Letters to the Church: A Vision Has to Move


Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,

Twenty-four years ago this month, I was able to fulfill a bucket list dream of mine and see a Space Shuttle launch. It was an incredible experience! But there would have been no launch for me to see without someone having a vision for manned space flight and countless men and women working together to make that launch happen. Vision brings into reality things which do not yet exist.

Movement by spacex-Ptd-iTdrCJM-unsplash
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Jesus’ vision for His church is that it would be a disciple-making factory. His visionary words to us are: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, …” (Mt. 28:18-19) In this mid-week message, I want to focus on a single word: Go!

For centuries, since the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire in 313 AD, the Christian Church in the western world has functioned at the center of the culture with the support of the government. Christians were able to build churches and people would come. The church was the place to be if you wanted to network for business and have your children become good, upstanding citizens. We became accustomed to staying still and having people come to us to be made into disciples.

But all that has changed now. The church is no longer at the center of society, it is no longer a cultural value for people to be part of a church, and some even see the church as immoral for her positions on issues like human sexuality. We cannot stay in one place and expect people to come to us. We have to go back to what Jesus said and “Go!”

Imagine that the institutional church is like a large desktop computer and we believe that it is the only place where God’s Mission can happen. Then someone comes along and smashes our desktop computer and it looks like all is lost. But we can take the software from that computer and adapt it so that it can go on our cell phones and anyone can take it anywhere. That’s what we need to do with the Mission of God. We need to make it portable so that it can go with any follower of Jesus everywhere they go. Truth be told, God’s Mission always was portable. That’s how Jesus made disciples. We can do the same.

All this talk of change may seem very scary, but this really is nothing new for our church. Though different words were used then, right from the beginning the vision of our church has been to transform lives by embracing new ways to reach new people for God’s Kingdom. With God’s Spirit encouraging us to dream new dreams of how to make that happen, I am confident that God will lead us into a future where our church, and the people we serve, will flourish in His love. It will be the same, but different, and because of Jesus, it will be good.

Dear Jesus, give us eyes to see the vision that You have for each of us individually and for us as Your church. Give us courage to follow You into the wonderful adventures You have prepared in advance for us to enjoy. Amen.

In Christ’s love,

James

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