That’s quite a mouthful — it’s the name of a class my son Ryan just completed this past weekend at the university he attends in Nampa ID. One of the books they used to guide them through this topic was, The Shaping of Things to Come, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. Although I’ve not yet read the book, Ryan told me so much about it that I feel I’ve heard all of the good parts. He can get quite passionate about some topics, provided they push one of his hot buttons.

The main focus of the class, at least in simplistic form was the church getting away from being event-centric and taking the church to the streets. That means people getting involved in their communities, living out their faith daily and touching people with the love of Christ. Serving them, loving them and leaving the transformation up to God. In other words, being missional, at least in part is not having the agenda of getting people to come to the church event. 

This line of thinking has put my mind to work and raised a few questions. If the church you attend were to cancel the weekend service — the event we’ve come to refer to as “going to church” —  what would you do with this new-found “free time”? How would you serve God? Would the people you encounter throughout the week notice any kind of God-connection if you didn’t have church to talk about? Has “church” become your primary connection to God? I’m afraid the answer for most of us is yes.

While the event-centric church has been successful in the past I would suggest those days are numbered. I just have a hard time believing that God cares how many people show up for the weekly event. I think He’s far more interested in how we’re impacting the world we live in, and how we’re loving those around us. We don’t necessarily need another church or another event to be the church God has called us to be.

I’m not suggesting we do away with everything we know of as church, but I strongly believe it’s time to rethink how we do what we do. I’m not talking about a new style, a new time or some other formula. I’m talking about a new church. Have we strayed from where we need to be? What are your thoughts?

Sitting across the lunch table from a pastor friend of mine as he shared with me his journey of the last several months was an interesting conversation to say the least. It was sort of like listening to a recording of several conversations my wife Jacque and I have had over the last few years. My friend pastors a 4 or 5 year old congregation that was planted out of another church in our city. When they began their intent was to be a church for the unchurched and therefore turned to some of the countries great mega churches as models. However, over the last few months he has felt a growing discomfort with that approach, and the consumer focused church in general.

There aren’t many churches, at least in Kansas City who are much more than a religious products warehouse store. Each week people come and get stocked up on supplies and then go back to their lives. If for some reason the church happens to be out of a product, or doesn’t carry what they want then it’s time to move on to a different church to check out their selection. Maybe their music will be more to our liking. Perhaps they really know how to worship God.

My friend recently preached a sermon series on being a SENT church. Since his people are used to coming to church for supplies the whole idea of the church being a sending station, a missional organization created for sending rather than consuming, was a foreign concept. He said that many weeks as he spoke he looked out at blank stares. For him this became more an indication of the need than a source of discouragement. I applaud his bold vision and his commitment to redefining church.

So what are your thoughts? Are most churches today religious products stores? Is this a legitimate approach to church? Where are you on your journey?