In the movie, The Matrix, the character Morpheus said to Neo, “You are here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. There is something wrong with the world, but you don’t know what it is. But it’s there, like a splinter in your mind.”
Most pastors know there is something wrong, or I should say, missing, in the way we are “doing church”, and more importantly, the way most of our church members are living as Christ’s followers. We cannot explain it, or put our finger on it, but it is there, “like a splinter in our mind.” Instinctively we want to get it out, and we are willing to trying anything to relieve the pain. However, we cannot seem to find it!
The “splinters” in my own mind have to do with how to be missional every day. For me it is about learning to be intentional in seeing myself as being on mission; it’s about bringing the presence of the living Christ into my world; and most importantly, about connecting and building relationships with individuals in the world God has placed me.
Getting rid of this splinter is so difficult because of the church culture we have inherited and are now passing on to the next generation. I call it the consumer-driven, self-indulgent church culture, a culture that enslaves us and effectively keeps us from being fully empowered agents of the Kingdom of God. Sadly “belonging to a church” has become more about what is in it for my family, and me than it is about serving our communities. Folks today look for the church with the best youth program, the best children’s ministries, the best preaching, music, etc.
Church leaders have attempted to work around the splinter, and ease our consciences by leading our members to become involved in “missional” events at our church, volunteering at the local homeless shelter, or even going on a “mission trip” to a third-world country. However, being missional is not about what we do, it is about who we are!
Getting the splinter out requires changing our lifestyles, our buying habits, and our preferences so we free up both our time, and our budgets, to allow us to give, serve and live, and be on mission 24/7.
The bottom line is this; everyone who becomes a follower of Jesus, is a missionary! His call to “Follow Me” defines who we are. Our culture, and sometimes our brand of denominationalism, however, teaches us something different.
If we ever hope to see our churches realize their true potential, we must focus on helping our members discover how to live their lives as missionaries! What our churches need today is not more members, rather more missionaries.
It is not so much that the church has a mission but that God’s mission has a church.
This is the “splinter” in our mind. This is the greatest “blind spot” of the church today. This is what we must get out! When we do, we will recover Christ’s original purpose Jesus has for His church.
Let me encourage you to ask God to examine your heart about your responsibility to influence your family, friends, neighborhood, school, and work place with the Gospel. Ask yourself how you are doing in the area of your witness to the people in your sphere of influence. Let me invite you to be a missionary 24/7, and to consider every area of your life a holy calling from God – your mission field.
Only as church members like yourself embrace God’s missionary calling in your life, will the church begin to impact and transform the world as we are called to do in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20
NOTE: This article can be heard in audio on Mission Magazine Radio.