Society has changed incredibly over the past two decades, and the missional challenge facing the church has changed along with it.
No longer can Christians safely assume that most people around them have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Christianity. The truth is, the larger part of our community by far has little or no knowledge of Christ and very little realistic access to the good news.
We might be tempted to think there are plenty of churches in our town or city, so how can people be missing out? But these ecclesial edifices can often be more of a hindrance to mission than a help when it comes to reaching an increasingly sceptical secular and network oriented population.
It is true that ‘church’, when done (very) well, can still attract people to join. Maybe up to 40% of the population will be able to overcome the obstacles that organised religion present newcomers, provided the seeking person has a reason and finds enough motivation to do so. But that leaves 60% of the population for whom ‘church’ is either at best unknown or at worst a compete turn off.
How do we, as followers of Christ, engage in effective mission in such a diverse and adverse context. Some hate us with a passion, whilst others are too busy with life to give any serious consideration to what we have to offer.
If Baptist churches are to minster effectively and fruitfully within the changed mission environment within which we find ourselves, we must be courageous, innovative and very sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
For the 60% it’s simply not good enough to think ‘if we do church well enough they will come!’ There are far too many barriers for most to make that leap. What’s more, this part of our society is increasing whilst those who may once have been reached by church as we know it decreases.
It is time for a radical rethink and overhaul in our self-awareness as church, and our approach to mission within postmodern Aotearoa.
What is church? What are the basic building blocks without which we cease to be church? What is the mission of the church? How can we effectively reach and disciple those who don’t fit our existing paradigm or practice as Baptist churches? And how do we help them engage in meaningful mission to their peers?
These are the challenges that face us if we are to become truly MISSION SHAPED churches in the 21st Century.
If you or your church would like support as you wrestle with what it means to become mission-shaped, the Waikato Baptist Association appointed Phil Pawley as MISSION SHAPED CHURCH COACH to assist pastors and churches explore what effective mission in postmodern Aotearoa New Zealand might look like.
Phil is Senior Pastor of Morrinsville Baptist Church and dedicates one day a week to this task.
PO Box 256 Morrinsville
Office: 07889 5683
Mobile: 022 607878