My mission board, which I love, is energized. Zealous to plant churches. Hundreds. Thousands.
I cringe when the well-intentioned talk sounds too much like denominational franchising. But at the end of the day, that isn't my largest concern. I am encouraged that people like me (and people far better than me) are intentionally given seats at the table -- even prominent seats. When my leaders invite my critiques and the critiques of many of my wiser colleagues, I am given hope. They want the accountability. They sincerely desire to advance the gospel and not just the Southern Baptist Convention.
So that's good.
But on a deeper level, I am concerned about the passion to just plant churches. In Chicagoland, the zip code with the highest number of churches per capita is also the one with the highest crime rate. However you interpret that (i.e. there is more crime there or perhaps there is something wrong with the way the justice system works there), the point is made. We don't simply need more churches. We need the Kingdom of God.
So, I have been listening carefully to what my friend, Andrew Jones, has been saying. He's a hippy who actually lives in a yurt. So there's that. And I just saw Titanic for the first time a couple weeks ago, so I have a tendency to feel more comfortable on the anti-bandwagon bandwagon. So, I don't think I'm reading Andrew because he is cool. He is cool. And that's kind of intimidating for someone who still thinks that clothing from the eighties is better off left there.
But I digress. Sorry, haven't blogged since Easter and am still shaking the cobwebs off.
Mission strategies -- even sweeping church planting strategies -- must account for the brokenness of the world. That is, if the multiplication of churches does not mean the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel as good news where people need it most, then, well, perhaps God won't bless it.
So, a while back, Andrew posted this article about a community of Balinese ex-prostitutes who are finding new life in Christ. A quote:
Like the young ladies who have been cooking breakfast for us each morning, without complaint. Shining brightly as God's new people. They still have HIV but they are cleaner than anyone around them. They shine. They are new creations. They are the children of God. According tothe Bali Times, one quarter of Bali's 8,800 sex workers are HIV+. The other major HIV+ group in Bali is the businessmen who visit the prostitutes . . . and their wives. Add to that group the HIV+ drug addicts and you have a sizable group of people who need the grace of God.
And I'm just thinking that if our mission strategies don't include that kind of "bringing the Kingdom to bear", then I am not sure they are really from God. I'm not saying that they will necessarily be from Satan. They may indeed be derived from insights gleaned from the Bible and good traditions. But we may not be able to confidently say, "This is what God is saying to us!"
Let's be thinking about it. More to come.