Thursday, July 26, 2012

Common Perceptions of the Church from those Outside the Church

Dan Kimball lists six common perceptions of the church from those who are not a part of the church. He lists people's opinions of the church as:
  1. The church is basically organized religion and has a political agenda
  2. The church is judgmental and negative
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females
  4. The church is homophobic
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally
Kimball's list comes from his book, They Like Jesus, but Not the Church (2007, page 69).

Each of these perceptions of the church, whether actually true or not, keep people from being a part of the church. I'm not going to spend time on this post defending these points, because I think some of them are true of Christianity (atleast in some place, at some point in time), and are in fact an indictment on the Church Universal. While at times, Christians may be embarassed about the church, Kimball points out, there is never reason to be embarrased about Jesus (page 60).

The quest the church must be on today, is a quest towards embracing a missional view of the gospel.

What is Missional?

Missional, is about Christians understanding that they are missionaries and do not 'do' mission, but rather live out mission. Missional means we see ourselves as representatives of Christ (2 Cor 5:20). Missional means we understand we are a 'sent' people; sent by Jesus into our community (John 20:21). Missional means we engage with the Missio Dei (Mission of God), which means God has gone before us into the world, and we partner with God in mission. Missional means we are in the world, but not of it. Missional means we live with Christ 'in' us, and therefore everywhere we go is an opportunity for God to be honoured through us (adapted from page 20, Dan Kimball). (Have a read of my in depth post called, 'The Incarnation, Incarnational Mission and its Dynamic Impact on the Church').

We could say more. We could off load our hurts. We could even try and defend our deeply held convictions. Whatever the case may be, the church would do well in building credibility for the message in which it proclaims, if it learnt and enacted missional living, that is birthed from a biblical perspective and tempered with grace and humility.



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