The Mission of the Ecclesia

Today, I’m musing about how much energy, time, and emotional investment is wasted by God’s people attempting to make one facet of the church’s mission the dominate or total focus of its resources.

Personal Mission – Gifts of the Spirit

This effort can present itself simply as spiritual gifts on high octane fuel, so much of the charisma of mercy gets pushed to the forefront that get into a “we are all missing it” mode if everyone isn’t being kind to every stray cat they see on the street.

Or, prophecy gets pushed to the forefront so “we are all missing it” if we aren’t carrying a long stick around declaring judgement on every sinner or we don’t “get a word” about brushing our teeth before we pick up the toothpaste.

Or, worship gets pushed to the front so “we are all missing it” if we aren’t worshipping 24/7 by someone’s particular definition of “worship.” Add to that the charismas of teaching, healing, giving, hospitality, etc – well, you get the idea.

As you read that paragraph of exaggerations, which statement caused you to want to argue with me?

I’ve been in ministry all my life, so I’ve had countless opportunities to be “straightened out” by the passionate about where the time, attention, money, and leaders should be invested in the kingdom. Every week another round of books or publishing, conferences attended, and blog written to straighten us all our. Pile on the crazy Facebook posts, and it is a wonder we are shooting one another in the streets to purify the Body from those who “are missing it.”

Just a tiny moment of good thinking would reveal that we should all work together in different gifts to accomplish the larger mission of the ecclesia, not starving out one aspect of that mission to better emphasize our personally dominate mix of gifts.

I am only discussing spiritual gifts as an example, of course, not to infer that is the great definer of personal mission.

Corporate Mission

On another level, each ecclesia gathered together with an assignment within the greater kingdom of God will take on a certain personality, character, and emphasis consistent with their assignment.

So, ministries often spend a great deal of energy comparing themselves, and we get the sense that “they are missing it” if they aren’t giving one facet of the mission of the ecclesia the same emphasis or priority in the assembly where they are assigned that we are.

This is the struggle for mission at the ministry level that has been cause for ten thousand splits and justifications for bad protocol and terrible ugliness. Usually when people intend to be ugly they need to justify their ugliness with a claim that the people to whom they are being ugly “are missing it.”

In this way, the political spirit governs the way the kingdom functions in people’s minds, creating division, polarization, and subcultures within the culture of the kingdom.

Mission to Cities, Regions, and Nations

At a higher level, the ecclesia has mission assignment within a city, region, or nation, so we must also understand mission as it relates to cultures. Jesus assigned us to disciple cultures: “whereever you go, disciples the ethnos.” Jesus sends the ecclesia into the world to establish His kingdom and train people to live consistent with His kingdom culture.

The point is that few people grasp mission at each of these levels. Some do not wish to be bothered with the big picture at all. They have no time for cities, regions, and nations. Some do not wish to be bothered by what other ministries are doing, content to merely build their own castle. Some individual Christians, a growing number I fear, have concluded the whole system is broken and they just need to be accountable to Jesus and a few friends and family about “loving Jesus, loving each other” as if that is the sum total of the kingdom until we all get to rest on eternal vacation on the beautiful isle of somewhere.

So, are we all missing it? Are any of us getting it right? If so, who is right? And, who is missing it? The truth is that none of us is completely right or completely wrong. Nor have I mentioned other critical factors such as “the seasson of the Father” and the reality that God emphasizes people, places, and priorities Himself according to how He is dealing with people, ministries, and cities, regions and nations.

The emphasis and priority changes according to God’s strategy for His kingdom mission in the world, in any generation: while the greater mission is constant, the emphasis and priorities change.

The First Principle of Abundance

Error has polluted our thinking, a worldview or “the way things work” mindset that is contrary to God’s thinking now causes a great deal of the conflict among the saints. It is the concept of limited supply.

That is, the thinking that there is only so much available so we have to wrestle with everybody else to get the portion necessary to fulfill our part, or the concept that there is a limited pie and anyone with less that a “fair share” is greedy or stealing reveals kingdom injustice.

This thinking will cause you to envy saints you perceive have too much while you have too little, and lead you to a sense of entitlement that you deserve equal anointing, gifts, attention, and honor. While we are all equal heirs of the grace of life, we are completely varied in what and how much we receive.

This philosophical, worldview error is foreign to the Bible but has become a foundational error in Christian thinking in much of the modern American church. This is the basis of socialism that some saints feel compelled to espoused. Unfortunately, this is the basis for misguided “social injustice” movements within American church-anity, playing into the hands of God’s global enemies.

I’m not talking politics here. I’m talking spiritual dynamics. This is a political spirit function, no doubt, but the application of this worldview to the mission of the Church, as all political spirit functions, produces division through contradiction, contrast, comparison, and competition.

The idea that there is a limited pie and everyone should have an equal piece of the limited pie is an insult to God’s infinite grace, Soveriegnty and wisdom strategy for His kingdom resources. There is no limited pie!

God is a God of abundance, and the abundance is available within the kingdom for the purposes of the kingdom.

When we accept this limited supply error into our worldview, thinking this is “the way things work,” we develop errors in our definitions of leadership and justice that directly affect our understanding of family and ecclesia, and redefine the mission of the ecclesia in fundamental ways.

With regard to the ecclesia, we insist that what we are passionate about gets a fair share, but the fair share inevitably becomes a focus of dissatisfaction because we always see unfulfilled need. We jump to the conclusion that God’s resources must be misused if the need is not met, so someone is getting an unfair portion of the limited pie.

I have heard the statement made that “if only” every Christian did their fair share, poverty would be eliminated. What a ridiculous thought! What a misleading error! The basis for this statement is built with faulty presuppositions. Through this device of deception, the enemy makes us the enemy adn turns us against one another.

So, we fall right into political spirit traps of competition, comparison, contrast, and contradiction. Then, we waste our efforts in vain attempts to straighten out things and people at a level or scope far beyond our assignments. We work to redefined leadership dynamics, priorities of purpose, and strategies of the kingdom. We, then, must redefine “kingdom” in order to be consistent with our faulty philosophy.

It follows naturally that we would then examine Scripture to make it also fit our worldview, discover a way to interpret, understand, contextualize, and apply what the Bible says in ways that justify our redefined mission. This is why the Bible seems to mean whatever any given flavor of Christian says it means, and the Truth of the Word is lost because we have made the Bible a book of opinion to those who need to hear it most. People dismiss God’s Word because they observe that it says whatever the people using it to prove their philosophical emphasis say it means.

The Way Back is Here!

The way back is here, and I don’t have it. I want to be part of it, but I am not saying, like everyone else, that I have it and other do not.

Jesus has the way back ’cause He is the Way. What is gonna blow our minds is that His way is going to feel pretty contradictory to ours for twenty years or so! And, a whole bunch of good people are going to continue to waste time, money, passion, and energy fussing about their own definition of mission.

The way back for you personally is not that hard. Honor what God puts into people and insist that people who function in spiritual gifts live functional lives. Gifts do not function in a vacuum. They function within a Body in called together assemblies where people are accountable for more than a spiritual language, mercy, giving, and hospitality. They are accountable for obedience, submission, love, and honor. And, separate yourself personally from people who produce division.

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Dr. Don

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