The church used to share the pioneer spirit. Churches sprang up across the country and people came to faith in Jesus.
Where have all the pioneers gone? We don’t even talk about them anymore. New works have been the exception rather than the rule. In fact, most of our churches view new works as a threat rather than an opportunity for kingdom growth.
I served a church in San Diego for awhile years back. The surrounding neighborhood shifted to a Hispanic community. I will not forget the humble leadership of the deacons and pastor who asked, “How can we best connect with our changing community?”
Soon church bulletins were printed in Spanish, music became multi-ethnic and a Spanish speaking pastor came on staff.
I don’t remember hearing even one person worry about “losing my church.” Leadership set a kingdom tone and celebrated every win. The church, which had been steadily declining, grew to be a community church with multiple services. In the end, the previous pastor left (as he knew he would) and most of the commuters plugged into churches in their communities. It was a tremendous win for the kingdom!
Pioneers take risks. Pioneers see potential. Pioneers shape the landscape. The church of America needs to rediscover the pioneering call of the great commission.
Instead of asking how pioneer ventures will impact the status quo, attendance and the bottom-line, our churches must refocus on what we have been called to do. The question may just be as simple as, “What can we do to advance the gospel here, there and everywhere?”
Instead of moving to protect the institution, might we be willing to take substantial risks to advance the gospel.
Pioneers. Where are you, pioneers?