Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Powerful Missional Email - From Webb

My friend Webb Kline sent me the following very long email. Its outta character for this blog to have such long posts, but I felt Webb's words needed to be heard.

I'd like to say ahead of time THANKS Webb for sharing, I couldn't agree more.

Sorry we missed you today. "The Great PennDOT St. Valentine's Day Storm Boondoggle of '07" forced my into having to work all weekend. Been a time of profound revelations though. Maybe its nothing. I'm tired and didn't want to post, but I had to get the ideas out of my head. See what you think.

Woody came back from Ukraine and went to a leaders conference of local UMC pastors. He presented a video of the Ukraine mission to them. He went there very frustrated as the conference doesn't even acknowledge the Ukraine Initiative on its mission website.

He laid all the cards out on the table and to his surprise, most of the pastors agreed that they needed to get their congregations involved with the initiative. They prayed about it and it looks like we are finally going to get some support, not just financially, but in recruiting volunteers form these churches as well. Presented with a real-life situation, these pastors were very moved to mobilize to help these kids. Bingo!

Here is what I think I am seeing, and I began to get into it on your last blog post:

As I contemplated the snowstorm goof-up, I realized that PennDOT had grown complacent because there hadn't been any real snow-events for the last couple of years. Many employees never had to work a storm like this one. They had the equipment and the head knowledge, but it wasn't until the stormwas upon them that they had to do something about it, and there was a lot of communication breakdown, people untrained for the crisis, supply cut-backs, probably because the global warming governor didn't think we would need them. Plus, they did away with all the independent contractors. They weren't ready for it and we all paid the price.

Okay. Now look at the church. In a time of relative peace and prosperity, the Church became fixated on itself, on buildings, attractional programs, etc. Training was focused on attractional ministry, not on missions. The Soviet Union broke up, democracy took the place of tyranny in many places around the world, and while poverty and starvation existed, much had been done to alleviate it, and racism was at an all-time low. Combine this with the fact that what problems did exist in the world, the western church was largely isolated from them. They didn't really have a lot of reason to be missional--at least on the surface.

But, in the last 35 years, while the church was growing deeper and deeper in debt to its attractions, more self-consumed, self-obsessed, the world's problems exacerbated at a rate far-beyond our comprehension.

1. Abortion was legalized, while we were sleeping.
2. At the same time, drug abuse skyrocketed.
3. The homeless situation in the US went through the roof.
4. The Soviet Union broke up, but it wasn't really a good thing after-all.
We took their democracy for granted, but the people didn't know what to do with it. Alcohol and drug abuse in former Soviet countries skyrocketed, along with prostitution, AIDS, and extreme poverty and homelessness.
Millions of children now live on the streets. Add to that the Chernobyl incident and we have hundreds of thousands of children born with birthdefects, millions orphaned by parents who succumbed to thyroid cancer and other Chernobyl-related illnesses.
5. HIV/AIDS went from nonexistent to out of control in a few short years, the church not doing a thing about it at first because it thought that only gays and drug abusers were affected, and it was easy for them to develop compassionless theology that sent the afflicted to hell without the church having to get involved.
6. Famine began to sweep Africa and Asia.
7. Floods in the Caribbean and South America, brought on by impoverished people creating an environmental crisis by deforesting and derooting the landscape for cooking fuel, took many lives and threatened many more.
8. Militant homosexuality got a foothold on society, perpetrated by Christendom's theologies of hate, intolerance and judgmentalism.
9. Fundamentalist Islam began its reign of terror.
10. Not limited to our small war with Islam, it has taken horrific tolls in places like Darfur, Southeast Asia, Georgia, Bosnia, Sarajevo, Chechnya, not to mention Islamic countries of the Middle East.
11. Meanwhile, child prostitution is epidemic in places like Thailand and Cambodia, Africa, the Orient, the former-Soviet Bloc countries.
12. Earthquakes, Typhoons, Hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, droughts and famines are killing off people all over the planet in numbers that make the biblical pestilences seem mild.

What makes these things more overwhelming is the fact that the information about them is so much more available than it ever was thanks to the internet. The Church is now without excuse.

So what am I getting at? I am thinking that we have been self-consumed with church-as-usual for so long that we don't see the humanitarian crisis that is now at our doorsteps. No one else in the world has the knowledge, wisdom, divine guidance, unconditional love, and faith to confront the things that threaten all of civilization except for God's people. It's up to us. It'snot a matter of attractional vs. missional, emergent vs. traditional--it's a matter of God preparing his Church to enter an entirely new paradigm, a missional paradigm where we are collectively called to confront the needs ofthe world which are consuming humanity. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. No one in this age will ever see any kind of relevance in Christianity unless the Church comes to the rescue. The Church on a humanitarian mission from God is not only the best witness of the mercy and grace of Jesus we could ever bring to the world, it is the only one that will ever make sense to them.

Woody's encounter with a bunch of traditional pastors and their response, got my attention. They can be as traditional as they want to be, and we can be as emergent from all that as we want to be, but what we have all got to realize is that we all have our work cut out for us and it is not, nor is it ever going to be work-as-usual from here on in. I believe that the sooner God's Church can realize that missional is not just another movement, but aprophetic call about the destruction of civilization if we don't rally to the cause, the sooner we can begin to pool our resources to rescue humanity. God has spoken forth a new paradigm, we all must now find our place in it.

We must somehow diffuse all this us-against-them talk and mobilize the church to action. Yeah, that's easier said than done. But, we simply have to run with what we have to work with and those who God is calling will get on board with us, or they will act in kind in other areas, inspired by our message. I'm just going nuts reading all the good ideas, but seeing little fruit.

Sorry for the rant. I had to vent somewhere. Maybe I'm just overtired from having just driven 900+ miles and knowing I have but a short break before heading for Pittsburgh, but something tells me there's more to it than that.

What do you think, bro? Should I get a therapist?

So Now what do you think? Does Webb need a therapist?

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1 comment:

Ari said...

I think we all need therapy hehehe...but Webb is certainly right on with his thoughts, at least as far as I'm concerned.

I particularly agree with this:

It's up to us. It's not a matter of attractional vs. missional, emergent vs. traditional--it's a matter of God preparing his Church to enter an entirely new paradigm, a missional paradigm where we are collectively called to confront the needs ofthe world which are consuming humanity. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.