warren said that as he described the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, the specific quote is available here. After the above quote Warren goes on to say, “We intend to leverage the attention that the Purpose Driven Life has garnered to bring about a whole new way of thinking and acting in the church about our responsibility in the world. This is a stewardship we must be faithful to fulfill- with humility, generosity, and integrity.”
I think he has spoken with profound insight. These parachurch organizations and mission societies/boards are, as he puts it, “out of sync with the strategy God intended.” They are robbing the church of her responsibility. Local churches must fulfill their responsibility and bearing the burden of fulfilling the Great Commission. As a Southern Baptist, I am familiar with the structures within the Southern Baptist Convention and the typical mindset of “We gave to the cooperative program and are therefore fulfilling our responsibility to ‘go make disciples’” just does not cut it. That is an unacceptable and unbiblical attitude.
Such a strategy also necessitates that churches be involved in the task of raising up, sending out, and empowering their best leaders. The typical corporate ladder mindset of most American pastors is horrifically unbiblical. Rather than our most skilled pastors continually seeking bigger churches and higher salaries, which is often a detriment to those churches, these pastors should employ their skill where it is needed most, the hard places and pioneer areas. Sadly, I do not expect this to be the case as most pastors in America are more concerned with building their empire than God’s kingdom.
What do you all think? Has the church lost her mission? Do we need a second reformation that recovers what the church does? Before we can do that I think we need a second reformation that recovers what the church is, but that is for another post.