Tuesday, December 2, 2014

For Such a Time as This

When my friend asked me to read and review his new book, I was first surprised and amazed! 
Surprise was because I had not received such an invitation before.  (I have read and reviewed books that have been “around for a while” and others had shared their insight; but not one just being published.)  Amazement was due to his trust in me to give some constructive thoughts and encouragement that might draw others to read.

For Such a Time as This…Aligning Church and Leadership for Missional Ministry by Ircel Harrison is a short, concise book which seeks to encourage the Church – God’s representation in our society; my church; your church – to BE what it is to be.  Use of the term “missional” is seen throughout the book speaking of “missional churches” and “missional Christians.”  While this is a fairly new term, it is one which simply means that one is involved in God’s mission – the redemption of the world.  It is not one program or set way of doing anything.  It is being a redemptive presence in the world in which one finds itself.

This book is not a resource kit or packaged program one would use to go and “make” one’s church become missional.  It is a small volume filled with encouragement for the church to do some introspection to determine what it is doing well, what it is not doing, and what it is doing that no longer is making an impact on the Kingdom of God.  Harrison writes, “It may mean identifying one thing the church is doing that is no longer needed and invest that time and energy into a new outwardly-focused ministry.”  I paused to reflect how many “things” the churches I have been a part of all my life that continue to do “things” just because.  There is no kingdom impact, no one finds a deeper spiritual journey because of, or other things are not allowed to be scheduled because of it.  What if we were to face the reality that some things we do once had a meaningful, life-changing purpose, but now are just someone’s sacred cow of service?

The author encourages those who wish to align church and leadership into missional ministry to think outside the box.  “We've never done it that way before,” may just be the beginning point of that one ministry opportunity right before our eyes.

Building and empowering leadership is a key the author writes passionately about.  He states that as a whole the church has done a good job of Bible teaching “but little to equip lay leaders.”  This topic is one which not only needs more elaboration, but needs volumes written and seminary courses taught to both new and experienced clergy.  The pastoral call from Scripture states to “equip the saints…” but for many reasons, this role has been overlooked or pushed to the back of the priority lists.  Early New Testament followers were not elected to a position but were empowered to a ministry.  How can we in church leadership shift our focus to empower and equip our membership to do the ministry God has ordained them for?

It IS time for the church and its leadership to align itself with God for the missional ministry only they have been called and ordained to do.