Sunday, October 22, 2006

Can the Church Change?

I spent the last three days in a conference with folks who believe that established churches can change to become missional--that is to participate with God in a mission to the world. The missional church takes seriously the culture in which it functions and the gifts and calling of its people in order to be on mission with God in that culture.

The Gospel in Our Culture Network basically developed out of a dialogue between those in the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions on what it means to be such a church in 21st century North America. They have not only produced a significant amount of theological literature (such as Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America) but they have also discovered and researched places where it is happening (see Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness).

The conference included representatives from Mennonite, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran churches and judicatories. They are in various stages of grasping and implementing the missional church paradigm. The good news is that they are trying! They believe that the church can change.

During the conference, someone commented that is unfortunate that most churches must come to a point of crisis before they are willing to change. It is unfortunate, but isn't this true for most of us as individuals as well? When one is faced with the potential of heart disease, he or she becomes more concerned about healthy habits. When addiction causes aberrant behavior, it is time for a change. Crisis and opportunity go together.

The key is helping churches to realize the crisis they may be facing if they do not embrace a new paradigm. Is your church healthy? Maybe it is time to embrace a healthy new regimen, becoming a missional church.


Missional Jerry said...

I think they can change as well, and thats my passion to help those that feel the Draw of God to a new direction.

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

I sure hope we can; we're educating our people about a missional mindset. It's a different model, and you know how fast change happens in Baptist churches. We might be looking at a generation thing when it takes a while before the thinking catches up with the 21st Century.