“The main thing is to keep the
main thing the main thing.”
This oft-quoted and helpful mantra raises the question of what is “the main thing”?
I think I’m fairly safe to say the typical Independent Baptist answer is “missions.”
Though it might be surprising to some, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren were not really the pioneers of the Church Growth Movement. It was actually Fundamentalist leaders like Jack Hyles who were the true pioneers of the Church Growth Movement. [Hyles’ church pictured below]
What Hybels and Warren and others can be credited with is bringing to popularity the element of Seeker Sensitive thinking to that movement.
Basically, the underlying assumption in Seeker Sensitive thinking is that the answer to the question of what is the main thing is “mission.” But is that the correct biblical answer? Is that why God made the world? For mission? Is that why God brought about the gospel? The incarnation? The church?
I want to suggest that it is not. The main thing is not mission.
I know that sounds like heresy to the well tuned Independent Baptist ear. And to the Broader Evangelical ear as well. I suspect Warren would disagree. Hybels as well. Hillsong would probably disagree. Much of the Baptist Union would disagree. But I think it’s still true.
The problem with seeing mission as “the main thing” is that the whole idea of mission only became necessary after the fall of man. In other words, mission doesn’t answer any of your primary questions. Who am I? Why was I created? What is my purpose? All of those questions only find their answer before the fall of man.
God didn’t create man for mission because there was no need for mission when God created man. In other words, to live life as if mission is primary is to live life missing the point.
So what is the main thing? The main thing is God.
We were created by God for God. The main thing is God’s glory, God’s pleasure, God’s fame in the earth. If you want to compare the two mindsets, consider this:
God is just as glorified in the damnation of the unbeliever as He is in the salvation of the believer.
Now, I know you might have to replace a few fuses after that statement, but it is true. It’s true in Calvinist thinking. It’s true in Arminian thinking. If facing that reality causes you to question the goodness or justice of God, then you are merely revealing that you’ve allowed missional thinking to supersede God-centred thinking. You’re willing to entertain slander against God in your mind because you’re so focused on mission.
There are two things that acted as catalysts for this post today. First, last week’s post has generated some discussion and got me thinking about Fundamentalism. I think I may spend a few more weeks looking at different aspects of the topic.
Second, I was in a discussion this week with a couple of Baptist Union gentlemen. These men and many others are leading their congregations toward missional thinking. I want to challenge this generation of leaders to get this issue right because it is crucial. Our methodology must be backed by a theology that squares with the theocentric message of Scripture.
Now to be fair, I’m not bagging mission or even necessarily “missional thinking.” These are significant and essential aspects of any healthy ministry. Christ came “to seek and to save the lost.” But He didn’t do it primarily for the lost. He did it for the glory of God. He did it “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Mission is all about God.
This weeks trivia
Last week I didn’t give you any links because my article was so long (and because I wanted to try to preserve at least some dignity for the article). So this week I’ve got quite a few links to point you to.
- Missionary David Hosaflook says basically what I just said, only better. Forgot I had this link stashed away when I wrote today’s post.
- The most important link involves Bill Clinton saying “I’m too much of a Calvinist.” Wow. Didn’t see that one coming!
- An interesting interview with a Christian doctor who was on the flight that landed in the Hudson River, NY.
- I absolutely love the way this blogger thinks!
- And finally, Google: use with discernment when walking to NY.
Ok. I’ll stop there.
Grace to you.