Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does Church Attendance = Transformation?

2 Corinthians 3: 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

This passage is placed in a section that some refer to as "Ministers of a New Covenant."  In other words, those of us who have had our lives changed by Jesus and are in a community where we can grow to be more like him, are supposed to be changing to such a degree that we actually carry out the ongoing work of Jesus in our world.  But is that really happening?

The Barna Group has released a new study saying the answer is "no" for a plurality of us.  Forty-six percent of Americans who attend church say that attending church has no effect on their daily lives. 

As the planter of a new church start, this is concerning to me.  But the answer to "why?" is really not that elusive.  Those who are part of our launch team have heard me share that the church is an institution that exists not primarily for the benefit of its members, but for the benefit of others - particularly those who do not yet know Jesus. 

Oddly enough, when a church begins to exist for the benefit of its members, all real, significant, meaningful and life-transforming benefit disappears.  But when those in the church see themselves as being in mission to others and structuring their church to connect irreligious and spiritually curious people to God in Christ, then transformation occurs. 

Of course, care for members is important.  But if one's church is dialed in to its Christ-given  mission to go and make disciples of all the nations, then caring for members means giving them opportunities to do what God has called them to do, and to equip and care for them in preparation for, and the carrying out of that mission.  But it's all about the mission.

A church that exists for the benefit of its members when there is no significant, over-arching connection of that benefit to the larger mission, is in fact self-serving and quite honestly (avert sensitive eyes here, because I am about to use a profanity to the mind of some) sin!

May you be part of the movement to grow healthy churches where transformation is commonplace.  May you, as you participate in such a church have your own life transformed.  And may all of us who name the name of Jesus, build churches that honor not only the name, but live out the mission with a relentless focus and passion.  

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