3 church killers: calling, mission-divorce, and truancy
“Only a disciple can make a disciple.” ~ A. W. Tozer
Calling as vocation?
“God has called me into full-time ministry!” were the words that I heard. I knew what was next: seminary, ordination, and then a paid position—but never secular work. Biblically speaking, the term calling mostly has to do with salvific doctrine (1 Corinthians 1:26; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:11). But the Church connects calling with a paid staff member—as if everyone else is absent from the mission of God.
Christian calling is not a new vocation—it’s living a transformed lifestyle within the same community. Jesus told the demoniac to go home and proclaim what had happened to him (Mark 5:19–20). Paul stated, “Each one should remain in the [way of life] in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:20). Every believer has been called to salvation, by God’s grace, but commanded to make disciples within their circle of influence (Matthews 28:18–20). Yet, disciple-making has been handed over to those who are qualified, or called, to teach.
Unfortunately, disciple-making has been reduced to a Bible study. J.D. Greear’s statement clarifies, “Effective discipleship is not about a curriculum; it's about one person learning from another person what it looks like to follow Jesus.” The fruit, or evidence, of our Christian calling resides in our making followers of Christ (John 15:1–5). Every believer, whether given great talents, or little, has been commanded to teach others within their every day rhythms of life (Matthew 25:15).
“The Lord’s Day.” We have caused our own demise, by “setting aside” one day holier than others. God owns every day. Granted, we are called to gather together and should (Hebrews 10:25). But, Mission divorce—as I call it—has occurred. Mission-divorce is disconnecting Sunday from Monday. We think that Sunday belongs to Saturday. Basically, it’s a rest day, not a mission day.
Let me explain. Israel rested on the Sabbath–the last day of the week because God rested (Genesis 2:2). Their work week consisted of living a life filled with God’s principles, worship, and service, Sunday through Friday (evening). The Church, however, gathers on the first day of the week—Sunday. Yet, many Christians believe that Sunday ends the week, or is our Sabbath. Christ is our Sabbath.
Sunday begins the week on every calendar that I’ve ever seen. Monday does not start the week—it’s Sunday. Mission divorce is killing the church because Christians think that Sunday belongs to Saturday. Sunday begins our work week, commissioning us to be sent out on God’s mission.
Sunday is attached to Monday. The work that each believer does greatly matters. It is here, where you are on mission. That sense of “calling” you feel, propels you to live out your service to Christ and to proclaim the good news. Sunday worship cannot be disconnected from Monday work.
***For clarification: Christ is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). When we’re burdened with labor, we’re to look to Christ, and watch how he lived out the rhythms of life (Mt. 11:28–29). Jesus was always on mission, but took time out when he needed to be alone with the Father.***
At first glance, you may think that I’m suggesting a lack of church attendance? While statistics show that only 12 percent of Americans attend church on any given Sunday—that’s not the topic here.
Truancy has to do with our dereliction of duty—disciple-making. The Great Commission is not an addition to our already busy life. It’s not one more thing that we need to accomplish. We don’t “shoehorn” God into our work week. The fact is—the Church has been absent in commissioning each believer to make new disciples—at home, work, and community.
In separating Sunday from Monday, we’ve either checked out of mainstream life—isolating ourselves—or we’ve disengaged the Great Commission from our jobs (gifting and talents). God has hard-wired us (Psalms 139:13) for our jobs, but we fail to honor God with the evidence of our salvation, by being fruitful.
We must start commissioning all believers as sent people, connecting our Sunday worship to Monday’s mission, by making disciples where we serve.
Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author, pastor, national director of operations for New Breed Church Planting, and founder of Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate at Southeastern.www