Loss of mission.
If spiritual leaders are coaches and churches are teams, it follows that they would be organized around a game plan, that is, a strategy for achieving their objective, like winning the game. Google church game plan for an avalanche of hits: 11,100,000 in .54 seconds. Evidently I'm not the only one thinking about it. More to the point, it may signal a trend in church life, another indication of our cultural leanings. The sports metaphor may be more prevalent than I thought. Note these Google comparisons compiled by our research department----
evangelism 10,100,000 .63 seconds
hymn book 1, 310,000 .67 seconds
pipe organ 7,380,000 .78 seconds
church 1,240,000,000 . 91 seconds
football 1,430,000,000 . 75 seconds
Note from the research department: This information does not meet the accepted standards for valid statistical research. It does represent Google searches completed on May 4, 2017 in the offices of Finish.Period.com. This data does affirm the author's bias regarding the popularity of sports models in the contemporary church.
My leanings in this regard aren't comic by any means. Any levity here is just to poke some fun at myself. With business education in accounting, finance, and statistics my basic orientation often resembles a balance sheet. Nonetheless, as someone who loves Christ and his church the most recent data about the spiritual landscape of our nation is troubling. Do all of the surveys and measurements mean that the church is experiencing a loss of mission? If so, why?
Of course my premise is that Christ's church has been disarmed by cultural influences, among them the sport's metaphors that are so trendy right now. It must be a valid concern to many others because authors and publishers and book sellers are currently majoring in strategies to reverse these trends. Many of them are the stories of how a few congregations have successfully implemented variations of disciple making methods in their context. Many others want to duplicate these systems. Thus, there's this process resembling cookie-cutter reproduction, perhaps templates that can be applied in every ministry setting. As a result, we have our programs, strategic plans, and yes, game plans to facilitate what is perceived to be our purpose. Sadly, activating these templates often becomes the goal. Somewhere in the blur of this busy-ness, mission is obscured.
OK, I'm a quibbler. So, what's the deal about these programs and game plans? There are a couple of angles---
1. Mission is often seconded to our need for innovation and creativity.
We humans, especially church leaders, love a new twist, a novel approach,
something ingenious and fresh. The product is often a man-made technique
that looks good on paper, accomplishes some superficial objectives, is
sanctified by church-speak, with few long range spiritual outcomes.
2. Mission is constant. Plans change.
This isn't rocket surgery. To be effective strategic planning must happen often,
even the basic rudiments of a game plan. I mean, a wise coach will draw
different x's and o's when going against Alabama than those used against
Mudswamp State. With the velocity and pace of change in this culture, the
planning functions must be in motion at all times. Once again, mission can be
lost in the transitory rush.
3. Church mission is supernaturally empowered.
Jesus promised his disciples that they would receive power (see Acts 1:8, ESV).
Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus this promise was fulfilled on the Day
of Pentecost. The Book of Acts is evidence of what can happen when spirit-
filled believers are on mission. You know about the "end of the earth" power
that crossed so many borders. And, yes, God can bless our game plans too. But,
human nature being what it is, we tend to take credit for these fresh blueprints
for mission and just as often tackle them with our own energy.
There's nothing wrong with Christ's church. The mission of Christ' church, and the stuff to accomplish it are clearly stated in Scripture. They really don't need our clever metaphors and slick ways to be accomplished. They need our obedience.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will
be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the
Acts 1:8, ESV
That's the mission and the game plan...empowered people on mission.
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