Today, I stood on the front steps of an Evangelical Church that was founded in 1876. She once stood proudly as the central figure of a quiet French community on the southern plains. Her citizens, most having migrated from France and Germany, were precious people who worked, lived, and worshiped in the tranquility of their devotion. Their hearts were happy and their souls satisfied; they now enjoyed a new land, new freedoms with new opportunities. God was good to them.

And yet, that historic old church is now closed, moth-balled into Christian history, a relic of “what was and what should have FullSizeRenderIFbeen.” Today, her doors are bolted and padlocked. Her pews are no longer warmed by persons of praise and her altars no longer stained with the tears of repentant men. Her grounds no longer hear the laughter of children playing and her pulpit is not gripped by the calloused hands of a Heaven-sent Evangel. No, today this old church is just a relic of what “used to be.” She is not relevant to her community’s future, her people’s needs, or her intended purpose. She’s closed.

When I stepped out of my car and I looked upon her, it was as if she was screaming to me from yesteryear, vying for my attention. She wanted to be useful again. She wanted to be needed again. She wanted to serve again. She wanted to be what she was built to be…a Christian Church. She seemed to say to me, “if our members would have been intentional in our efforts to be missional, we’d still be open.”

That started me thinking. How many leaders really know what a “Missional” Church looks like? How many pastors know if they are serving a missional people? How many pastors know if the hearts of their parishioners are really stirred for God’s mission and the church’s commission?

Here are some simple truths regarding the concept of pastoring a Missional Church. I am convinced that if North American pastors and church leaders do not assimilate these truths into the fabric of their systems and structures very soon, modern culture is going to dismiss them “stage left.”

In the 1950’s, the western church was still in relationship to their culture called Christendom. Society’s institutions Christianized people, and stigmatized all but Christian beliefs and behavior. The Church then could gather Christianized people and challenge them to personal Christian commitment.

However, in the years following an orchestrated effort by cultural architects has been successful in stripping our nation of institutionalized Christianity. Today, the Church cannot just hope to bring Christianized people into commitment. Today, we are living in a non-Christian culture and we must adapt absolutely every aspect of church life – worship, preaching, teaching, community life, and discipleship – to being in a non-Christian world. That means as Christians, we live radically different lives with different values than our culture. In other words, discipleship and training not only have to equip our people to answer questions and share faith, but we have to equip and train them to live distinctly Christian lives in a secular world.

At the Church of Champions, we are striving (albeit imperfectly) to be a Christian people of service in a culture of people not Christianized and who are framed with hyper-sensibilities. Does that mean we compromise? Absolutely not! We have a specific strategy called the “Jesus Method” we employ: we share the story of His death, burial, and resurrection with a culture in such a way that it does not offer false hope, nor does it condemn sinners without any offer of hope. We are striving to be the Incarnate Word, resonating love and grace, to a culture that is filled with arrogant cynicism.

I have found that there are far too many churches spending inordinate amounts of time, energy, and money trying to Christianize people’s ideologies and behaviors rather than offering the Message that radically transforms people lives, inside out. You see, one effort works to create an environment while the other is missional – it’s on a mission for the soul of a dying sinner man.

At the Church of Champions, we are purposed to invest ourselves in the latter.

― Wendell Hutchins II

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