Back in the spring I was privileged to spend a day attending a seminar on the missional church. I was reviewing some of my notes this week from that conference and ran across a few things that I found to be particularly insightful. I toss out these tidbits of information for your reflection.
Challenging us not to be so dogmatic in our approach to ministry, the leader shared a quote from Anne Lamott’s book, Plan B. She writes that, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty! Faith notices the mess and discomfort. … Certainty misses the point entirely!” He then went on to share an interesting prayer: “Lord, help me to remember that all the truth I know is not all the truth.” I couldn’t help but think about some of the comments I read on blogs by those who are absolutely certain that they possess the only possible correct biblical interpretation on some thorny issues that other believers who are equally committed to the truth and authority of the Scriptures see in a quite different light.
Another very sobering statement that the conference leader made was this: “The church is becoming what the church staff is.” Like it or not, I think his affirmation is largely correct. A church will almost invariably take on the personality and priorities of its leadership. If we wish to criticize the church we serve for its many weaknesses and shortcomings, a good place to begin that critique is by looking in the mirror and asking how many of those debilities are a by-product of our own leadership.
In terms of outreach and attracting new visitors, the leader said this: “People go where they’ve been prepared for and are cared for.” Clearly we need to communicate to guests and visitors that we’ve taken into account their needs by doing the advance preparation necessary to make their visit as non-threatening and comfortable as possible. We also must leave no doubt that we love them and will do everything within our power to care for and meet their needs.
I’ve got some more ideas to share about the missional journey—moving from program-based to a missional mindset, but I’m saving those for a future post.