Foundations: Foundational Piece #2- Intentionality
"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do"
Psalm 11:3 (ESV)
This is the second blog in our series. To take a look at the introduction, please check here
As we look to our second blog in the series on foundations, we will be looking at something that may not be spoken of as much as many other topics. It is not the kind of thing that has books written about it or conferences dedicated to it.
But, most things that we write books about stem from it. Most confrences are related to it. Most successful ministries prioritize it. Most dying ministries are dying because they have lost sight of it. Most church hurt stems from a lack of it. Most lack of mission originates from losing focus on it. Most neglect and fractured relationships are directly tied to it (or the lack of it). Most works that really demonstrate and manifest the Kingdom are locked in on the importance of it.
It is the kind of thing that is highly important, but we rarely think of it, and when it is operating the way that it should, we do not notice it, but instead notice the fruit that stems from it.
The foundational aspect of Christianity that I am speaking of is "Intentionality".
Intentionality is the tie that binds all of our "why" questions together. Without intentionality we easily slip into what Jesus warned about, "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me" (Matthew 15:8). Without intentionality, we can easily take that which was intended to give glory and to bring honor and turn it into perfunctory duty that fails to even have Jesus on the radar.
Without "Intentionality" we can have a great many Christians existing under the roof of one church yet not really functioning as the body of Christ or the family of Christ. They can exist as many different, non-concentric circles, each immersed in their own world but disconnected from the life of each other and the life of the body. It takes intentionality to leave the confines of your bubble and to enter into someone else's bubble, or better yet, to invite someone else to enter yours. In short, you cannot have Christian community without intentionality.
You cannot have worship without intentionality. Just showing up with a building with a steeple on the top does not make worship. Jesus said that those who wish to be his disciples must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow after Him (Luke 9:23). That takes intentionality. We do not stumble into taking up our cross. There is a conscience decision that comes with denying oneself and following.
You cannot have mission without intentionality. We have a world out there perishing due to the lack of intentionality of large pockets of Christians. I think if you polled most Christians about whether they want non-Christians to come, they would say yes. But then if you asked them what they plan on doing to make it happen, you would answers like, "Our church has this concert" or, "We have this event that we handed out fliers to" or "we changed the name on our church to make it less church-y".
Give me a break!
Too many churches get their missiology from "Fields of Dreams" than the Bible. They have this attitude of "if you build it they will come".
Problem with that.
They're not coming.
Think of Israel. They had the Temple. They had the arc of the covenant. They had the presence of God. They had the prophets and the Scriptures. They had the Messiah. STILL people did not come.
So, the Messiah demonstrated what an intentional-life really looks like and He went out to go get them rather than wait around for those who were not, and could not, come. He told us in multiple places to go and do likewise. So, the same intentionality that was lived out by the Son is the same intentionality that His church is supposed to live as a missionary people in this world.
Without intentionality we have no clue what to say "NO" to. The biggest problem in churches when it comes to intentionality is not that they do not say "yes" to enough things. The problem is that they never say "NO" to anything. So, by refusing to say "NO" to the things that they should be saying no to, they are refusing to say yes to the things that they should be saying yes to, and they are taking on WAY TOO MANY of the things that they should be saying no to.
A church should know its purpose so well that the joyfully and regularly say "NO" to most things outside of that purpose.
This is only writing #2, but in the lessons to come, we are going to build on this one and see what things we are SUPPOSED TO be intentional about. This gives us the freedom to chase hard after the heart of God in mission and it gives us the freedom to say NO to the things that would take us off of that mission.
By being intentional about what our mission and purpose is- and what it is not- we ensure that we continue building on the proper foundation.