I wish I wrote this...
“Taking Heat” written by Erwin Raphael McManus
One of the most curious things I have experienced about the church in the U.S. is the reaction that becoming a truly missional community has on most churches and perhaps especially vanguard theologians. One of the surest ways of becoming suspect to mainline evangelicalism is to actually reorient the church around the mission of Christ.
The first core value of the Mosaic Alliance is “Mission is why the Church exists.” When you throw into the mix that we are focusing on reaching those who are farthest from the gospel (and therefore from Christian culture) then things start getting really interesting.
The challenge of course is that we far too often confuse approach with orthodoxy. It only feels biblical if we do it the way we have always done it. We create our own rituals that confirm our orthodoxy and that becomes the measure by which we judge everyone else’s work.
For some reason it is easier for us to be more open when it is a missionary in a far away country. When our friends from Mississippi move to an unnamed city in the Middle East or in Asia we get it. They have to learn a new language, they begin to dress differently, and they begin to learn the culture.
They also begin to look for connecting points between the religion and beliefs of their people group and the truth of the Scripture. They start with where the people are and slowly begin to build trust and confidence so that those they are burdened for might become open to the Scriptures and the gospel and ultimately to Jesus.
Some places and peoples are so open that mass crusades draw thousands. Other places require a different approach- a far more specialized approach. The difference is like that of a general practitioner and a surgeon. Our tension is often influenced by the great results we see among wonderfully open people. We begin to assume this is the approach that God affirms for every place and situation and everyone must adhere to this same process. But you don’t use the same approach to treat the flu and to treat cancer. Nor do you get the same results. In fact the one that is more critical and more urgent is also the one with the most unknown and the least success. In the end the one who failed may be the one who endeavored to accomplish the most noble of tasks.
What is happening across the world and here at home is that there is an army of cross cultural missionaries who have become the new leaders of the church. Their calling isn’t to pastor churches that focus on the happiness of its members, but to mobilize the church for the purpose of fulfilling God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself. We used to send our missionaries out and it kept the mission a safe distance from us. Some how they broke back in and decided they were not going without us.
At Mosaic we have no members only missionaries. There is nothing to join except a community on mission. We have little patience for self indulgent spirituality that insists on everything being about us.
And there are implications. We have a zero tolerance policy for religious jargon or Christianese. We have little room for traditions that mean something to us but nothing to a person searching for God. We will not forsake the Word of God for the traditions of men. We are committed to removing every non-essential barrier between God and humanity. We refuse to allow the Gospel to become lost in our nostalgia or to appear irrelevant because we are.
And I must confess we are less concerned about whether mainstream Christians get us than about whether those searching for God get Him.
And if this makes us the bane of the church than so be it. Paul said he would be accursed if only Israel would be saved. If he was willing to take on hell for eternity, we can take a little heat from the watch dogs of Christian orthodoxy.