Ten years ago, the missional movement was in full swing. People talked about “being the church” instead of “going to church.” To reach this ideal, leaders began to talk about “doing life together” and established rhythms of hanging out, eating meals, and simply gathering. The call went something like this: “You’re going to eat anyway. Why not invite another family to eat with you?”
That’s compelling logic, but something went wrong. Life got in the way of “doing life” together.
Life got in the way of “doing life” together.
Things that sound too simple often ignore the complexities of reality. When that happens, leaders double down on their ideals. They make what was supposed to be a “natural rhythm” now feel forced and coerced. As this increases, people begin to drop off. If it’s outward conformity instead of inward necessity, it will always fall short and become a distortion of what was intended—no matter how well-intentioned or right it may feel.
The Church’s Mission Today
The pandemic changed everything. The collective mood of a global society became exhaustion. People were tired. Addiction was on the rise. And cynicism was at an all-time high. No matter who you are, no matter what your COVID lockdown experience was, I’m pretty sure that what you’re craving right now is soul care. The mission of the Church today seems to be soul care. Isn’t that what the Great Commission is all about? Isn’t the call to “go and make disciples” really a call to care for the souls of others? Isn’t that what discipleship is when you break it apart and examine it at its core?
If the Church leans into soul care, we will intersect the perfect crossroads of people in post-pandemic pain and the mission of God.
What would happen if you began to look at everyone you come into contact with as someone needing soul care? How would that change your interaction with them? How would it change your focus? How do you speak to them? What topics do you bring up? If the Church leans into soul care, we will intersect the perfect crossroads of people in post-pandemic pain and the mission of God.
Focusing on Individuals
Churches that approach religion as “big business” can start to care more about large numbers than helping individuals. Many people flocked to the Church for answers and soul care during the pandemic, only to be let down. The rise of microchurches and house church networks are part of the answer, but it can’t have a trace of demand because people are too tired for that. It’s like asking injured people to get back into the game and continue to hit hard despite their broken bones. The mission is shepherding.
Start with soul care. Pour into people as Jesus and Paul did. Reinterpret discipleship, and make more disciples than ever before. Take them through a crash course on grace. You can’t bring people out of addiction, prostitution, or prison and put them into legalism. Grace is the only thing that transforms.
The mission is shepherding.
Instead of diving into programs, plans, and trainings, how about starting with pool parties or barbecues? Simply allow a bunch of people to show up and relax and get to know each other with no agenda. To simply “be” together. From there, you will eventually train leaders.
Identify your mission focus. Reach out to people; disciple and train leaders. And no matter how new it may be to you, don’t forget soul care.
Peyton Jones is a serial church planter, author, speaker, outreach consultant, and founder of NewBreed Training. He co-founded Church Planter Magazine as well as the Church Planter Podcast, Hardcore Church Planting podcast, and Ministry Ninja Podcast. Born in Washington, DC, but raised in Huntington Beach, California (Surf City), Peyton married his high school sweetheart. He is the father of two children, Liberty and Eden.