One of my daily prayers is that God would add to the church those who are being saved. It's obvious from where I draw this prayer, but it leaves me with a conundrum.
On the one hand I long to see the church renewed and reenergised. I long to see people who are far from God draw close and find faith, enter into a growing relationship with God and fellowship with others. I long to see them share in corporate worship, ministry and mission.
On the other hand filling a building with people once a week is not my understanding of the church. A large Sunday congregation is not my definition of success and not, I believe, the goal of the church.
I was listening to a short piece by a well-known missional thinker who quoted an unnamed source who said, "Your missional effectiveness is directly proportional to your relational capacity." Shall I translate? We can't reach people we don't know.
Traditionally, the way we have done church diminishes our relational capacity, we simply do not meet, or spend enough time with non-churched people. The result is ineffective mission.
More and more we find ourselves distanced from our communities, not just in terms of what we believe, but also culturally. There are barriers to cross, cultural and theological. We simply cannot wait for the unchurched to cross these barriers in order to get to our buildings and our meetings. We must find ways to cross those barriers first. And fast!
I'm thinking of joining the local Ramblers group, finding an evening class to do, and yes, spending as much time as possible in Costa Coffee. At least it's warm in there!
I long for the day when our church programmes are so light, so self-sustaining, that it takes up very little of our energy to engage in church as we know it. That would release so much potential into mission, would be so exciting and possibly church changing in the process.