Creating a Culture of Disengagment

Priming the Pump

I’ve been asking the Lord lately, “how do we ENGAGE more people at DCC?”  This, in fact, was one of my main prayer points of conversation with the Lord and Jamie as we were on our “Sabbath rest” (sounds a lot more spiritual than vacation, right?) this past week.  As is His usual MO in my life, through this conversation (with Him and others) my very foundation of what “engagement” means and looks like is being tested and reshaped.  I realized this week, that I’ve always looked at engagement in the church as showing up to the meetings, serving in this ministry or that one, and being a faithful financial contributor.  Those who are really ENGAGED are the ones who are there every time the doors are open

…*long pause while I’m hit with a ton of bricks*…

So, really, my idea of engagement has been what I’m beginning to call an “attractionist model”.  What I mean is that my idea of getting people to engage in the church boils down to getting them to come to a place where we have meetings (the more the better), and then getting them to participate in ways which keep those meetings vibrant, viable, and entertaining.  However, this was NEVER Jesus’ model.  If fact, he was constantly pulling people out of that model and setting them free to the reality of true and living communion with God and one another.

Consider the “church” of the time…

the synagogue.

Jesus constantly went into the synagogue (the gathering of believers, the ecclesia as it’s referred to in the NT – same word is used for the Christian Church), His purpose being to teach.  In fact, we read in Luke 4 (as well as other places) that this was actually His custom.  Yet, when He did so, we wasn’t entertaining people or giving them a teaching with which to feel better or learn to live better lives.  In fact, in the chapter that I just mentioned (Luke 4), Jesus says things so inflammatory and polarizing that the group (the ecclesia) actually gets up and runs Him out of the synagogue.  From there, they run Him out of the city to a high hill which they fully intended to throw Him from.  Jesus, nonchalantly shakes that off and walks through their midst unscathed never to darken Nazareth’s door again (at least not in that way).

a vehicle.

See, we talk about our mission, and how we’re reaching the “un-churched” or the “de-churched” or the “(fill in the blank)-churched”…whatever… It seems though that our mission is about getting people into the church and teaching or re-acclimating them to what it means to be CHURCHED.  In the first century, Jesus was the only one in the whole culture who was NON-CHURCHED, meaning that, while He saw the gathering for what it was and recognized it’s value, He knew that it wasn’t the end, but instead a vehicle to the end.  The gathering isn’t the destination…it’s A VEHICLE TO THE DESTINATION.  Jesus didn’t need to be assimilated to their culture, or speak their language, or be accepted into their midst because the whole thing was intended to draw people to Him, to His culture, to His language…to communion with Him…

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will take you to the synagogue so that you can hear some great music, have an opportunity for your children to play foosball, and hear a teaching that will help you cope with life and be a better person.’  Immediately…”

Oh…wait…sorry…wrong translation…

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him…”  – Matthew 4.18-19 (NASB)

Now listen, this is in no way meant to undermine the importance of the local gathering of believers.  Trust me, I believe that this is VITALLY important, for communion with Christ and discipleship.  What I feel that the Lord is doing in me is clearing out more of the religious cobwebs from my soul and showing me what the church really is and what’s it’s intended purpose is.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst…Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  –Matthew 18.20, 28.19 (NASB)

some questions to consider.

Here are a few questions to ponder as you prepare your heart to gather with the Beloved tomorrow…

Is my local church a gathering and a community which facilitates opportunities for communion with the Living Christ and discipleship?

If not, what’s my part to play in helping it to become so?

Do I have a consumerist mentality toward church?

Or, am I focused on Jesus, on following Him and helping others to learn and grow as they follow Him?