Overture 15 from Classis Northern Illinois asks that we “Mandate Denominational Agencies and the Board of Trustees to Develop Concrete Strategies to Carry Out the Great Commission.” This is supported with four grounds (reasons):
- The Great Commission IS the mandate delivered to us by the Risen Christ.
- We are declining in membership.
- The Great Commission is part of our denomination’s Ministry Plan.
- Focusing on “social and environmental issues” is a distraction and drain on our purpose.
- Yup. Arguing with Jesus is above my pay grade. So, yup.
- True, although misleading in a vacuum. The church in North America (Mainline, Catholic, Evangelical) is losing members. That’s worth wondering about. However, citing the anecdotal observation that “a sizable portion of CRC congregations and their leaders feel deep anxiety and confusion about the future” as reason may be counter-productive. The fact that “we’re all freaking out over here” may not be the atmosphere in which the best, most thoughtful strategic planning takes place. And I seem to remember Jesus saying something about worry. As I recall, he was against it.
- Yes, the Great Commission is a Part of our Ministry Plan but, as the overture itself states, “God rules over all,” which means a great commission focus that excludes
- “social and environmental concerns” might, in fact, undermine our denomination’s understanding of what all the Gospel entails. That maybe it is more than sinner’s prayers prayed and notches in our Bible covers. That maybe it is more than giant churches, full sanctuaries and Yearbook stats. That maybe the Great Commission begins with this one word: “Go.” Not “stay.” Not “safety in numbers.” But “Go.” And do you know the conclusion of the Great Commission? Say it with me now, all together: