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Earlier in the year, I committed to reading through the Gospel of Mark and blogging about it. I did end up reading all of Mark with a small group. We met in the park and called it “Mark in the Park.” Corny, I know. It was a terrific experience, though — so terrific that I really didn’t need to blog about Mark! We got all our thoughts and questions out in the group instead.
This group was affiliated with our local church (of which I am a member), but I find that doing things within the church is becoming less and less important to me. When my husband and I first joined a United Methodist Church, we jumped almost immediately into church leadership projects, because that’s how we are. This was great for a while. It’s fun and rewarding to be creative in designing and leading programs and worship services, and we especially enjoyed being involved in the new church band.
But after a while, it becomes a chore. And you realize that maybe it’s not bearing as much fruit as you thought it was. The local church itself may benefit, but are we really doing any good for anyone else? We spend time planning things that will bring people IN to the church, but we don’t spend enough time doing things OUT in the world.
So we’ve recently backed out of the church leadership game. I actually stopped attending services for a few weeks, too; I think I needed the break. We’re maintaining our connection with the local church, especially with small groups, but it is no longer the focus of our spiritual life.
We want to be the church in the world. We’re still figuring out what that means. Lately I’ve been looking for ways to be involved in the community without dragging the local church into it. For instance, I’m organizing a monthly Kidical Mass bike ride in our area. I invited some people from the church, but it was definitely not a Church Event. I was also not proselytizing. Just trying to do something good for the people who live here. I’m also making an effort to talk to more people in the neighborhood.
Today, I read the Fall 2008 issue of Leadership Journal, and I’d like to close by sharing some quotes from it that really struck me.
“…to be missional means to be sent into the world; we do not expect people to come to us.” –Alan Hirsch
“Is it just about trying to grow your own local assembly? As opposed to going out and loving people and not getting any credit for it” — Pastor Dave Gibbons, in an article by Helen Lee.
“We used to invite them to attend church; now we invite them to be the church. I used to ask, ‘What can we do to get more people to attend our church?” Now I ask, ‘How can I best equip and empower the people to go be the church in the marketplace where God has called them to serve?” –Walt Kallestad
From a cartoon of a church sign: “Midtown Fellowship: Join us! (and gain, easily, 75-100 friends on Facebook)”
Let’s be the face of Christ in the world, everywhere we go, and in everything we do.