Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mission? Edification? Both?

There is an interesting conversation going on between Eric Carpenter, Alan Knox and Dave Black. First Eric posted No Guarantee which is a call for mutual edification in the church. Dave Black responded with a call to prioritize mission. Then Alan posted a "both and" post arguing for both mission and edifiction, Which is important for the church: edification or mission? ...
So, is edification important for the church or is mission important for the church? The answer is, obviously, YES! Both edification and mission are important – and vital and necessary – for the church.
Very true. Dave responded with yet another (very lengthy and excellent) post today. I liked this part...

It is the Great Commission that ought to drive everything we do as followers of Jesus. Some people think they can be good Christians by attending the fellowship, singing songs, praying prayers, teaching one another, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. We must return to Jesus' revolutionary, cross-based ministry. How different is this kind of self-sacrificing Christianity from the comfort-seeking, self-serving, ingrown religion so often practiced in our churches! This Jesus who humbled Himself as a servant and who died as a criminal -- this same Jesus is the One who was always pressing on to preach the Gospel in the next village. His heart's cry was for the dead and the dying, for the lost, the sick, the undone. He was willing to let everything go for the sake of lost souls. When I finally came to understand that this very same Jesus was desiring to live His missional life through me, I felt as if He had shoved a knife into my heart. But finally I knew the work he had for me. The true test of my commitment is not how much I give or even what I believe but how I live. God is not just asking us to give our money to missions but to make missions the core of our lives, the central passion in all we do.
That is powerful, not because it is passionately and eloquently written but because it comes from a lifetime of experience. the exchange is a great one, passionate without being angry because it is a conversation between brothers and friends who have the same Savior and are called to the same mission. It is perhaps a needed corrective. I know I can get so concerned with "doing church" the right way that I forget what Christ has called His people to do as the church in the first place.

So which is it? I think both. Mission is the purpose of the church, we are sent to make disciples. We also are called within the context of the church to gather with one another for the purpose of edification and equipping for the work of ministry. Being willing to go does not always mean being called to go to Ethiopia or Haiti or Russia. We can be called to go to a prison, to go downtown or to go across the street. Whatever and wherever, the call is to go to those who need Christ and being willing to go wherever He calls. I don't condemn those who don't travel to the far away lands but I do question those who don't go anywhere but "to church". That is what our religious culture tells us, go to church and maybe invite people to come with you, and you are being faithful. Christ calls us to a higher standard and a more glorious mission than attending, contributing and observing. It is call to gather together to equip us to go to the world. That is what it is all about and that is what Eric, Dave and Alan are striving to do.

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