Saturday, December 01, 2012

Is It Mission Critical?

Discussing Article VIII (What is the Church?) of The Augsburg Confession, a basic statement of the Lutheran understanding of Christian faith, D.J. Lura writes:
"In both the hearing of the Word and the receiving of the Sacraments, the Church experiences Christ as he has commanded.  Everything else that happens at church is [in] Luther’s Latin phrase ‘adiaphora,’ which means ‘it isn’t necessary.’"*
How much of what is done by, with, and in churches is critical to the mission Jesus has given to us to make disciples by sharing the Gospel in its purity and the Sacraments as Christ intended?

And how much of what churches do could be tossed out as unnecessary and, sometimes, even hurtful to the mission Christ has given to us?

Churches often spend so much time either maintaining traditions or carving out "seeker-sensitive" empires that they forget why Christ established His Church in the first place.

Reading the Bible and the confessions of my own tradition remind me of this and incite me to pray and to work toward doing only that which is "mission critical." But we all have so many habits associated with "being Church" that excising the unnecessary and focusing on the essential can be difficult.

Every congregation and every pastor should periodically ask themselves, "Is what I'm doing central to the mission Christ has given to us? Or should we bag it in favor of doing what is central to that mission?"

*Lura, DJ (2011-09-05). 'So What's a Lutheran, Don'tcha Know?' (Kindle Locations 652-654).  . Kindle Edition.

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