See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
God is on the move in the world today. He is constantly doing a new thing. New Testament scholars point out that the word “immediately” is used 41 times in the gospel of Mark. The use of such a dramatic word underscores the forward momentum of God’s kingdom on earth.
In the last decade, a missional movement has begun among those who realize our church train is on the wrong track headed for a crash. Their prophetic cry implores the church to catch up with the new things God is doing. Fred Luter, New Orleans pastor and first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, while insistent that the gospel remain unchanged, said, “We cannot expect to reach this do-rag, tattoo-wearing, ear-pierced, iPod, iPad, iPhone generation with an eight-track ministry. Things are changing and so we’ve got to some way, somehow change the methods of how we do things.”1
Throughout this book, I have insisted that true worship ignites us to join God on his mission of redemption. The word “redeem” means to recover ownership by paying off a debt. The word “ignite” means to set afire. Authentic worship in spirit and truth ignites our hearts to join God in his mission to redeem the world. To do that we must get outside of the church!
Eric Alexander, Scottish pastor and theologian, speaking at the Urbana Missions Conference, supported this view:
No Christian man or woman worshiping God and desiring his glory can be unmoved by the fact that there are areas of the world and nations where God is being robbed of his glory. That is why true worship and true mission always go together, and it is why the glory of God is the only ultimate missionary motive. There are, of course, others: compassion for the lost, obedience to the Great Commission and so on. But these are not the ultimate motive. The ultimate motive is the glory of God.”
In the early years of the missional movement, many of its main proponents took a dim view of the present state of corporate worship. Despite being effective missional prophets, they were still trying to comprehend worship in an attractional mindset. When I explain to people that discipleship and missions begin with worship, they often look at me in confusion. Their concept of worship is usually limited to an hour per week designed to attract the world to church. But God is on the move. It’s time for us to move with God and get beyond the attractional methods that have held us back for so many years. Attractional methodology contends that we will win the world by getting the world into our church buildings. The Bible says however that we will win the world when we get the church into the world! (See the Missional Church and Missional Community videos listed under resources in the right column of this blog. They will help you understand this concept.)
A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5:14b–16, NIV
As I drive through small towns or across the countryside, I enjoy reading church signs. Have you ever noticed how many church signs contain messages that present the singular message, “Come in”? A prominent billboard proclaims, “Let’s meet at my house before the game this Sunday! Signed, God.” Is the reader to think that the only way to find God is to go to a church on a Sunday? Service times, event promos, and slogans that push church attendance all show that our focus is inside the walls. Some signs assume the role of drive-by sniper as they attempt to put a 10-second guilt trip on us for not attending their church. I dream that one day I might see a church sign that simply says, “Do you have a need? Can we help you? Call us at 803–888–7777. We’ll do our best to serve you.” — Mark Powers
1. Ledbetter, “Luter sees genuine open door for ethnic groups,” June 20, 2012.
2. Alexander, “True Worship and True Mission: For the Glory of God,” speech at the Urbana Missions Conference, 1981.