As a youth pastor for the last 17 years, I have become tired and weary of the effectiveness of the program/event model of helping students becoming disciples that "love God and love their neighbors" to truest and fullest extent that Jesus originally sent his people to be and do. The "old" ways of doing things and measurements are ineffective or unrealistic in seeing people abide in Christ. When people say church should be “The Best Hour of Your Week." I wonder if they really know what Jesus intends the church to be... What if it wasn't meant to be that way? What if we were meant to strive and live to be Jesus to our neighbors day in and day out? The "Sunday" gathering wasn't supposed to be the focal point, but a part of what we do as Christians. What would happen if we were to operate under a new scorecard? What would it look like if we had another way or another mechanism of measuring the effectiveness that Christians had in influencing the culture and people in their sphere of influence for the sake of the gospel and the kingdom? What if inviting people to church for Sunday morning gatherings wasn't the mechanism to answering their questions, notions or thoughts about Jesus, or even the pinnacle of their maturation of being a Christian?
What if the scorecard wasn't a scorecard in the sense of how we use them, but more of gage of measuring the level of influence a community of people have in being accountable to a mission, and a divine mission at that... Could you imagine not necessarily being worried about how many people showed up to our gatherings, but more a "who isn't" because there was more concern for the individual rather than the filled room. What if the gathering wasn't the focal point at all, but was instead a piece of the mission, and not THE mission!
I know these are lot of questions and trust me I have a lot more. I have more questions than I do answers. Here is what I'm getting at, and not just me alone. There is a whole host of people who are and have begun to explore what Reggie McNeal calls the "congregational church" or Frank Viola's "institutional church" model or approach to Christianity. I'm not going to get into all the historicity behind their views. I feel it is not appropriate to cover this in this blog post. Viola's book, "Pagan Christianity" is full of research on this subject. I merely want to ask questions and begin more of an inner discussion within myself and with you if you'd like. I want to be a part of discovering where God's is taking His Church, and see how youth ministry and myself might fit into this new way or paradigm that God is desiring. Times are changing, culture is changing, people are changing, and the Church is changing, at least if she wants to be an influencer in the lives and eternal destination of the people around her.