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Posts tagged discipleship


The way we worship, the kinds of things we look at, the habits that are enforced, the way we sit, the structure of passivity, the anonymity, the filing in and out by the thousands at a specific time, the parking lot attendants rushing you out the maze: we see all of this as training the people into being in relation to God and each other in a certain way. Therefore, to attract large amounts of people into one room, and offer a directed performance of worship from the front, trains people to be passivized, observers and consumers of Christianity. And it counteracts everything of what it means to be the church for missional thinkers and practitioners.

Missional types see the very life lived between three or more people as that which reveals Christ’s forgiveness, reconciliation and the gospel looks like. It is the social-linguistic context that makes possible the communication of the gospel to post Christendom people who have no context to understand the gospel at all. Attractional mega churches attract, appeal to a need, provide an attractive package and by their sheer numbers work against this kind of community that makes possible this kind of encountering of the gospel. Sure it is still possible to split people into smaller groups, but the sheer formative power of the large attractional gathering trains the habits of every believer into self selecting a comfortable community for other purposes other than mission.


It is crucial that we see that we are not living as if Jesus were present now in his earthly ministry, but after that: after the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension; after Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit; after the gospels and the Book of Acts, which record the launching of the church’s distinctive era and mission. We live after the Old Testament and after the career of Jesus in a third era of redemption, the age of the church before the return of Christ in the consummation of history. “It is for your benefit that I go away,” Jesus told his disciples (Jn. 16:7), and we must take him at his word. . . .

“What would Jesus do?” therefore is the wrong question for Christian ethics. If we keep asking it, moreover, we will keep making the perennial mistakes many have made, such as prioritizing church work over daily trades (“because Jesus gave up carpentry for preaching the gospel”); valorizing singleness, at least for clergy (“because Jesus didn’t marry”); and denigrating all involvement in the arts, politics, or sports (“because we never read of Jesus painting a picture or participating in political discussions, much less kicking a ball”). Instead, “What would Jesus want me or us to do, here and now?” is the right question—or, if I may, Who are we, for Jesus Christ, today?