Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today?

 

I understand the nature of the Church is to be a worldwide connection of distinct, interrelated faith communities/congregations that interact with the culture of the time and place in which they live. Although the Church is comprised of individual communities, it is much more complex than an organization. I think that the Church evolves as a viral connection or an organism; it is a fellowship of believers shaped, guided and connected by the active work of the Holy Spirit of God. Ideally, as members of the Church universal, individual members of churches act as wi-fi hot-spots broadcasting the good news of reconciliation, grace, love, fellowship, and discipleship. As members of an organically evolving Church, individual churches are ambassadors and agents of reconciliation, emotional and spiritual growth, healing, and revitalization in lives of individuals and communities.

 

Jesus, himself, identified the primary task for the Church when he said: “… go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). I understand this to be a directive to engage in a continual study of scriptures of the New and Old Testaments with a goal to share the love of Jesus and intentional disciple making as physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people are met.

 

Dr. Peter Berger, in an interview on National Public Radio show Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett, explained that we live in a world driven by economic globalization, rapid communication, and easily available mass education. He further pointed out that the nature of the resulting global culture is syncretic, synergistic and pluralistic with every conceivable belief system interacting with other beliefs and lifestyles. The exchange of ideas, ideologies, and cultures is complex and fruitful (Tippett). I recognize that I am a product of such an environment and that my understanding of the evangelistic role of the Church is influenced by my background.

 

In order to intentionally and effectively make disciples, the Church must diligently discern what God is doing in the world where we live and at the time when we live. Such discernment requires the Church to actively listen to popular culture and be in a respectful, intentional, and purposeful dialogue within its membership and with the world outside its walls.

 

In order to effectively make disciples, the Church must be intentional about allowing God to work through individual communities of faith in order to accomplish God’s goals. Although individual churches do not share the same theological understanding of the fine points of God’s nature and mission, it is imperative that we set our differences aside, concentrate on our common roots and, in the spirit of cooperation, submit ourselves to God’s guidance. By doing this, individual church communities will witness their faith to each other and to their neighbors, learn about aspects of God that they themselves might have overlooked, and demonstrate to outsiders what it means to be connected to each other and to God.

 

{An illustration from my personal practice of ministry}

 

In addition, the Church must be intentional in staying current with culturally appropriate language and methods, thus making church accessible to those who do not have a long tradition of Christian upbringing. By doing this, the Church is involved in the process of bringing the presence of the Divine into the secular world.

 

{An Illustration from my personal practice of ministry}

 

A cursory look at denominational websites makes it obvious that the Church is trying to discern how to reach outside its walls in a culturally relevant and appropriate way. The web sites of the United Methodist (http://www.umc.org/, as well as, http://www.10thousanddoors.org/ and http://www.rethinkchurch.org), Anglican (http://www.cofe.anglican.org/), Catholic (http://www.catholic.org/) and UCC (http://www.ucc.org/) churches are good examples of how the Church makes it a priority to reach out in a culturally relevant and appropriate way. YouTube channels and communities are one example that demonstrate the variety of ways for individuals to connect to the emerging Church. Although I find some of the theological ideas put forth in such channels difficult to accept or even to consider, I cannot deny the fact that the emerging church is struggling to redefine itself and find the ways and means of connecting individuals to God and to communities of faith.

 

List of Works Cited:

Tippett, Krista. Speaking of Faith: Globalization and the Rise of Religion. 12 October 2006. 27 July 2009 <http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/
globalization/transcript.shtml>.

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