Sending or Seating?

I read a quotation on Twitter last week that I found really thought-provoking. I don’t know who said it, but it has been kicking my butt ever since I noticed it. Take this in:

We should be more concerned with our sending capacity than our seating capacity.

The more I think about the future of the Christian church in Canada, the more I believe that sending is going to matter more than seating.

Don’t get me wrong: gathering for worship is crucial to our spiritual development and our maturation as disciples of Jesus. We want to grow numerically even as we grow spiritually. But as time goes on, we are going to have to move from an attractional model of being the church to a missional model. And that says more about going out than coming in.

My latest reading has been Al Roxburgh’s book, Introducing the Missional Church (Baker, 2009). Among his premises in the book is a bit of a head-scratcher: the concept of ‘missional church’ cannot be clearly defined. He says that trying to define the missional church is like trying to define the Kingdom of God; it’s just too big to wrap our heads around.

However, we can garner principles that will help the church in the future. And key to those principles is getting out and being the church in the community, serving people in mission. That can be a mission of helping, such as doing lawn mower maintenance (or even lawn maintenance) for single moms. It can also be a mission of listening, such as hearing from business owners and school administrators in the community about what the church can do that will make a difference.

What are your thoughts on what it means to be missional as a church?  I’d love to read your comments and start a dialogue.

2 thoughts on “Sending or Seating?”

  1. You know, Jeff, as I read this, I immediately had a thought that this is what church should be like for young people. I pictured the youth at our church, and I think that they would rather be doing than listening, out and effecting change instead of sitting in a stuffy room talking about how they could change the world. My own children are good examples of this – my two teens are a little bored with Sunday School, and church services (having gone all their lives). They have less of a desire to attend church (you know it happens around that age), but if you told them that their “church” would be helping others, doing things in the community, and effecting change, they would be genuinely excited about that idea. You know how hard it is to change the minds of “older” people, set in their ways, but it would be exciting to watch the next generation of church goers, elders, pastors find an “outward”, more serving, direction.

    1. Thanks, Kiersten, for sharing your (and your family’s) experience. I think you’re right that younger folks are drawn to more action-oriented faith. What kinds of “helping others, doing things in the community, and effecting change” do you think would light their fire? I’d be glad for examples as I continue to think through this.

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