I’ve noticed a disturbing trend online and in the church in general; it’s the controversial issues that get all the attention. I know this isn’t new. I grew up in the 90s, and even though I was in grade school I remember hearing about our church potentially leaving the denomination over the women in office issue. At the time I was taking an advanced English class at Kalamazoo College. Looking back I wonder what my Jewish professor thought about an eighth-grader choosing to do her final paper on the women in office debate in the Christian Reformed Church! (I really wish I had kept that paper).
Sometimes I wonder if young adults leaving the church has more to do with being sick of hearing people bickering than anything to do with the worship style or lack of “authenticity.” Or maybe authenticity is code for not making the main thing, the main thing. We’ve all been around couples who constantly pick at each other, and we make excuses for leaving the room when it starts up.
Take The Network and the online Banner; the majority of the comments are about Genesis, creation care, or social issues. I don’t mean to imply that these issues are unimportant; rather, that perhaps we are giving them more attention than they deserve.
When I was being trained as a sixteen:fifteen missions coach, I remember thinking that the section on the biblical importance of missions was too long. The church’s mission is the Great Commission and the Great Commandment; duh! Upon further reflection, I think it’s a good reminder.
What if, instead of expending so much energy on debating social issues, we spent a bit more energy on building relationships in our community to reach those who do not know Christ?
What if, instead of trying so hard to prove that we are right on this or that issue, we tried hard to understand the context of our global brothers and sisters in Christ as they try to reach their communities, and support them as we are able?
There was an overture this past year that asked Synod to “Mandate Denominational Agencies and the Board of Trustees to Develop Concrete Strategies to Carry Out the Great Commission.”
I wonder, how many of our churches have a strategy of their own? Yes, it’s important to come together as a denomination for ministry, but it is the local church that has the resources and people power to truly reach the people in their neighborhoods and around the world.
What is YOUR church doing to carry out the great commission?