Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Missional Needs Discipleship

Webb Kline's email sparked a deep response from a shy one of my non-blogging friends. The Bassmaster Ray had this to add to the discussion:

There's still something missing—Something that most people still doesn't talk much about anymore, if at all. There's a word that is hard to find today in the church and in all the talk about ‘Kingdom’. It's discipleship.

The tsunami in the Indian Ocean a few years ago perfectly illustrated what I'm trying to convey. When the tsunami hit that area in the Indian Ocean the entire world threw money at the problem. At one point "they" actually said, "stop sending money." What they then pleaded for they never got, at least in the volume they needed. It was people, to give their time. Time...…. The church has become detached from the fruit of long suffering, or patience. Long suffering with those who need someone, anyone, to sit with them, to suffer with them, to cry on, to talk to, to help put their lives back together—to give them Hope, over time, with patience.

It's become easier to throw money at every problem that arises because even the church at-large has come to believe that money can solve most if not all the worlds’ problems. No amount of money can comfort the broken hearted, or release spiritual captives, or give true and lasting hope. It takes people, with long-suffering, in it for the long-haul, who will see that these pre-believers, wounded believers and new-born babes make it. Make it to adulthood. Spiritual adulthood, so that we stop perpetuating generations of people trying to build the Kingdom with ‘detached’ believers. Detached form the pain and reality others experience and suffer, day-in, and day-out.

Building the Kingdom can be hard work, and draining at times. I suspect we have made it harder than it needs to be. Harder because the message too often given is: Receive this box of food and say this prayer and you’ll be okay. Good-bye.

What then separates us from the Welfare system in this country? Here’s some food, possibly some health care, maybe even a little money, and then you’re on your own. I know a lot of pre-believers who see the church as just another feel-good welfare system. They say, “I have no patience for the church. Soon as I walk out the door I never hear from them, unless I come to them, here, on Sunday.” If the church is going to be a healing agent, then we are going to have to inoculate at the point of infection. Anti-venom does no good in the medicine cabinet, or even in the syringe—it has to be injected, and remain, until the healing is complete.

This is not an easy 3-step program. It’s hard—really hard. To stick it out sometimes with those hurting and suffering, especially when there is no one else but you to reach out to a particular person. I’ve bailed. At the point where I had taken on so much of another person’s pain that I had nothing left to give, and there was no one to relieve me. I think I now understand a bit what it feels like when a lifeguard has someone they are trying to rescue drag them under. If there had been others with me, we could have rotated and combined our efforts. We could have shared in the long-suffering, together, and divided the burden. Many hands (and hearts) make light work. We can’t make it alone on this journey, and we shouldn’t expect others too either. I need you, and you need me—it was meant to be, and I’m grateful for that.

Discipleship. Long-suffering. Interdependence. Kingdom.

So what do you think? I believe discipleship and patience are 2 keys to this new missional paradigm. Without them the whole thing falls apart.

We must not throw money at things without being there to live it out with the people.

Your thoughts?

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Blogadelic said...

I think Alan Hirsch has alot to say about the subject of discipleship in The Forgotten Ways. But the points I will make here is that we have compartmentalized everything in the west. Faith has been seperated from the market. But even in church we compartmentalize evangelism under one ministry, discipleship under another, and missions under yet a third area. We seperate all these elements of Christianity that were ment to be cohesive. While admittedly they are each different elements of the Christian life we have been two quick to seperate them completely.

On the issue of missions over missional, we have had a western consumer mindset when it comes to "doing missions." We send money, or we take a team, supplies, everything the 'mission site' "needs."

We have not equipped people in the mission field to use the resources they have but have tried to import a western way of doing things right down to the money, means, and materials. What we are left with is a 'mission field' that is left waiting for our yearly return to bring more 'stuff.' Rather then teaching them and developing indigenous leaders to take over the mission in their own culture. We have created a welfare state in these others places where they become dependent upon us to grow and reach others.

We need to vastly rethink how we can better integrate discipleship, evangelism, worship, missions, all these things and more into a comprehensive holistic aproach which I think is the heart of missional. I think the way we have done 'mission trips' in the western church for the last half century needs to be revamped drastically to incorperate 'missional' principles and get away the 'mission' as church program model.

Webb Kline said...

Post and comment really resonate with where I'm at. Keith Green once said, "God can't cash out-of state checks in heaven, he want us to go."

A fellow mission team member and I were talking about this last night. We can look at the needs that we see in Ukraine, and it will take money to get kids off the streets and out of a life of prostitution and drugs, but more than that, it will take uncompromising love. The orphanages are the same. Yes, they have needs we can meet with finances. But, without love and personal commitment they are but so many clanging cymbals.

I have said for some time that if a church would get out of the check-writing mentality for supporting missions, and simply go--put faces on these people, see their emotionally starved lives, come face to face with their fears and struggles, that church would never be the same again. Of course, perhaps that's why the powers that be are content to keep us writing our checks and keeping our hearts far enough away from it, lest we we find ourselves with more important things to do than church-as-usual. Hmm...