Earlier this year I wrote a few posts about how the economic crisis/recession might impact our understanding of the church and mission. In those posts I differentiate peoples’ “core time” from their “leisure time.” Most churches target a person’s leisure time when seeking to advance God’s mission. In other words, churches desire to see more people sacrifice more of their flexible time to participate in groups, activities, ministries, and programs that they believe align with what God wants done in the world. There are multiple problems with this model, but chief among them is that it leaves a person’s “core time” (often 80% or more of their week) untouched. In other words, people come to believe that most of their life and time simply does not matter to God or his mission. Here’s an excerpt from that post I wrote last December:
Pastors should be asking what would happen if we built our mission on people’s core time rather than leisure time. What if we could tap into the 80+ hours people spend every week on the job, with their families, and engaging in life’s ordinary responsibilities? Of course, this would require a fundamental shift in the way we think about mission and institution. Here are a few implications:
- It would mean helping people see the missional dignity of ordinary work; communicating that their jobs matter to Christ and his kingdom, not just what happens within the walls of the church.
- It would mean elevating the role of family and household relationships as vehicles for spiritual growth and missional engagement. Yes, raising children and caring for aging parents honors God and advances his kingdom just as, if not more, than institutional church programs.
- It would mean not extracting people from their lives and communities to engage in church programming or committees unless absolutely necessary, but equipping them to live in communion with Christ within the context he has placed them.
- It would shift the focus of Sunday worship away from mission and outreach to a time of celebration and encouragement for Christians who are engaged in mission the other six days of the week.
- It would mean deploying church leaders outside the institution to engage members in their native contexts; mentoring and coaching on their turf rather than ours.
- It would mean a radical adjustment in what the church celebrates-not institutional expansion or programmatic growth, but stories of ordinary people incarnating Christ at home, at work, at school…everywhere life happens.
Last Sunday I gave a sermon at Blanchard about this subject. It’s now online and can be heard below. It starts with Paul and Silas being “with” God while in prison and their hesitancy to leave when given the opportunity. The message then looks at Paul’s “rule in all the churches” that “each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him” and “there let him remain with God” (1 Cor 7:17-24). Rather than trying to give more of our extra time to do things for God, what would mission look like if we lived all of our lives with God?
“With” (Acts 16:25-40; 1 Cor 7:17-24) Download