As I get ready to head out for the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Baptist Conference, I find myself thinking about the upcoming vote that we’re going to take. The vote concerns the new emphasis of the conference and how it is going to impact the ongoing relationship between the conference and the churches. I find the conference (and Converge Worldwide) placing an extremely high emphasis on mission (singular) and evangelism, which can be good. Unfortunately it can also be a problem, because a stilted emphasis on evangelism can cause other aspects of ministry to be neglected or discarded.
I have been a part of three Baptist organizations now, and the ongoing trend seems to be this: Existing church = worthless; Church plant = Godly. The rationale behind this thought process is that existing churches simply do not or cannot reach people the way that church plants do. That idea is born out statistically, and existing churches do need to place a priority on reaching people. However, it is also a serious problem when a church or an organization makes evangelism the sole focus of its ministry.
Although I have some issues with “The Purpose Driven Church,” it does provide us with a decent framework for what a church is supposed to do Biblically: fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, and evangelism. You may be familiar with the concept from reading “The Purpose Driven Life” (which I also have some methodological issues with). Here is the point: evangelism is not the only aspect of a churches ministry, and to judge a church solely by that criteria is unBiblical.
A blog post got me thinking about this issue recently. It is by a church planter who is successful, and feels like he has neglected some aspects of church life and ministry along the way. His post is entitled Church Planters and Missionalotry.