Last weekend, we took the kids to see “wall-e”. It was a pretty interesting film, and as do many things, it made me think of the Church. Without spoiling the bulk of the movie, the humans in the movie were living on a space ship going nowhere, all sitting on hover-float recliners and were being waited on hand and foot by robots. They literally never had to do anything for themselves, and they had no idea where they were going (and I doubt that they cared much about it either).
I wonder how our systems have actually helped to stunt mission rather than help generate it in deeper ways. How many times have we thought “if we can get our friends into our church, then they’ll hear this great information, and then things will change for them.” Or from a leadership perspective, how many of us have ever thought “if people just came to this thing at our church, then they’d start to get it.”? If we’re honest, we’ve mostly set up our churches based on this mindset! But I’m not convinced that giving people more information will actually lead to their transformation. I’m not convinced that our class systems for discipleship are ever going to draw people into a deeper understanding of what it means to follow G-d in the way of Jesus. I wonder if there’s a deeper way.
In a sense, what we’re saying with the “get people into our church” perspective is that they just need to get my notes on the matter (whatever their issues are). It suggests that the classes we offer are all there is to being a devoted Jesus follower. It takes away from the need to be known as a necessary element in my transformation. We establish the space ship not going anywhere in particular with people who are trapped in their hover-craft recliners! Please hear me… I am not knocking on the motivation of our church leaders… I’m challenging the necessity to rethink things to strengthen and beautify the bride of Christ.
So what should we do if classes or small groups aren’t the “final solution in discipleship”? I think the bigger issue here as leaders is that we help people get off their hovercraft recliners and into the lives of their friends. It’s not our duty to be the savior of the communities we live in. It’s our duty to follow G-d more deeply in the way of Jesus ourselves. It is our duty to point those we’re in relationship to do the same. It’s our duty to destroy any notion of dependency on us, and help them realize their unique ability to contribute to the larger effort… to shake them out of their recliners, pick them up and help them learn to walk again. Perhaps one day, after we’ve learned to walk again, we will learn to run. Perhaps when we begin to run, the kingdom will erupt. Perhaps this doesn’t have to be a dream I dream any longer…