Almost 20 years ago now, I made a conscience decision to fire myself vocationally from ministry. I had an instinct, a calling and a drive to create a response of the church to it’s present and emerging culture. It was clear to me that the word on the street was a growing distrust in the structures known as church. What could church look like for people who would never step foot in a church? I had a dream of a ‘missional’ church, a church without walls, where the posture was not asking people to come to church, but the church being ‘sent’ to where people were living/working/playing etc. Reframing the church from being perceived as a building or special event once a week to a community on mission doing all of life together. I believe fundamentally that church is not someplace you go, but a people you belong to.
I’m still a pastor, I just don’t get paid for it. I am sent into my world to care, love, inspire, teach, educate, inform, protect, marry, bury, baptize, pray for, pray with, pray behind their backs, create, build, enact mercy, stand for justice . . . all the things pastors should do in their culture. I have no walls to keep me in, in the words of John Wesley, ‘the world is my parish’. I don’t know about you, but I pastor a REALLY BIG church. I’m sent to the 7.8 billion people that God has put on earth that I may come into contact with. I work under the assumption that if we come into contact then the Creator wanted it to be and I’m available for the assignment he has in mind. Pastoral ministry is not a job, it’s a way of life. It’s a set of gifts given to you by your Creator and he gets to decide how they are used. We are characters in a divine story being written one chapter at a time.
I don’t really buy the categories for faith I grew up in. Churched or unchurched, saved or lost, believer or unbeliever, christian or nonchristian, religious or secular etc. I think we are all made up of the same substances of sinners and saints. To me, church is more like an AA meeting, you participate and belong because you need it. You start with the fact you have need, not because you’ve arrived at any great end. I share this need with all my neighbors, all of them. God isn’t mad, he just misses us. He wants us to know the unyielding affection he has for us, all of us. He wants to meet us at our place of need and do the mystical work of transformation together that is available to any of us through the Spirit of Christ. That’s my job, to walk around my community and culture and give away the Spirit of Christ, I don’t have anything more important to do. It’s the entire deal in pure form.
A church without walls. Missional church is sent to bars, pubs, coffee houses, marketplaces, stadiums, fields, parks, libraries, entertainment centers, neighborhoods, schools, famers markets, festivals, concerts, parties, parades, online forums, places of work, etc. etc. where all the saints and sinners hang out. There is no place where Christ’s extravagant love is not, therefore there is no condemnation or judgment. Leave your self-righteousness and judgment at home, God is love. We are a community invited to participate in the love and affection of the one who made us and doesn’t want to be without us. He isn’t mad, he misses us. All of us and everywhere.