“Change the World”

As I wrote here and here, Mike Slaughter (chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church) was the guest speaker at the Bishop’s Clergy Retreat in Lancaster, PA, a couple of weeks ago. Mike’s topic was the same as his recent book, Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus.

I enjoyed reading the book in the days leading up to the retreat. Here are some of my highlights …

Many people in our churches today profess faith in God, but they embody the values of the dominant culture. (16)

To Jesus, the church was an active verb and not a passive noun. His followers practiced mission evangelism. They understood that the mission was not to get the world into the church but to get the church into the world. (17)

Those of us in the church have been guilty of creating a gospel that is self-serving and other-judging. We spend our resources and energies on building structures and creating programs for ourselves, and then call it mission! (22)

On the early church …

It was driven by a passionate belief that a revolutionary leader had come to establish a countercultural kingdom on earth. The early followers of this movement believed that the way of this Messiah-King was not just one alternative way among many but God’s true way. For these first Christians the kingdom of God was not a disembodied heaven after death but a ‘coming’ new way of living on earth. They were committed to being Christ’s body of transformation for a hurting, needy world. (51)

Disciple making is the business of the church! It is easy to forget our commission and to substitute church building for disciple building. (55)

At the retreat, Mike kept reminding us, “Movements are made in a lifetime, not in a moment.” In the book, he says …

… change is incremental and exponential. Fruitfulness is the consequence of obedient persistence in the same direction for the duration of a lifetime. (93)

Mike discusses the ongoing struggle between “mortar” (buildings) and “mission” (ministry). At one point, he writes …

But in light of the gospel mandate that directs the church to meet the urgent needs of the least and the lost, escalating utility costs, and the global economic crisis, churches must find creative ways to minimize brick and maximize mission. (96).

When I interviewed Mike and a couple staff members for my dissertation research in 2007, “Minimize brick, maximize ministry” was a common phrase I heard. And that was a few months before the economic collapse!

Architecture and space are irrelevant to Christian community and calling (96) … Buildings are not sacred—people are sacred! We need to let go of buildings and invest in the world God loves and for whom Jesus died. (97).

The leader of the missional church is committed to make sure that ministry and mission are not sacrificed on the altar of mortar. (104)

The last chapter is about courage. Mike writes …

At the heart of every decision we make about the future and purpose of the church is a choice between courage and compliance. (111)

Faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is feeling the fear and then acting on the promises and purposes of God anyway. (114)

God never intended for people to sit around and wait for heaven. Jesus calls us from our complacency and places of comfort to go into all the world and make disciples. (118)

Leaders, of course, play a key role in keeping churches on task. Mike gives this advice to missional leaders …

Ultimately, you must be a confident and courageous leader who says and does the hard things to ensure the success of the mission. (122)

The book concludes with this thought …

You and I are called to be part of a world-changing, Spirit-empowered ‘hell can’t prevail’ community of action. The outcome will not be determined by the size of your congregation or the abundance of your resources—only your willingness to leave the safety of your life raft and the compliance of those who choose to remain on it. (124)

Good stuff!

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