“I agree Pastor Seter. Though the ‘foundation’ is strong, our super structure is weak and loose knit organization, glaring to an outsider, which we don’t realize.” That was the comment on the blog “We Get Sideways Sometimes” posted on May 29th. Mr Ravi my friend from India is a wonderful Christian witness, a fine churchman and a lay person and to me that gives him a unique perspective that I think all of us should think about. I think about this a lot because I have the chance to talk with people (there are getting to be more and more of them) who have never had any connection to a church. The proclamation of the Gospel and the message of Christ crucified for sinners is winsome and the “power of God for salvation”. It is when we start talking about ‘structural issues’ that problems arise. Structure is important. The church as the body of Christ is a structure. It is built upon the foundation of Christ and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. All of that is important to remember but Mr Ravi’s statement that it is “glaring to an outsider” is important as well. What have we added or subtracted from what God has brought into being that is glaring to outsiders who might want to come in? What happens when a new convert sees power struggles and turf battles in a church? How does our ‘mission talk’ and our ‘mission action’ measure up to a visitor? For many of us up here in the North country, our churches were and are extended family operations, built and sustained by a few families. How does that look to an outsider searching for a church home?
Mr Ravi lives on the cutting edge of the churches mission and “life together”. He sees daily the impact of power struggles in the larger church in one of the most populous countries on the face of the earth. He sees what partnerships can do in mission and ministry and he knows what they should not do as well. We can learn a lot from his insights and I hope he shares more.