This week, I met for the first time with my lay advisory committee to begin planning for my professional project. It was really kind of a fun meeting. I mean, it's going to be work, but I think I will really enjoy planning a ministry with a group. That's one thing I miss sometimes...when I worked for the State, I always had co-workers. I could pop in their offices at any time to get advice or to plan or to just visit. It's not that way as a solo pastor. It can be a lonely thing, so I'm looking forward to working with a group to do a little ministry planning and then implementing it during Lent of next year.
That has led me to think a lot lately about our church and our strengths and our areas for new ministry. (That's what the project is supposed to address). But, it has also led me to thinking about the nature of church. One term that we have used a lot in school is "missional." By "missional," they mean "sent." So, the church is located in a particular community and should learn its community just like a missionary going into another country. One author says, "The church should stop mimicking the surrounding culture and become an alternative community, with a different set of beliefs, values and behaviors. Ministers would no longer engage in marketing; churches would no longer place primary emphasis on programs to serve members. The traditional ways of evaluating 'successful churches' – bigger buildings, more people, bigger budgets, larger ministerial staff, new and more programs to serve members – would be rejected. New yardsticks would be the norm: To what extent is our church a 'sent' community in which each believer is reaching out to his community? To what extent is our church impacting the community with a Christian message that challenges the values of our secular society?"
Those are great questions. Do Christians really consider themselves not only God's people, but SENT people? Do we search for the places where God is already at work and try to join God there? Do we put our energy and time into reaching into the world with God's love? If not, why?
Lots of stuff to think about...maybe that will translate into lots of stuff to blog about. This I know, the world is changing - and the church is called to serve as the Body of Christ through it all...so, where do we start?