Church leaders need to find a lawyer. At least they need to if they are serious about New Testament Christianity. How come?
Well, according to Neil Hudson, it’s is time for church leaders to change the contract they have with their church. He is the author of Imagine Church, a book that reflects on a series of pilot projects run in churches across Britain that aimed to help churches develop ‘whole life disciples’. The Imagine Project is a product of the LICC’s belief that it is when churches across the UK develop true disciples that we will actually reach the nation with the Gospel. But the big problem in this scenario is that people attending church are frankly not expecting this kind of approach.
Many of them have signed up to church because they were told that if they believed in Jesus they would get to heaven – and that’s it. Or they attend hoping that something good will happen to them in this life – they will get their children into a local school, they will get healed of their problem (physical or emotional) God will bless their attendance with a new job, or financial prosperity. Others attend because it’s a warm a friendly place to be – few places in society are as uniformly welcoming to all comers whatever the race, sex, class or intellectual aptitude.
But few come to church to learn from Jesus how to live like him, with the intention that they will receive the knowledge and experience to become whole-life disciples that will enable them to live for Christ wherever he has placed them 24-7.
The agenda that Neil suggests is not part of the ‘contract’. This new approach would be like you turning up to a theatre for a show and being handed a script and costume. You say, ‘no I bought a ticket to be entertained, not to be involved!’.
So the church leader is seen as a nurse or doctor to heal their wounds, or as a entertainer to make them laugh and forget their problems for a few hours. He or she is not there to help people grow into the likeness of Christ.
So our metaphorical lawyer needs to draw up a new contract – between the church leader and the Christians that attend the church. It must now involve their spending a significant chunk of time helping the Christians learn the Jesus life: getting rid of stuff that Jesus has no time for and embracing the fantastic new life he promised them.
It will mean that some church attenders won’t like it and will go elsewhere. It may mean that some will think they like it, but find it tough. But it will mean that many will find there’s a new kind of techni colour Christianity that was waiting for them.
An unrealistic aim? Neil Hudson reminds us that it’s what Jesus actually tells us to do in Matthew 28:18f. Is there any other kind of Christianity? What’s stopping you from re-thinking how you lead your church?
My interview with Neil Hudson is Show 313 and can be heard on The Leadership File Listen Again page.