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The Missional Necessity Of Keeping People Out Of Church

Want the gospel to go forwards? Lock your church doors.

Here's Vishal Mangalwadi on how the gospel transformed church and culture at the time of the reformation:

Before the Reformation, Roman Catholic Churches were open seven days a week in Holland. The devout went to the church whenever they wanted to meet with God. They would light their candles, kneel, and pray. After the Reformation, the Church leaders decided to lock their churches on Sunday nights. Not because they became less religious, but because they became more religious.

Reformers learned from the Bible that the church was not the only place to meet with God. If God had called you to be a woodcutter, then on Monday morning you ought to meet with God in the forest. If he had called you to be a shoemaker, then on Monday morning he expected you to meet with him on the work bench. If he had called you to be a homemaker, you needed to serve God while taking care of your window plants. (From The Book That Made Your World)

Whenever the gospel is on mute, people will hover around the church, desperate to keep the delicate flame of faith alive. They'll come and "do their bit", light their candle, keep up their devotional practices. The church provides their holiness perch and they're desperate to stay on top of it. Needless to say, the mission of the church is paralysed by such thinking.

But the gospel actually means locking the doors of your church. It tells us: "You are not on a holiness perch, you are in Christ. You are sent. You walk in Him into your true calling. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." And so the mission of the church is served by shutting its doors.

Of course, five centuries on from the reformation we still find many reasons to keep our doors open. There are protestant "candles" we feel we must light. And the missionary flow we endorse runs dry so quickly.

This goes deeper than a scheduling problem. It's not just solved by resolving to hold fewer midweek meetings. It took a reformation to shift the practice of those Dutch churches and it will take a reformation of our own churches to shift our mindset. It's more than a question of administratively releasing people. Are we spiritually releasing them? Do we preach the kind of gospel that liberates our people? Can we genuinely say to them "Go in peace" because we've given them profound gospel confidence? Can we lock the door after them and say "Enjoy! Create! Serve! Love! Share! Be blessed in Christ! See you next week!"?

Or will we keep our doors open, running a thousand church activities and then wondering why no-one has any deep friendships with non-Christians?

On the basis of Christ's gospel and for the sake of His mission, let's lock our church doors.


4 thoughts on “The Missional Necessity Of Keeping People Out Of Church

  1. Phillip Mutchell

    1. Jesus sent his apostles, Mt:28 Mk:16
    2. Paul instructs that one should remain in the occupation in which he was called, and Paul is the Gentiles' apostle, YOU and I haven't been sent, cease from making others 'two-fold the child of hell'.
    3. Lovely the way you skip over the economic factors; Protestantism in any form was the release of Capital in the form of interest charges, and Joseph was the first to create national debt and bondage.
    4. Unless you have Jesus returning in AD.70 and thus fulfilling his prophecies he must be considered a false prophet and hence the Jews were right to kill him - and if he did return, then the New Covenant is as you suggest entirely spiritual, and a matter of God fulfilling his promise 'you shall be gathered one by one O sons of Israel.'
    Absolute predestination Jerome so chill, as the Jamaican brain surgeon said after a big spliff and red stripe 'relax man me operate in a second.' Peace

  2. Pingback: The BIG resource on discipleship, mission & church | The Simple Pastor

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