by Fred Peatross

I’m a recovering church addict who has intentionally exchanged church activity for time with the people Jesus misses the most. I’m learning more while swimming with the fish than I ever learned while attending Sunday school.

It’s counter-intuitive for church folks to disconnect from the church way of thinking and feeling but it’s the most effective way to incarnate the post-Christian world. Missional incarnation means trading church time for time in the water with the fish? It’s about choice. Will it be missional priority or church activity?

Missional-priority was Christianity’s original state.

Think Jesus.
Jesus spent most of his time with the “fish”
Think early disciples.
History reminds us that the first disciples were centrifugalâ&emdash;continually moving away from their spiritual centerâ&emdash;Jerusalem. The book of Acts chronicles their “road stories.”

Is there a church somewhere that would admit to not being missional? I can’t imagine a church anywhere saying they weren’t mission-minded, forget foreign missions–we have post-Christian America. All would affirm! “We’re missional.” But suppose a missional auditor, if there was such an occupation, made an annual visit to every church in America to assess the church’s budget and expenditures? Exposure would tell a new story.

Spiritual Formation, or Consumers and Spectators?

Swimming with the fish is a radically attractive way of living. Jesus was subversive and we were created to be a community of revolutionaries. But , for many, the sum total of American Christianity is the 11:00 AM Sunday gathering where spectators passively sit waiting for their Sunday homily. Prayers revolve around the sick, newborns and a safe return from a sunny vacation. Seldom, if ever, do prayers mention the missing.

Someone said, “True believers aren’t people who have a mission; rather, a mission has them.”

Church-Primary and Church-Secondary

  • Church-primary has become ten to twelve Christians sitting around a table at a restaurant every Sunday afternoon and Friday night
  • Church-secondary has become, at maximum, gathering with a Christian assembly 1-2 hours a week
  • I rarely give to the local church. I now give to emergent missional churches and missional-priority people who indigenously incarnate culture. Most churches overlook or cannot afford to give to missional-priority people because of the financial limitations created by staff salaries and budgetary priorities. But the greatest barrier to a clear Kingdom vision may be a misunderstanding of what a priority-missional community looks like.
  • Granted, most Christian churches have a missional aspect. But when one examines a missional-priority church more closely, one discovers a significant difference between a church that does mission and a missional- priority church. That difference begins at the theological foundation and ultimately finds expression in practices inherent to the broader Kingdom vision .
  • Missional-priority means more time with the missing than Christian friends
  • Missional-priority means stepping across the borders of the church campus to engage the “missing” on their territory.
  • Crossing borders to create safe places for the missing stands as a corrective to the prevailing mentality of the church and its uncanny addiction to centripetal ministries, which attempts to drag seekers into its gig.

Think Jesus!
Jesus wasn’t centripetal but centrifugal.

Fred Peatross is a Christian who lives and worships in Huntington, West Virginia. He has been a deacon, a missionary, a pulpit minister, and shepherd. Presently Fred is responsible for carrying out the Great Commission and directing a Nuclear Medicine department. He has been married to his wife Paula for twenty-seven years. He is currently giving his blog a rest.

This article is re-printed from Next-Wave E-Zine, which explores church and culture.


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