So, I've been participating in this 'Missional Church' project through ABCUSA National Ministries for the past two years... me and some folks from my church, along with other churches in the state. Two weeks ago we had our last meeting and we started with a discussion of a 'church' in Florida. Well, the question was, is this a church. There were a number of different social events sponsored by an umbrella non-profit. They rented space in a high drug, low income area and offered a number of services, from counseling to theater group productions to bible studies. The question was... is this a 'missional church' or a church at all. I was skeptical. I just don't see calling theater production and stand-up comedy groups church. It may be great for the community, but it just isn't church.
Then I ran across this lovely little article at ethicsdaily.com
Notice, when you read that one of his points is that sunday morning worship is not the most important thing we should be doing.
What does it mean to be church? This is the question that all this 'missional church'
talk has raised for me. On the one hand I'm all for an expanded understanding of church which now includes service in the community. But for me that service is part of the church's evangelism and its witness as well as its discipleship. We feed the hungry because this is where we are told that we will find Jesus. We actively collect money and use it to help others to show the world God's economy as explained in Acts 2. The service or mission is an extension of our worship and not an alternative to worship, or a better use of our time. My point is that we engage in social action and service in unique ways that are rooted in our worship. The practice of communion leads to our unique economic practice. Baptism teaches us how to be hospitable. Without the worship our service will look just like everyone elses... and our service is meant to look like Christ. How will we reflect the image of Christ if we do not make time to experience the presence of Christ in and through worship?