Witness Beyond the Familiar (Part 1)
Being a leader in the church today requires a new imagination for what the church looks like and acts like … Can I get an Amen! Today’s complex and non-linear culture yields a multitude of new expressions of the Body of Christ living out the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The church can no longer rely on a single mode of delivery – namely the attractional-model local church. It must diversify in order to be relevant in the current landscape. Remember that TV commercial from years ago where the boss starts handing out tickets to the employees and telling them they need to re-connect with their customers. We need to re-connect and introduce a hurting world to the love, grace, mercy, justice, hope, and joy found in Jesus Christ.
We need to take notice of the ways God is already at work through the diverse expressions of Christian witness and faithful communities connecting and forming disciples who are impacting the world. This kind of transformation requires a different kind of church and a different kind of leadership. The question today is not only, “How do existing churches increase vitality so that more people want to affiliate?” It’s also, “Does the church understand its mission field, and is it willing to direct its resources in new and innovative ways to transform lives and communities of those not likely to attend a traditional church?” Some have labeled the spiritual landscape of today as a mixed ecology. The church with a full calendar of programs, numerous worship services, established Sunday School classes, and non-stop committee meetings may be busy; but if it’s not reimagining itself, it’s facing irrelevancy in this new landscape.
So, how do we stack up in the Alexandria District – Are we relevant in this new landscape of mixed ecology? Are we ready to go out and re-connect with our community customers? Some of you have expressed reservations about our mixed ecology of faith communities – online campuses, pub theology, restaurant church, home church, fresh expressions, pop-up church (in the park, at the gym, etc.). However, these churches/faith communities excel in partnering with the community for the sake of transforming lives and conditions. They tend to have excellent worship experiences, meaningful small group engagements, and significant investment in the community. Their leaders are courageous, creative, self-aware, collaborative, and innovative. Are you up for being a leader in the church today?
Next month in Part 2, I’ll continue to analyze (and ask the hard questions) based on an excellent article from the Texas Methodist Foundation.
John Meeuwissen, Lay Leader