Reforming church, culture and our city

Reforming church, culture and our city

Archive for October 2007

I came, I saw, I conquered

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This morning I spent some time speaking to one of our denominational leaders who shared with me a book he’d been reading on ancient paradigms of leadership in the Greek speaking world. When Caesar won the battle of Zela he described the victory to the Roman senate in these words, ‘Veni, vidi, vici‘ which means ‘I came, I saw, I conquered!‘.

I find that the same holds true of churches when they start. Much of church planting work begins because there is a pioneering spirit in its leaders. They go with a vision to grow the ministry, to reach people, to do church differently, to bring the gospel to new groups of people, to start churches in new neighborhoods. One could say that many churches that have been planted go out with a ‘kingdom’ vision. They take risk, they are prepared to fail, their structures serve the mission, they are prepared to change as they go along.

Their vision for the ‘kingdom’ or the mission of Jesus shapes their ministry practice. Decisions are made from a kingdom and mission perspective. Structures are easily built and demolished, as they are built around the kingdom and mission. The way church is run and done serves the kingdom and mission of Jesus. I was reading one of Brian McLaren’s book this morning on doing church in a rapidly changing culture (whether you call it post-modern or post-Christian, I really don’t care). The title of the book was The Church On The Other Side: Doing Ministry In The Postmodern Matrix.  The reality is that society and culture is changing faster than the church can keep up with.

One of the problem he highlights is the obsession church’s have with their structures and traditions. In a previous generation or even a few years ago these structures and traditions might have served the kingdom and mission of Jesus (I believe they were even relevant). The problem is that often what began as a church with a mission, becomes a church obsessed with their structures and traditions, rather than the kingdom and mission of Jesus. From looking out, they start looking within; protecting, guarding, promoting, selling their structures and tradition. McLaren points out that eventually their ministry is only relevant to those within their four walls, where the focus is more on us, and less on the kingdom and mission of Jesus. A good start, a poor finish or better still, a painfully long finish for many churches!  I’m quite sure many of the dying or stagnating churches I see were once vibrant, thriving, missional, kingdom seeking churches.

The truth is what began as a kingdom vision and a focus on the mission of Jesus ends up memorialized in a piece of stone. Instead of hearing the words time and time again as new ground is broken, as new ministries developed, as new churches planted: ‘I came, I saw, I conquered!’, over time we hear these words instead, ‘I came, I saw, I concreted!


Written by eugenehor

October 9, 2007 at 12:08 pm