“MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!”
Ronald Reagan in West Berlin, Germany, 1987.
Even though the concrete wall between East and West Berlin turned to dust nearly 30 years ago, it still offers a powerful metaphor for this story about a figurative wall that exists between the church and Christians working in the marketplace.
What divides the two “sides” in my story?
I would characterize it as a misperception held by many church leaders that Christians from the marketplace are not fully equipped to minister and serve.
The wall I’m referring to was not built intentionally and certainly not with malice. But it exists nonetheless and the consequent perception has created negative impacts on at least three important fronts:
That’s the bad news. But stay with me here–there is plenty of good news coming up in this story.
There is an army of millions and millions and millions of Christians from the marketplace with hearts ignited to serve in ministry and on mission. They are waiting on the sidelines right now and desperate to get into the game. This army of believers possesses highly developed skills and abilities. This army brings with it a passion so fierce that the troops will pay their own money to do the work. And this army can be activated instantly because it does not need much more than a pep talk and some basic training.
I want to encourage the church to sound the recruitment alarm. It needs leaders. It needs us! And, thankfully, we’re ready!
It’s a good thing that the Berlin Wall came crashing down, of course. Most of us at least subscribe to the notion that freedom is a good thing, right? Maybe even an essential thing to living a happy life on this earth. But the reality of life seems to complicate the realization of freedom. For example, what does freedom mean to someone whose goal is merely to survive? Consider these realities:
- Billions of people live in our world without hope, meaning, or purpose.
- Billions of people are mired in poverty and live on less than two dollars a day.
- Billions of people suffer from diseases that are easily preventable.
- Billions of people are functionally illiterate and seemingly destined to live and die in pain.
The church has a responsibility to address this pain holistically, both in the spiritual (evangelism) and social (ministry/mission) realms. I know, it sounds daunting. But do not write it off as impossible just yet. The church is blessed with a network of millions and millions of local churches dotting the planet to form the world’s largest distribution system of any kind. It is a distribution system that will long outlive McDonalds, Starbucks, and Microsoft.
That is the ledger’s positive side. Flip it over and you’ll see that the church does not have the people available to deploy and address the massive need. There simply are not enough pastors or professional missionaries or church staff personnel to fully and effectively respond to the world’s pain.
And then there’s that wall.
That’s part one of “Tear Down This Wall.” Look for additional stories coming soon!