There’s got to be a point or a ‘so what?’ aspect beyond our having good leadership and healthy churches. And surely that is to understand ourselves as ‘sent’ ones, individually and together – all of us in mission, thereby becoming both sign and witness of Kingdom-present and Kingdom-coming.
My neighbours should know I’m a Christian not so much because they observe my going off to church (usually somewhere else, every Sunday), but because I am more of a neighbour where I am living with them, near them – perhaps the most helpful, caring person on my street, or in my apartment or townhouse, or for miles around on rural concession roads.
The church exists for the world, not vice versa. The church in community should be helping us know how to better the community where we spend most of our lives, most of our time. It is there (not in church work so much), that we faithfully join the Saviour in interacting with people — in all those places of human existence, passion and concern that make up every ‘room’ of Creation.
As the image of God is being restored in each believer, and as believers together form baptized and communal groups of missional-endeavour the world around us is very much in danger (!) of being transformed too into the purposes of God. Yes! We will not ourselves, just yet, bring fully the presence of His Kingdom, but we can certainly by God’s grace and Holy Spirited enablement make people even more hungry and thirsty for His Presence and Power amongst us, incarnate in and through this-here Body of Christ in this-here day.
A church takes seriously how to enable its people to be missionaries Monday through Friday where they live, work, play, travel and dream – that is, in terms of both affinity and geography. Christians live and move among ‘normal’ people, ‘preaching the Gospel’ (as St. Francis put it) ‘and when necessary, using words.’
Whether we have ‘come strategies’ or ‘go strategies’ as local churches, we are to consider ourselves ‘sent’ (that is, in apostolic ministry) following with the Saviour and His apprentice-disciples of every age. Sometimes simply in showing up and living incarnationally among people, as did Jesus, being immersed in their world and culture, loving, living God’s truth, revealing there His mercy and grace and plans for restored and right living, people will be drawn to ask why and to respond with a desire to join this new Way of living and being.
As they do so, whole regions, towns, villages, cities and suburbs are utterly transformed. Out of the dark woods of present existence, God knows, we may yet clear out a wide area for full and abundant living, as the Son-shine brings new growth, healing, clarity and provision for communities living together on this planet, in the watch and care of the Father.