Monday, March 02, 2009

From Maintenance to Mission

With the financial challenges that we are facing, one of the greatest temptations for a church is fall into a survival mode. When a church adopts this perspective, its priorities change drastically. Leaders become more concerned about maintenance than mission. Like the man in the proverb, we want to dig a hole and hide our gift because we fear losing it.

If we are honest we will admit that the maintenance mode is the usual operating procedure of many churches even when they are not facing financial crisis. In this approach, the care and maintenance of those in the “family of faith” is more important than the needs of the unchurched and dechurched. Maybe we no longer have the philosophy that the church should be primarily committed to “keeping up the graveyard and having someone to conduct funerals,” but we may be more concerned about providing for our own members than about outreach and ministry to the community.

When I use the term “outreach” I am not simply talking about bringing in more people to pay the bills, but sharing the gospel with the unchurched because it is what we are called to do. Likewise, “ministry to the community” is done not with the expectation of any reward, but because this is also part of the mission God has called us to do.

How can a church avoid becoming more concerned about maintenance than mission? First, we can pray with open eyes and open hearts, seeing the world as it is rather than what we wish it would be. Second, we can enter into honest dialogue with fellow church members, acknowledging our fears as well as our hopes. Third, our leaders can “open the windows” of the church to the world by inviting those who are engaging in ministry outside our walls to share their stories. Fourth, through the preaching ministry, our pastors can remind us of the God who loved, sent, and sacrificed for humankind. It is God’s example that we are called to follow. God’s way does not guarantee success but it does provide satisfaction.

The problem is not the financial climate; it is our willingness to be part of the mission of God.


rausky79 said...

The reason there are so many people in an unchurced position is they like me have become fed up with a lot of the hypocrisy from christians, and like me realizing the pastor was a thief, and then being treated like a second class citizen atthe churches I have attended. I'm sorry, but that's the truth according to my experiences. i haven't attended any church in over 5 years.

Ircel said...

Since I do not know your particular situation, I will not attempt to respond except to say don't give up on the church although you have been disappointed with some local expressions of it.