As I write this I have just come back from the mission trip. The trip is always a special time to get away from life, serve others, and have great fellowship around outstanding food. Every year on the trip I do lead some devotions to frame the experience. This year I wrote those out of a book by my Doctor of Ministry teacher Len Sweet called So Beautiful. Here are some highlights from my talks and from Len’s excellent book.
All computers (and smart phones) are based on an Operating System. This is the baseline programming on which all of the other programs work. If you have ever switched from a Windows system to an Apple system you understand how different operating systems can be. Even the same programs work differently based on the operating system. As Christians, I believe we have been using an operating system that does not work. It is the APC system.
- Attractional- We have built our churches around the Field of Dreams philosophy that “if we build it they will come.” The reality is that this is not how Christians are called to do church. The other reality is that in a post-Christian West people are not coming to church just because you build it.
- Propositional- We have made our faith about believing certain things. We define who is in and who is out of our circle based on beliefs. We have boiled salvation down to a set of steps you have to believe.
- Colonial- When European countries came to the new world they wanted to make the new world like their home countries. Missionaries did the same thing. They would convert the heathens both to Christianity and to the English culture. Even today our churches are built to welcome and to form people that are like we are.
I believe that we need an MRI. In fact, the MRI is the Biblical operating system:
- Missional- Jesus tells his disciples to go into all the world. We are missionaries. We are ambassadors to a world that needs Jesus. Yes our churches should be welcoming and well kept, but we are not in the business of attracting people. The gospel is not always attractive to people. Our job is to go and get them.
- Relational- Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples. It is not about believing certain things, though beliefs are important. It is about relationship with Christ and with others. The beliefs follow and flow out of the relationships. We need people to come to our church, make a home here, and then wrestle with what they believe.
- Incarnational- Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples and baptize them. The idea is that people are cleansed and reborn where they are. Just as Jesus entered the flesh, we need to be entering into the world around us. We don’t make the world around us in our image, as if the gospel was a plant in a pot that is transplanted. The gospel is a seed that might grow up differently wherever it grows. Church might look and sound different in different places. Our job is to be Christians and to be a church that authentically and organically fits where we are planted.
It is my prayer that we would live out of a biblical operating system in our lives and in our churches.