Don’t you sometimes wish that Christians would just shut up?

That’s pretty much the conclusion that I came to a long time ago, especially since so many of “our spokesmen” seem to say such silliness in the name of Jesus (and hey, since Jesus said, our spokesmen can’t possibly be argued with). It’s just got me thinking about what church is and what we should be about. Plus, we just talked about this recently. We’ve gotten the idea of what church is confused with the building that we meet in. Church is to come together as a corporate group to be transformed. To learn in community.

The typical foundation for what church has become is all about the Sunday (Saturday for our Seventh Day Adventist brothers and sisters) worship service. Look at our language, we go to the Sunday service, as in, we go to get served (or “fed” in Christianese). We as attenders and church staff focus most of our energy, effort, and resources into the weekend program and we call that our church experience. The staff and ministry teams do the work of service and our participation is in singing and then listening to the message. Everything else we do (small groups, outreach, missions or supplemental programs) are special events that spring from the weekend service.

We’ve gone from being a church to going to church. The model we usually operate under, for all intents and purpose driven lives, looks like this: I make sure my butt gets into heaven, join a church, and maybe that can impact the world. Churches have become so inward focused. Missions becomes a piece of the pie, another program we have the option of giving to or participating in, instead of the whole pie. That has led to the church becoming maintenance people, museum curators of all this precious history that has little connection to our day to day lives.

However, we, the church, should always have a missionary posture. Where the people realize that they are church through the week who gather together for corporate worship on the weekend. Where each member contributes to the mission of the church. This not-so-novel idea led to revisiting the idea of a missional church.

The term “missional church” was coined by the Gospel and Our Culture Network in the 90s.* Basically, the church is seen as a group of people on a mission in our current context (which then naturally lends itself to culturally appropriate evangelism, but that’s another rant sometime). The church is a reproducing community (as opposed to an empire or fortress building community) of authentic disciples who are being equipped as missionaries to be sent out by God. We listen to the questions asked by our community and dialogue over those questions. We don’t force questions that we think our community “should” be asking and provide those answers. That’s not real helpful.

The missional model would look something like this: God has Good News (that His Kingdom is at hand) meant for the world, He has chosen to use the church in order to share it, I am invited to be a part of it. We make disciples instead of making Christians and then discipling them (to create what? Super-Christians?).

As Christians, we have our identity in Christ. We find our mission in Christ. Missional people might not spend as much time at church because their whole lives are missions. We are all missionaries in the context of our social connections, called to love and serve the world. Some people may ask why we do what we do, and though we may share why, even if they don’t, our mission doesn’t change. Evangelism isn’t separated from social action. I’m going to serve because I’m called to serve, not in order to “trick” you into asking about my faith so that I can make my Jesus sales pitch.

We’ve gotten away from the idea of church being a hospital for broken people. These days, many of us feel more comfortable walking into a bar than into a church. Which is why I propose that we work on our own hearts and minds and shut up. We love other people and serve them as our evangelism, using our “talking time” to “do”. We need to get out of our Christian ghettos and into our neighborhoods and social networks. It’s about living in unity with the King, joining Jesus in what He’s already doing.

[*A quick summary of their thesis goes like this: The church is missional, not by its sending out of missionary ventures but by its life as a community sent by God into its place in the world. The church’s origin is in the gospel of the reign of God which Jesus preached and established gives shape to the church’s missional identity as representing the reign of God as its community (koinonia), its servant (diakonia) and its messenger (kerygma). The missional church lives an alternative vision in the midst of the “powers” constituted by its surrounding society’s culture and socio-political, economic structures. Churches participate in the community-forming work of the Holy Spirit by cultivating in their life together those ecclesial-missional practices implicated by the gospel of Christ. All local Christian communities are intimately bound in a “community of communities” with all others, in a global church which is apostolic, catholic, holy and one.]