The importance of “ends” and “means.”


Last Tuesday evening our Missional Learning Community invited Jon Stock from The Church of the Servant King in Eugene, OR to share around the question; What are some current missional eccleisal (church) forms and how might they be structured? Just as a side note or point of information, The Church of the Servant King (with sister congregations in Portland, OR and Gardena, CA) looks a good deal like what many are currently describing as “New Monasticism;” and have been in existence for nearly 30 years. For more information on this subject check out this Christian Century article.

Rather than address the question regarding ecclesial forms and structure, Jon redirected our conversation toward two primary issues that need attention prior to the formation of any type of ecclesial structure. The first is one of “shared identity.” A mutual consensus among those desiring to form or structure some type of church expression to comprehend who they are in Christ; at both individual and communal levels. Without deliberation toward a shared communal identity in conjunction with the Spirit, discerning purpose for ecclesial existence is minimized. But in this context the likelihood of consensus for purpose is possible.

The second issue Jon referenced revolves around a community’s understanding of the terms “ends and means,” which is often fuzzy and confusing within culture and church. The well known phrase, “the end justifies the means” is counter to kingdom values. And counter to the way our Lord functioned. Jesus always used means that justified his end. From the outset his earthly end was his sacrifice for the world’s redemption. The means he used justified this end.

Reflecting this last week-end on Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a case in point. Many of those who were placing their cloaks and palm branches down before him on his route into the city were those expecting him to establish his Messianic kingdom in the near future. Jesus could have done so, it was within his power, but it was not the means ordained by the Godhead for King Jesus to establish his Kingdom. The means to that end was found on a Cross at Calvary. This should have been no secret to his followers, for on several occasions Christ warned them what the “means” and “end” of his life and ministry were to be, but they were not focused on the same “end,”

Their “end” was an immediate kingdom where power and might would be theirs for the taking, ridding them of the awful Roman occupation. No longer would they live under such cruel domination, now they would possess free to control over their destiny. Worldly power and dominion is never our Master’s mode of operation (means), but always issues forth from a place of powerlessness and humility. Like Christ our Lord, it is a willingness to take up our cross and follow him to wherever he leads; to places where love and mercy meet.

For Christ followers looking at forming or structuring missional church expressions a “shared identity” in the context of an understanding of “means” (cruciformed life) should result in the end purpose, his Kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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One Response

  1. […] Caleb wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt Last Tuesday evening our Missional Learning Community invited Jon Stock from The Church of the Servant King in Eugene, OR to share around the question; What are some current missional eccleisal (church) forms and how might they be structured? Just as a side note or point of information, The Church of the Servant King (with sister congregations in Portland, OR and Gardena, CA) looks a good deal like what many are currently describing as “New Monasticism;” and have been in existence for nearly 3 […]

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