I was going to wait to write a reflection until I read a little further into DeYoung and Kluck’s book, “Why we love the church,” but I came across a statement in chapter one that prompted me to get out of my recliner and write a blog post. Those of you who are friends or members of the Prairie community might see why this statement got me excited:
What makes the church unique is its commitment, above all else, to knowing and making known Christ and Him crucified. (page 45)
For those who don’t know, Prairie’s motto is “To Know Christ and Make Him Known.” This statement has been one of the central parts of Prairies new direction over the last year and a half, and I don’t think there could be a better motto for a school who cares deeply about training people to fulfill the mission of the church as set out by Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
I love that Kevin DeYoung put this statement in this chapter in response to the trendy topic of the missional purpose of the church. He is concerned with the church putting social justice issues, such as sex trafficking, oppression and death in Darfur, and AIDS, at the centre of the purpose of the church. He says the dangers for the social justice crowd is that, “Most of their causes demand nothing of us Christians except psychological guilt and advocacy.” (page 44)
I agree that the church should be concerned about social justice issues. However, if knowing Christ and making Him known is not at the centre of the purpose of the church, we are no different than any secular social justice organization. The main point of the church is to be a witness of Christ’s death and resurrection. Dan Kimball, who is a leader in the emergent church, and who I have had a hard time agreeing with on many church related matters, recognizes that, “We can never forget the urgency of being on mission to those who do not know Jesus yet.” (quoted by DeYoung on page 47)
DeYoung concludes this chapter with these very appropriate words:
There is a danger that we find our unity in doing good missional deeds for our community and not in the good news of the gospel… There’s a danger that when people get disinterested in the gospel, they get disinterested in the church. And once they leave the church, they’ve left the only institution whose mission aims for eternity and whose gospel is truly good news. (page 51)