I would like to describe my thoughts in more detail on what it means to be an )open( church. See The Open Church for an introduction to the core values and beliefs. For each of the core values, I will discuss:
- Motivation (Why do we care about this?)
- Open vs. Closed (What's the difference?)
- Next Steps (How do we change?)
1. Motivation (Why do we care about this?)
- Because our perspective of the future determines how we live in the present. If Jesus came to bring God's kingdom and liberation of the captives, it is our job to help advance his kingdom on Earth. God uses the church to heal the world! He uses people to bring good things. How long will this mission continue? It doesn't matter -- God's view of time is not like ours, and he may have plans for this Earth that span tens of thousands, or tens of millions, of years of the human race. What will he accomplish during this time? Whatever it might be, it will be through his people, his literal kingdom on Earth.
- Because our belief about God's intent to bless the world gives us respect for the world around us. With this perspective, we would not want to neglect the Earth to pollution, to exploit it and to eliminate its wealth of resources. Instead we should respect it and find a sustainable future together.
- Because we see the potential for a world without hunger, without extreme poverty, and without exploitation of the masses, a world where (for example) health care and education are available to all communities. Through our church resources, collective power, influence and ingenuity, we can help to alleviate hunger, poverty and slavery. By doing so, we can help to liberate the captives as part of God's kingdom.
2. Open vs. Closed (What's the difference?)
3. Next Steps (How do we change?)
We have an intentionally worldly perspective. As Christians, we organize ourselves to bring good things into the world through the rich treasure God has given us in the Holy Spirit and each other. Because we see the church in the context of the world, we see the opportunity and potential for the church to change the world in a positive way, and in a way that increases in the future.
Has an intentionally heavenly perspective. Organizes to bring people to faith and good status with God. Focused on spiritual well-being and spiritual change. Views that time is running out soon to finish our mission.
Our mission to the world carries a message of God's love, acceptance and intention (will) to bless the world through Jesus and the church, his kingdom of heaven on Earth. We are planning for the long haul, to bring God's love to every person on Earth and to every future generation.
Carries a message of love mixed with fear and judgment in order to build God's kingdom in heaven. Teaches a message that divides people and leads them to judge each other based on our spiritual status, ideals, and compliance to rules. We plan with short-term thinking, and in doing so we overlook needs that could be met with long-term strategies.
Our mission is demonstrated through actively engaging in fulfilling God's intention to bless the world. We apply our resources and influence to combat injustice and alleviate suffering. We are planning for the long haul, to end world hunger, bring global health care and quality living conditions, stop human trafficking and systematic exploitation, and to take a global leadership role in human rights and the responsibilities of those in power. We also care about the world we live in and partner with God and the world to be good stewards of the Earth, plan for alternate energy sources, end pollution, and find a sustainable future together.
Views humanitarian and environmental causes as lower priority than the spiritual cause to generate believers. To some believers, meeting tangible needs is a means to an end to spread faith, or is a secondary goal. Others may view that we have a short time to suffer in this world and work to alleviate suffering as much as possible in the short term. Meanwhile, we miss opportunities to engage in long-term plans in partnership with the outside world.
3. Next Steps (How do we change?)
- Completely re-orient our missionary thinking and planning. Stop trying to create believers and start seeing people as they are, focusing on meeting their needs and making the world a better place
- Organize at the grass-roots level to achieve local change and global influence.
- Apply our resources to investing in people, communities, and causes for change.
- Openly discuss issues that relate to the outside world and not only to spiritual well-being.
- Remove short-term thinking and doomsday language from our church culture. It doesn't help to bring God's kingdom, instead it limits God to work in only our current generation.