In the blogosphere there will always be new methods and new words to describe ways in which the church can do things better. Some are quite helpful and biblical and some may not be as biblical or helpful. However within the blogosphere, many folks attack such terms or “buzz words” without truly considering the reason for why such “buzz words” sprang into existence.
While I don’t think people should necessarily hop on such buzz words or new ways of doing church or missions without critically thinking through the issues like they did for that KONY video, we really need to not blast things simply because they have become popular.
A “celebrity pastor” tweeted against criticizing “celebrity pastors” who are being faithful to the work Jesus has for them. The problem is not the celebrity pastor but those who have elevated them improperly. I think the same thing goes for such “buzz words.”
Here are some thoughts that might help us think critically but without become just another “hater”
1.) Terms, buzz words, and new ministry opportunities often develop because of a need. “Community” or “doing life together” are considered “buzz words.” But consider their importance. We will always tend toward individualism, and need to always be reminded to seek community and to share our lives with one another. The “one another” passages fill the pages of scripture and its commands. Whether you call it “doing life together” or “community” or some other word, you need to do life together. Buzz words can serve as helpful reminders of our need.
2.) Think critically about the goal of the term more so than the word. Some folks like to throw out the word “missional.” But consider what many people really mean by this term. Thinking outwardly on behalf of non-Christians to the point where you sacrifice your personal preference to help reach lost people. I don’t see how that’s too bad. Sacrificing biblical principles is one thing, but preferences is an entirely different thing. Most people hold on to preferences or traditions a bit too tightly.
3.) Think critically about the implications as well. If the only driving force behind your church is to be “missional” then you can lose other components. Some “missional” churches may cancel their worship service to serve their communities. Missional is a biblical component, but so is “worshipful” too. You can’t sacrifice one at the altar of the other, and this can happen if we never think out the implications.
4.) Balance the buzz words with other components of Christian life and ministry. Doing life together doesn’t mean that you neglect personally cultivating a healthy devotional life. Missional means I love, live among, and invite folks to worship. In worship I seek to explain terms, regardless if some folks feel “I already know that.” But the goal of mission is worship. So missional folks should move non-believers to worship, not entertainment. As long as one buzz word does not dominate and trump everything else, the buzz word can be quite helpful.
5.) Buzz words can actually help keep lives and ministry in balance. I find most people naturally turn inward as opposed to real, not shallow, community. And when most people enjoy community, there is still a tendency to guard that community, keeping closed and inward focused. A challenge to live “missionally” as a group reorients your thoughts to those outside your small group, and in turn keeps you from becoming clique-ish, myopic, or selfish. A kingdom focus (another buzzword) can help you remember that what you do in your work and community does indeed matter. But we also need reminders that serving our community cannot replace the proclamation of the gospel. That’s becoming almost a buzz word now. And I’m glad. We need that too. In the end, we need to learn from folks who are “gospel driven,” “missional,” “covenantal” “kingdom oriented.” Churches sometimes, and individuals most of the time, need to have regularly their pendulums swung this way.