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Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog and Commentary

Mission Lessons

  • Dr. James Emery White
    James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
  • 2014 Feb 18
  • Comments

A husband and wife were at a party in their community. They try to attend as many as they can in order to connect with unchurched people.

At this particular gathering, they encountered some folks from another church. Immediately, they were “circled” by those people and told all of the reasons why they needed to leave their current church home and go to their church.

They said, “But we found Christ at our church, we love our church, we serve at our church, we love our pastor and staff, and have no desire to leave.”

They walked away disturbed and confused. Why would a group of people work so hard to get people to leave a church and go to theirs? 

Another young woman was at a YMCA. She goes there with a keen eye toward, again, connecting with the unchurched. One day an individual on staff at the “Y” asked her where she went to church. She told the person, and said not only did she attend there, but was on staff. 

They said, “Oh, you should come to our church. I’m sure you could be on staff there.”

The young woman said essentially the same thing as the couple at the party: “But I found Christ at my church, I love my church, I love my role on staff at my church, I love working with our pastor and staff, and I have no desire to leave.”

She ended the conversation politely and proceeded to her workout. As she was leaving, the individual stopped her again and said, “I called one of our staff directors after we talked. They would really like to talk to you about coming to our church and exploring staff opportunities.”

The young woman said, again, that she was very happy where she was. The person was insistent: “Think of it this way: How do you know it’s your favorite restaurant when you haven’t eaten at ours?”

That was a quote.

Want more stories?

I have them, but I don’t think I have the stomach to share them.

Let me tell you what I “get.” I get being enthused about your church. I really get reaching out to the unchurched. What I don’t get is trying to woo the already churched to another church as if that’s the mission. Last I checked, the goal is conversion growth, not transfer growth. And not only that, but to be secure enough (and biblical enough), to realize that God is at work in many churches, not just yours.

So I commend everyone who goes to the parties and YMCA’s of the world in mission-mode. 

You rock.

But if some of you think the mission involves competition with other churches,

…you need mission lessons.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His recently released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.