I shared dinner a week ago with a new friend that I met through my book and then through Facebook conversations. Maurice Hagar is not an ordinary Christian businessman. He has a clear vision for unity and mission and is now acting upon it in faith. This has led him to begin an effort in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He posted the following on my Facebook page. I want to share it via today's blog:
I am absolutely convinced that missional MUST be ecumenical. If you're not convinced, begin with Jesus in John 17, then read Jason Dukes' Beyond MY Church, and finish with The Unity Factor or Your Church Is Too Small by John H. Armstrong for a closing argument. Maybe the resources at 1LoveWake will help you too.
That said, on my journey into what Armstrong calls missional-ecumenism, I find a couple of things most interesting, and open to multiple interpretations I suppose. First, pastors and non-pastors alike, with very few exceptions in my experience, are simply not interested. 30 or so people from several churches have joined us. (And we're not the only expression of missional-ecumenism in town, by the way, but we're the only one that I know of trying to reach our neighbors.) Many many more are curious. And some, pastors in particular, want to know how they might use the idea to build their church. But then we never hear from these people again. What could it mean? My conclusion? For whatever reasons, the Church of Jesus Christ in this time and place is NOT ecumenical as Jesus commanded.
Second, pastors and non-pastors alike, with very few exceptions in my experience, know their neighbors, much less like them or even go so far as to love them. And the answer is always the same: "You just don't know how busy I am." Oh yes I do, because I'm in this boat with you. And I'm afraid the Jesus we profess to obey just may not buy what we're selling on Judgment Day. So what could it mean? My conclusion? For whatever reasons, the Church of Jesus Christ in this time and place is NOT missional as Jesus commanded.
God save us all. And God save our neighbors–in spite of us!