“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

“… as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

I’ve never understood how we, self-designated followers of Christ, can be so blind. By Holy Decree He sends us into the world. The reason is obvious—the world is loath to come to us.

And yet, even after all the preaching on the Great Commission (“Go into all the world …”) that goes on within the four walls of the Church House, we still stubbornly cling to our modus operandi: “invite them to come to church.”

What if we did church Jesus’ way? What if instead of welcoming believers to sit on pews as spectators of religious ceremony, we sent them out into the world? No coats, no money, no plans—just a mission and a message. And our assembling together was not about us but, rather, about God’s work in the world through us?

What if we trained people for ministry in similar fashion? Instead of pulling them out of the world and sending them away from the church to learn about God from a book, what if we sent them into the world out of the church to learn about God from firsthand experience?

Instead of spending days in classrooms they could spend nights on the streets. The clear message would be that God does not live in Seminaries or churches; God lives in the world. The church exists so that people have a place to try and make sense of their experience of the divine in the world, as well as a community to support them while they are learning.

What if people were invited to church in order to tell of what they already know about God rather than to learn what they are supposed to believe about God? What if they were honored for what they were already doing in the world for God rather than chastised for what they are not doing within the church? What if the church saw its role as moving people out the door instead of trying to keep them in? What if sermons were designed to convince people that God needed them more out in the world than He does inside the four walls of a church building?

What if all this (and perhaps more) happened? Well, then I believe we would be doing church Jesus’ way.

This Post was inspired by, and some of the thoughts were adapted from, the book Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor (New York: Harper San Francisco, 2006).