What does great Church look like?” is a question I’ve been asked a lot over the last few years. The problem I have with definitions is that the moment we begin defining “good Church” we put ourselves on one side of a line, thereby giving the impression that the other side is illegitimate.
When we talk restoration or revival it presupposes that something has been lost that needs to be restored or revived. To rebuild or restore means we must know what it is we are aiming for…what is this mark?
Sometimes it’s easier to define what we want by saying what we definitely don’t want. So with some confidence I can say that Church is not about the organisation, the meetings or the styles of those meetings. It is about the mission of Christ and the outworking of that mission through a vital local Church. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ – one life at a time. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken. It builds bridges to seekers and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalised of this world. Now it must be obvious that the outworking of this mission will take on, and must take on, different forms.
Karen and I have the privilege of being involved with Churches around the city – a few years ago perhaps, I’m not even sure I would have categorised some of them as Churches at all. Yet today I know they are powerful communities that represent Jesus to our city in a multifaceted way. One of the things I have discovered is that for Church to be “great” it needs to represent some of this diversity. We can never reach the whole city if we all look, think and behave the same. We need difference!
1 Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
An example of such a Church would be the one that Sean and Kirsty are busy planting in Westville North, having launched multiple missional communities around the city. When you read this article they will have been underway for a couple of months already. If you compare what they do, they are different, but their different style is essential – in order to reach that part of the city they must adjust to effectively speak to their community.