Mission not Maintenance

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  • December 11, 2008

When we talked about mission this past Sunday Night, one of the questions I asked was, “What happens if we get off mission? What happens if we have the gospel, and we have our church, but we’re not missionally engaging our culture?”

We’ll die.

That was one of the first answers that was shouted out. We chuckled for a bit at how harsh it sounded, and then began to unpack its truth. Someone else added, “We’ll become irrelevant.” After some conversation, everybody nodded their heads in agreement that irrelevance and death was the eventual fate of any church that was not perpetually committed to missionally engaging its culture.

That was sobering to think about. I mean, no church starts out hoping to fail. And yet, over time, one of the first things to go is a committment to mission.  Mission is the mother that births a church plant; but over time, the daughter swallows the mother. Eventually, programs, youth groups, couples fellowships, Bible studies, men’s ministries, women’s ministries, Sunday schools, all take precedence over mission. Energy and effort and resources are poured into catering to those inside the community and little thought is given to those outside. Mission becomes delegated to a certain wing of the church for certain members.

We were sobered by how easy it would be to drift from being a missional church to a maintenance church. Right now, we’re obsessed with mission. We’ve got like 15 people – how could we not be! Sheer survival necessitates that we grow and that means we have to be on mission. But picture 3 years from now if we’ve got a 100 people with us. Do you know how easy it would be for us to turn inwards and expend more energy on maintenance than mission. After all, something’s got to give and our tendency is to drift back to huddling with Christians rather than doing the hard work of loving and engaging our culture.

So then, we asked God to help us. We confessed that it’s easy for us to get off mission. We asked God to keep us from being a maintenance church.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road.

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