It seems like there’s an increasing trend in the church to place community and mission on opposite ends of a spectrum and then invite individual followers of Jesus and whole churches to decide where they fall on that spectrum. I know plenty of churches who say they’re all about community – Sunday morning is warm and welcoming, it’s easy to join a community group with plenty of friendly people, and there’s one epic hangout after another to make sure you’ve always got something to do. I also know plenty of churches who say they’re all about mission – Sunday morning is simple and no frills, it’s easy to start serving with a team of really committed people, and there’s an endless series of opportunities to serve, sacrifice and give. It’s so convenient – all you have to do is pick the church that’s the best fit for you and have a great time/make your life count.
It’s an attractive but deadly trap. Community church may be a blast but it never accomplishes anything and ultimately forgets why it exists. Mission church may do a lot of good but people don’t seem all that healthy and end up feeling like a cog in someone else’s wheel. At the end of the day, Jesus didn’t die to create a social club or an impersonal organization of exhausted people.
Jesus died to create a community on mission.
Maybe more accurately, Jesus died to pursue His mission through a new community we would call the church. Jesus didn’t create a mission to keep the church busy. He created a church to pursue His mission. Community and mission are so intertwined that any attempt to pursue one without the other leaves us missing both.
Here’s how all of this connects for us at Restoration City – many of our mission problems are really community problems and many of our community problems are really mission problems. Let me show you what I mean:
- A lot of us who are struggling to find community aren’t serving. I’ll often hear people say they want to get the community box checked first and then they’ll start serving. Wrong! Start serving and you’ll likely find your community through that team. When people tell me they’re having trouble connecting at Restoration City, my first question isn’t which Community Group they’re in but where they’re serving. Want to deepen your community? Engage with God’s mission.
- On the other hand, there are some of us with a deep passion for a ministry but we’re frustrated that no one else seems to be jumping in to help. It’s maddening – God’s broken your heart over something and no one else seems to care. I’ve come to learn that the answer to that is not an announcement in our gathering on a Sunday morning but to get more engaged with a Community Group. People want to get to know you before they’ll follow you. Want to engage others with God’s mission? Deepen your community.
When we stop seeing community and mission as two ends of a spectrum and start seeing them as two sides of the same coin, it unleashes something powerful in our lives and churches. Don’t pick between community and mission. Join a community that’s on mission together.