I am not sure that I can answer any of those questions, but I can take a stab at figuring out my own life and ministry.
I believe that the church is a community that exists to meet needs and to know God- at least, that's what it should be. Too often, as we are all aware, it meets no one's needs and would not know God if He showed up for the 11am service. Thankfully, he doesn't show up at those services very often.
Instead our churches are filled with the status quo. We do ministry not for the sake of pleasing God or meeting the needs of people, but for the comfort of those who attend it's perfomances/ services. We worship like our ancestors did 100, 200, 400 years ago, and are surprised when people nurtured on technology, communication, innovation and speed are not thrilled with what we have to offer. We should be ashamed.
The problem is that I am not sure that anything can be done for the established church. It would be better said that the established church does not want anything done for or to it. Those Christians are happy with their lives and amazingly unconcerned with the lives of others. What a tragedy. That is why it is time to cicumvent the estabished church.
What I am about to propose is not new. It is not an indictment of existing structures, fellowship groups or denominations. I believe that the 'New Way' can be used in every congregation where even one Christian seeks renewal and the blessing of Christ.
I propose that every Christian work toward planting at least one mini-church. This mini-church can serve within the existing structure of the church to be a renewing agent. Each mini-church should include both Christians and not-yet Christians. It could meet in a home, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a workplace, a dorm room or a shopping mall. The mini-church should meet at least bi-monthly. For the sake of consistency, a regular meeting time and place on a weekly basis would be best. Each meeting of the mini-church should include the following:
- Friendship- Mini-churches should be a place where all people can share their problems, their triumphs and their struggles. There should be mutual support and concern. Although sin should be examined and condemned, persons need to feel welcomed and loved. In addition to sharing, there should be a measure of accountability. For growth in Christ to occur, we must submit to the challenge of others.
- Nurture- Each mini-church should see to build up each participant in the mini-church. That should be done through regular times of prayer, worship and teaching. Although these times will be less formal than in the traditional church setting, they are more important than ever.
- Outreach- Mini-churches need to be groups that purposefully reach out to others. This will be accomplished in many ways. One of the most obvious is that not-yet Christians are involved in every aspect of the mini-church life. The existence of the mini-church is in itself an outreach. Additionally, each mini-church should be intentional about doing ministry to others in need. This might include missions trips, community service or evangelistic programming.