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Ending Church

Church on Fire

The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning – Emil Brunner

A while back my 3-year old daughter drew a picture on the whiteboard and turned to me exclaiming “Daddy look at my beautiful drawing!” I quickly said “Let’s go show mommy”, but before I could get her she wiped it away. I looked at her disappointed, and she looked at me puzzled.

Right then an epiphany occurred – For my daughter it didn’t need to last forever for all to see; it was perfectly fine that it was beautiful in it’s time.

At Mosaic (the faith community I help lead) beautiful stories have been created and some incredible people gather with us – but is our destiny simply to try and keep this up?

I’ve been imagining a magnificent commissioning service for our community – where we ordain, release and send every single person out. It’s easy to fall into thinking that this is the ‘closing’ of a church, but for me this would be the fulfillment of all that we’ve been working towards.

It wouldn’t be immediate, but by having an ‘end date’ it creates a fixed time-frame for us to be laser focused on what matters most – in terms of prayer, support, discipleship, resourcing, etc. I’m convinced there are churches everywhere that are filled with people who can’t give a good answer as to why they keep going, and going.

Sometimes I feel like we’re holding great people captive. We have people in our midst who have been wanting to go and birth something anew. We’ve got others who may want to participate in a differently structured church and could share what they’ve learned at Mosaic with other communities. Still others who may be feeling a bit disgruntled could move on with a sense of dignity. Releasing and commissioning one another could be one of the most thrilling things we do as a community.

I can see us re-configuring to being a missional network that informally equips and counsels while organizing occasional gatherings to share stories.

I wouldn’t recommend this to most churches. I think our faith community is uniquely positioned to be able to pull something like this off with grace, reverence, and love.

It’s His kingdom that endures forever, not every church organization.

If God would have Christ himself, the head of the church, sacrificed for the good of the world, is it possible that God might ask us, the body of Christ, to do the same?

Could God do even greater things through your community if you ceased to gather the way you currently do?

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • osvaldo Mmotolinia November 23, 2011, 11:15 am

    i love ittt

  • Erin Wilson November 23, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Lon, this is an incredibly encouraging post. Rare to find people holding to the long view, and not trying to keep the current situation glued together by any means necessary.

    Peace

  • Lon November 23, 2011, 10:53 pm

    Thanks osvaldo / Erin!

    What i’m proposing isn’t without it’s set of issues – there’s lots that can be said for committed community, spaces of refuge, steadfast faithfulness, etc…

    However churches tend to operate and feel as if their mission is to merely exist indefinitely. Worse yet, they can create a culture where one of the highest goals of a member is to keep the machine running.

    Self-preservation is completely normal – but I don’t think it’s the Gospel…

    • Lon November 23, 2011, 10:59 pm

      I should add.. in case there are churches teetering on ‘ending’ for whatever reason reading this – there are definitely seasons to dig our heels in and stay the course. Please do so if that’s what God’s calling you to do.

      But again, I don’t think the Kingdom is built solely on human determination or perseverance – be open.

  • Cindy November 24, 2011, 12:17 am

    Amen to that! I think we’re getting there…Something this true, creative and glorifying to God’s name is so “mosaic”…I’m still praying for that…I pray that this Advent will lead us to wait for His second coming in surrender, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and hope.

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