Substituting Social Justice for Evangelism, and 4 Other Missional Misfires

Every church would say they are in it for the mission, which is why missional misfires is something to be avoided at all costs. Yet, it happens all the time. Here are five of the most common missional misfires.

Every church would say they are in it for the mission, which is why missional misfires is something to be avoided at all costs.

Yet, it happens all the time.

Here are five of the most common misfires:

1. Seeing other churches as the competition.

When I started Meck in Charlotte over 20 years ago, there was a large and once-thriving church experiencing stagnation and severe financial struggles.

In an interview, the pastor was asked why the church was facing such difficulty, and his response was telling: “When we started, we were the only good Bible-teaching church around. Now there are more to choose from.”

I remember being stunned at the complete orientation toward transfer growth from existing believers, and the complete blindness to the vast numbers of lost/unchurched people.

But even more, I was taken by how strongly so many people involved in local churches view other local churches as the competition, as if it’s McDonald’s against Burger King.

I remember saying to our earliest core group, and have continued to say ever since, “We could have a hundred churches around us, and it wouldn’t matter. We’re not after churched people!”

I would often go further and add, “We’re not even primarily after people looking for a church … we’re after the person who, right now, the last thought on their mind is being in a church this weekend.”

Bottom line: If you see other churches as the competition, you are reducing the mission to reaching the reached.

That is not the Great Commission. Instead of being fishers of men, you’re just keepers of the aquarium.

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James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

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