Thursday, December 14, 2017

In talking recently with a friend and colleague, I heard a story that exhibits one church under two philosophies of ministry.  While operating under one paradigm, the local church saw the upcoming city festival as a monetary resource for the church.  With all the city festivities happening two blocks away, people would need a place to park.  So the church set up attendants at the entrance of their parking lot and charged festival patrons five dollars per car.  And when a few families didn't have the cash for the transaction, the attendants ran them off the church property! 

A few years later, the same church approached the city festival differently.  A new paradigm was in play.  This time the church's approach was one of blessing, not confiscation.  The church provided free parking for festival goers, opened the church bathrooms for city use, and created a tent area where mothers and fathers could change their young ones, complete with donated wipes and cremes.  The city was so impressed they asked the pastor if the church could be the "baby changing church" each year for this community event.   

As I reflect on these two scenes, two thoughts come to mind.  One, Leadership is key.  Leaders shape culture.  Leaders attend to the paradigms.  As has been said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." 

Two, a missional stance toward the city is reflected in service and blessing.  Churches that practice missional ministry see the church as the hands and feet of Jesus for the city, not the city as a means to prop up a church.  One approach is utilitarian; the other is incarnational.

Which paradigm reflects more accurately the heart of Jesus? 

Which paradigm has earned the right to share about Jesus in an increasingly pagan culture?

How could your church pivot towards your city?