Monday, August 20, 2007

Failing the Mission: Abandoning the Cross, Community or the Culture

DNA is crucial to the health and function of a body. It is also critical for the health and mission of the Body of Christ. Neil Cole warns against subtracting from the DNA. “If we concentrate on one part of DNA and eliminate any other part we will lose the whole of it; death and mutation are the result.” (Neil Cole, Organic Church, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005, 120)
Jesus sends every believer with the Cross in Community to the Culture. These Missional Distinctives are the critical DNA of the Church.
CROSS
Divine Truth
Loving Jesus
Greatest Commandment
Mt 22:37–38
COMMUNITY
Nurturing Relationships
Loving One Another
Second Greatest Commandment
Mt 22:39–40
CULTURE
Apostolic Mission
Loving the Lost
Great Commission
Mt 28:19–20
When Christians fail to love Jesus, one another, and unbelievers simultaneously, the mission is thwarted. One of the contributing causes toward the Church’s failure to fulfill this mission is that Christians are faithful to only one or two of these distinctives. Subtracting even a portion has devastating results.
Cross + Culture – Community =
NO CHURCH
Many times Christians become so frustrated with other Christians that they try to bring the gospel to the culture alone, apart from a local expression of a church. Connecting people to Jesus without connecting them to a local church family is like bringing a baby into the world and abandoning it. As a spiritual orphan, a new Christian is likely to become lonely, immature, and selfish.
As Josh Harris notes, when Christians abandon the local church, “everyone gets cheated out of God’s best.” (Josh Harris, Stop Dating the Church, Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2004, 18)
  • You cheat yourself.
  • You cheat a church community.
  • You cheat your world.


Community + Cross – Culture =
NO MISSION
Some churches are so internally focused that they neglect those in the culture altogether. Like the nation of Israel, they expect the surrounding nations to “come to us” if they want to meet God. Numeric growth in attendance is largely transfer growth, not conversion growth since the Christians have separated themselves from the negative and dangerous “culture.” The lack of any spiritual reproduction can lead to a legalistic Christianity that is only a generation away from extinction. This failure to connect with the culture results in a missionless Church.

Culture + Community – Cross =
NO HOPE
Some Christians are focused on being culturally relevant and meeting the needs of those around them with loving service, but they neglect the preaching of the cross. They get so busy serving and “being Jesus” that they fail to articulate the hope that they have in Jesus! This neglect of the gospel easily becomes classic liberalism or a social gospel. Without Christ and the cross, what is there? The YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army.
Yet this abandonment of the cross can also be seen in churches that cater to the consumer culture of today, adopting accommodation and comprise as the method of operation to attract newcomers. Once the gospel has been abandoned, salvation becomes something that is earned by doing good deeds.

The impact of neglecting any of these Missional Distinctives is dangerous.
Dangers of Neglecting the Culture
NO MISSION
Dangers of Neglecting the Community
NO CHURCH
Dangers of Neglecting the Cross
NO HOPE
Missionless Church
Churchless Mission
Dead Religion
Isolation and Separatism
Spiritual Orphans
Consumer Christianity
Legalism
Loneliness
Liberalism: Social Gospel
“Come to Us” Mentality
Believing without Belonging
Belonging without Believing
No Spiritual Reproduction
Individualism
Cultural Accommodation
Internalism
Selfishness & Immaturity
Salvation by Works
Fundamentalism
“Parachurch” = Substitution
“Country Club” Mentality
However, when believers embrace the Cross while experiencing Community and engage the Culture, the Church is an unstoppable force! That is missional impact!
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