Last night Christina, John, Sondra and I had a meeting with two leaders of the MidAmerica District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, Rodger and Tom. In case you’re not aware, The Core is considering affiliating with the Alliance, for purposes of assistance, accountability, and collaboration.
We had a fantastic conversation, largely because these two guys have been through all the motions of church planting, evangelism, etc, and have come to many of the same conclusions we have. Namely, that it is more about disciple-making than decision-making, it’s more about building community than building numbers, and the key to being “missional” is being incarnate… simulateously striving to really know God, and really know the people around you, and the only way to do that is to surrender yourself to the heart of God, and invest yourself in the hearts of people.
On a more practical level, Rodger and Tom couldn’t have been more thrilled about what’s already been done at the Front Porch, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the vision they’ve laid out for new church planting in their district. More impressive than the fact that they want to proliferate community venues much like the FroPo, is the fact that they don’t want to rely on formulas at all… they want the vision to be based on an intimate knowledge of the surrounding community and culture, and of course, obedience to God’s unique direction for each new church.
One thing that stuck out in my mind was the theme of incarnation, which recurred consistently in our conversation. I commented that so many churches spend so much breath trying to convince people to “plug in” to the groups or systems or programs or activities they’ve already got in place. This is not wrong. But it’s not really the heart of mission, of incarnation.
Brian McLaren once wrote that many of us would be better Christians if we spent less time at church, not more. Although this sentence by itself is a little too vague, I believe his point is spot-on. Because the context of this quote explains how often we Christians soak up the life of the church, and waste ourselves on it. We’ve got nothing left for the world, and we become more comparable to cloistered monks than roving apostles.
Maybe the church is not the power strip, that we all need to “plug into”. Maybe the church is the plug, we as the church are many plugs, in search of outlets to connect with.
I am often guilty of over-extending a metaphor, and I see that I’ve done it again. Because my illustration here would require that the power flow backwards, from the plug into the outlet. But Jesus seems to have done everything backwards, so I’m gonna go with it.
Because isn’t this more like what Jesus did, anyway? He didn’t tell us to MapQuest heaven and call him if we get lost. He came. He plugged into us, and threw the power in reverse.
Sources tell me that a weekend is coming up. Be like Jesus. Go incarnate with people.
In other words, plug out.