Friday, 31 July 2009

Building Missionary Churches 2 - It's about the church!

The prophetic burden of Restoration includes rediscovering the missionary zeal of the New Testament in everyday church life, or as the prophet Isaiah says, “It is too small a thing for you to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Restoration is more than a quality of church life; its ultimate purpose is to build churches that take the gospel into the local community and to the ends of the earth.

Out of my passion to build mission-focused communities has grown a deep concern about the separation of what I see as normal church life and mission. My concern relates to so called para-church organisations – mission-focused organisations disconnected from church life. I honestly believe that these organisations are set up with a desire to reach people for Christ, but while in the short/mid term they see real evangelistic fruit, in the end they continue to propagate weak missional churches.

How can this be so? Let me explain. Some of the most gifted, mission-focused leaders leave the local church to join a mission-focused para-church organisation, which consequently pushes the church into a more pastoral mode. The church wants to identify with the individual on mission out of friendship and a genuine heart for mission, so it funds the para-church activity, thereby reducing the inward investment in the local church. Then, when such an organisation turns up in town to do a mission and people are saved, where do they end up? Often in an under-resourced, pastorally-focused community.