For many of us, church is a cultural fixture–something that we take for granted.
So have you ever thought about what the church is for?
Just what exactly is the relationship between Christianity and the church?
Can we engage–much less think about–the Christian life apart from the larger body of fellow Christians?
And come to think of it, what is it that we’re doing by continuing to gather together? to worship together, pray together, and serve together?
Is the church where we come to get what we need to carry on with our own spiritual journeys?
And what about “missions”? Is this something extra for us to do after everything else is accounted for?
Or, is it simply this: that it is the active presence of the church–the Jesus community itself–which is at the heart of God’s ongoing work in the world?
These are some of the questions that I look forward to considering with you as we begin the next Spring 2016 Christ College course, “More than Missions: The Church’s Presence in the World.”
In serving on staff in Serving & Outreach at Christ Church for the last several years, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how the church engages in its role in the world. For a long time in our culture, we have assigned a certain name to this: “missions.”
But this term “missions” and what it implies is misleading, as it isolates what God would have us do in the world and for the world as somehow extra to what is the real point of the Christian life. By doing so, it makes a false distinction between worship, prayer, and study on the one side and the pursuit of God’s justice and peace for the world on the other.
The truer way is for followers of Jesus to adhere first and foremost to the singular mission of God in the world at all times and in all things.
It is about much more than missions.
And it is about much more than simply going to church, or being a member of a church.
It is about belonging to the church, and thereby becoming as a community the way God is present in the world.
Throughout the course we will cover many topics that you probably have questions about, including:
- The Holy Spirit
- Spiritual gifts
- Evangelism and witness
- Election and salvation
- Social justice
Our discussions are going to offer us some surprises. They will even challenge the ways we understand the church, missions, and wide variety of topics. But most of all, my prayer is that our time together over these four weeks is inspiring to you as God continues to call us forth to accomplish the good works planned for us.