Something has been missing.
It has been for a little while, maybe a couple of years.
I don’t think it happened all at once. It was more of a drift. An imbalance.
I spoke recently with a pastor friend who expressed a similar drift… the drift away from radical missional engagement.
When New City Church started our deep desire was to see the gospel radically transform the people around us and even our city. Our passion for mission had an edge to it. We were willing and even excited to involve ourselves in places that churches weren’t typically involved. We were willing and even excited to engage with people that other churches wouldn’t engage with. In fact we started New City for that purpose! We planted ourselves and the gospel in the heart of a broken and broke down city because we believed God wanted to do something radical to rescue fallen people far from Jesus.
Below is a blog post from our first year as a church:
The Power of the Kingdom Present
Acts 26: 28 Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."
I had a great conversation this morning with a downtown friend. He may or may not be a Christian - though spiritual and having a 'Christian' background, I think C. wrestles with Christianity. He is also intrigued by New City's relationship with downtown. So, in the conversation this came up:
C: So, explain to me your vision for the church and the city?
Me: Well, the short is city renewal - we describe it as transformation. In leadership, we often ask the question, 'If the Kingdom of God were present in the city today, what would it look like?' We believe that the church should be a glimpse of the Kingdom, therefore we should see tangible transformation because of the presence of the church.
C: Like what?
Me: Well, if the Kingdom of God were present in Macon, would there be homeless people?
Me: We don't believe that our presence will eliminate homelessness in Macon, just as we can't usher in the true and final Kingdom. However, if the Kingdom is present in and through us, then we should make a positive difference in the homeless community.
If the Kingdom were fully present there would be no crime. So, as a church, we ask, 'How can our presence make a difference in downtown crime?'
If the Kingdom were fully present, would there be ugly, broken buildings?
Me: So we desire to see a tangible change to the buildings downtown. We will - through volunteers - help the Facade Squad when they line up facades to be worked on.
We believe that the church, as a glimpse of the Kingdom should be an agent of transformation in our city.
C: Keith, that's why I love you guys.
Hearing what you say makes me want to believe. I feel like the King that Paul pleaded his case to.
The conversation was soon interrupted and C was out the door. I was awed that such a Kingdom vision would carry such power.
29 And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."
I miss those conversations.
I still have them on some level, but I cannot help but feel my own drift from radical missionality - from believing that God was going to do something only he could do to save the people around me.
Worse, I feel that I have contributed, as a leader, to the drift of our church from radical missionality. For even that possibility, I am repenting!
I’m praying that God would re-ignite that passion for the miraculous salvation of those far, far from Him.
I’m praying that as a church, our hearts would burn for those who don’t love and follow Jesus.
I’m praying that we would engage the people that other churches won’t.
I’m praying that we would be overwhelmingly uncomfortable with the lostness all around us.
I’m praying that we would be willing to cross lines and take chances for the sake of those around us and for the glory of our great God.
I’m praying that for myself, for you.
I’m praying that for us - that we would be a people snatching others from the flames of judgment (Jude 1:23).
Lord, may we never be a church that does nothing more than church stuff for church people. Help us to once more be radically missional - to believe that you want to do amazing things, miraculous things to bring your children close to you. Set our hearts on fire.