Four Missional Movements for the Suburban Church
At The Well, we’ve been studying the book of Acts. Its been a very, very formative and challenging book for us to work through. For me, there have been four ways that my life, and I think our life, has been challenged so far.
Here are four movements that I’ve seen:
From Individual to Communal
As individuals we are important, very, very important. But we need to continually celebrate the individual but we must do it within the context of community. Our world is so individualized that we’ve lost a sense that there is something greater than ourselves. In our culture, this is a challenge because we are so good at isolating ourselves and disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world. Our priorities can easily become very selfish and insulated.
From Consumptive to Cooperative
When you live in a world that holds individualism as a god you naturally going to find that consuming is a higher priority than cooperative. If the most important thing is me, than I am going to do my best to take care of me. But, if the most important thing is me, in the context of community than we can start thinking about cooperation together for a common goal.
Event to Family
We need to rethink our definition of “church.” When we come to “church” as an individual who is primarily a consumer we begin to view church as an “event” where we can consume spirituality or religion to meet our own personal needs. The alternative here is to move from church as event to church as family. When we approach “church” as individuals in a community where we are cooperating together for a common goal its almost impossible to think of church as an event. Instead a better metaphor for church, as we have talked about at The Well a lot recently, is “family.” A family cooperating together to care together for the individual needs, all for a common goal.
From Sucking in to Sending out
The idea of a common goal then leads us to the final movement. The challenge of the family metaphor in the church setting is to not become all cliquish and even worse cultish. But, when you take a group of individuals, who are here to consume and think of the “church” as a event, you end up with a “church” that is sucking in rather than sending out. We’re all drawn into a Sunday event and leave behind our primary mission field. But, when we view the “church” as a community that is dependent on each other and cooperates together, it is not naturally seen as something that sucks in but instead sends out.
Refread Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This is the mission that drives the early church (and should drive our churches as well!).
This cannot be done if the church is an random collection of individuals who are coming to an event to consume christianity. But, this mission can be accomplished if “church is defined as a family that cooperates together for a greater purpose.