It's taken only two weeks but I have fallen in love with Tuesday Night Prime Time at Woodward Park. From the meal to the various offerings related to ministry, Prime Time is a dynamic, intentional way to cultivate fellowship and spiritual growth.
Last night, I sat in on John Ed Clark's Leadership Class. The class is viewing and discussing Richard Rogers's videos on Leadership. Last night, the discussion centered on the Headship of Jesus in the body. At the end of Rogers's presentation, he noted the differences between a "church member" and a "body member." A church member must attend meetings, must give money, must live morally, must recruit new members, and must participate in projects. Conversely, a body member (thinking in terms of the parts of our own physical bodies) is dependent on others, unites two other parts, passes along nourishment, stays connected and is resilient.
Rogers' presentation and our subsequent class discussion reminded me of some key insights I'd read a couple of years from Reggie McNeal's book Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church.
"In North America the invitation to become a Christian has become largely an invitation to convert to the church. The assumption is that anyone serious about being a Christian will order their lives around the church, shift their life and work rhythms around the church schedule, channel their charitable giving through the church, and serve in some church ministry; in other words, serve the church and become a fervent marketer to bring others into the church to do the same.
The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists. The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself. It was and is the chosen instrument of God to expand his kingdom. The church is the bride of Christ. Its union with him is designed for reproduction, the growth of the kingdom. Jesus does not teach his disciples to pray, 'Thy church come.' The kingdom is the destination. In its institutional preoccupation the church has abandoned its real identity and reason for existence.
God did not give up on his mission in the Old Testament when Israel refused to partner with him. He decided to go on with the mission himself. We do not need to be mistaken about this: if the church refuses its missional assignment, God will do it another way. God is still inviting us to join him on mission, but it is the invitation to be part of a movement, not a religious club" (11, 15-16).