One of the unintended consequences of conventional churches and their focus to grow is the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, message that unreached people are targets that need to be “reached” and “brought in.”
I heard the atheist, Matt Caspar (Jim and Caspar Go to Church), speak at a conference and describe how he asked his new Christian friend, “Am I your friend or your project?” His question reflects the way Christians have gone about relating to the world around them and the perception that unChristians have as a result.
On the one hand, there is the reality that the Father’s heart is broken for children who are separated from Him. This is central to a Biblical worldview in which Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost, invites us to join Him in the missional adventure of taking His good news and compassion to a broken, truly-lost world. God is not simply a God on a mission, He is a missional God at His very loving core.
However, when this message is coupled with an organized church’s “vision to grow”, it is so easy for our passion to love and bless people to take on a religious, weighty sense of performance that comes more out of “earning points” by counting conversions, baptisms, and pew sitters than simply desiring to see people (from a place of love) truly blessed and transformed.
I realize this may seem like splitting hairs, but I think the implications are enormous. The fact is, Christians do want to love and bless people… genuinely. There is something in all of us that enjoys the prospect of simply being people who care, love, give, help, bless, assist, and really make a difference in the lives of people around us. We do not relish the idea of helping people for the sake of manipulating them or trying to get them to do something so that we can feel good about ourselves religiously. We really do want to love and bless people!
I share this because, for me, moving out of an institutional mindset into more of an organic one has freed me to fully enjoy the missional adventure of loving people. I am not feeling the pressure of “results” or feeling that institutional “shadow” lurking within me asking about specific, tangible outcomes. I am finding great joy in seeking and discovering ways to just encourage and love people—no strings attached.
One might ask if that means I have lost my missional intentionality. I would have to say, that insofar as mission is about truly loving someone and wanting what is best for them, then the answer is “no.” I might even suggest that, by moving into the realm of real relationships (love, care, a desire to bless) I might even be more “effective” if one is looking at some kind of external indicator. But that, again, misses the point. More significant is the joy of being set free to naturally care about people and allowing God to work within that relationship super-naturally as He wills.
The bottom line is that one of the most significant aspects of simple/house church is a generation of believers who can step outside the walls and into the world with the mission of love on their hearts 24/7.