I was recently asked to comment on a quote. I took the liberty of adding to it and rewriting it so it now reads:
“Almost since the 4th Century, one of the greatest failings of the church in the West is that instead of obeying the Great Commission and making disciples it has instead ploughed all its effort into building churches. In so-doing, pastors have lost their role as lead disciple-makers and have instead become chair-people of what have essentially become religious social clubs, able to point the soul to heaven, but shockingly unable to bring heaven to the soul. Where the attention has been on people instead of bricks and stone it has been on converts not disciples.”
We are placing a lot of strategic importance on Pioneer ministry and church planting, seeking to spend time and money on these. Rightly so, as the changes needed to see mission develop in the coming years are highlighted in the Ignite report of the Union. We need to take seriously the new-housing areas and the Fresh Expressions of church to present the Gospel in changing world.
However, we must not lose sight of the existing churches and their mission where they are. For many, this is about a predominance of Baby Boomers and above in the church who still have a mission in discipling their own age-group. Consequently I would draw our attention to three initiatives, none of which are asking for our money!
I have reported before about “Faith in Later Life” – Christians in an ageing society (FILL). CARE have also now launched “After work net – That was work. This is now”. Moorlands College have an applied theology course: “Equipped: Ministry in the Third Age.”
In the Baby Boomers we have an experienced group of people who are, arguably, the best evangelists for reaching their own age group. So instead of encouraging them to ‘down tools’ as they ‘have done their bit’ we need to motivate them.
For the first time there are more over 60’s than under 18’s in our society. This presents us with a mission-field and workers to bring in the harvest. Maybe ‘white unto harvest’ has a new meaning!