I’ve been reading the book Becoming a Contagious Church by Mark Mittelberg for the last week or so. As I have shared before, I usually read several books at a time and on occasion books will complement one another in a really neat way. This book, Contagious Church and So Beautiful by Len Sweet are having an exponentially compounding and complementary effect on one another. It’s interesting, exciting, inspiring, and challenging. It’s hard for me to describe the rush of thoughts, ideas, and interactive thinking that are taking place in my head as I read these two books alongside one another. When I toss in a provocative parable from Pete Rollins’ The Orthodox Heretic the challenges to my thought processes are multiplied even more. It has been a long time since I have stumbled upon a mix of books that have motivated and encouraged me to such a degree.
One of the things that I am refocused on and latching a hold to is mission. I’ve shared repeatedly over the years of my blogging and journaling how much I have been impacted by Jesus’ words “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you…” There are numerous other instructions from Jesus that I’ve quoted that fall into that quote category as well. It’s easy to get sidetracked from the mission; it shouldn’t be, but it is. It doesn’t help when there are mission saboteurs in your camp either. Our God is a “going-sending” God. He made us to take up the mantle of His Mission and assume our destiny as people of the reconciliation and restoration. We are Kingdom Builders and we should never ever forget it. Here is what Mark Mittelberg shares as a warning from his experience…
“Invariably, when you declare the mission, draw a line in the sand, and make some changes needed to reach more people, a few members will refuse to accept it…”
“I hate to say it as much as I hate to see it, but there are some people who profess to be Christians yet don’t care one whit about people outside of God’s family. They are typically self-centered and think the church revolves around them and exists solely to meet their needs. They probably wouldn’t actually say it, but their attitude projects the message that they want what they want, and everyone else can go to hell-literally. These people need to be confronted for their sinful attitudes and called to repentance (Galatians 6:1). Hopefully they will turn around and begin to embrace God’s heart of love for lost people. If this happens, everybody wins. But if they refuse, you must hold firmly to God’s guidance and their priorities for this Word for your church.”
Situations like this (I know from experience) test us. These moments expose the grit and crud in our hearts too as we are attacked, questioned, slandered, and criticized. This is a time to not lose sight of the mission and remain focused. It is also a time to allow the Holy Spirit the permission to do delicate and sometimes painful grace surgery on our hearts. Here’s the time and opportunity to learn how to truly “turn the other cheek” and love those who would despise you. Here are a couple more points from Mr. Mittelberg on the topic.
“Be advised, though, that if these people leave (your church), they’ll likely do so with a very different perception of reality than you and the other leaders in your church have. Some will be very vocal about what they may describe as you or your pastor’s overbearing leadership, your unbiblical ideas, your compromise with the culture, or-fill in the blank. Some of what they say will probably shock you… Listen to their complaints graciously, but avoid giving an immediate response. Search your heart to see if there’s any grain of truth in what they’re saying, and, if so, address it humbly. Then do your best to gently but firmly confront any errors or misrepresentation in what they are saying-and after that you must move on. Be patient, but don’t get side-tracked. You have to keep your focus on the ministry God has given you.”
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you…” Jesus (John 20:21)