Friday, November 10, 2006

Don’t Try This at Home

I have been trying to develop a missional mindset and, more importantly, a missional lifestyle. I’m trying to lead my church into a missional approach to ministry.

As I mentioned previously, this is a huge gamble. And it should be.

I maintain that following Christ should feel like a gamble. If it doesn’t feel like a gamble then we’re probably not really following him. We are probably just trying to get him to bless us as we pursue our own way.

It is important, however, that people in a congregation know what they are getting themselves in for when they become “missional.”

David Fitch, author of
The Great Giveaway, has compiled a list of warnings about the cost of doing missional ministry. I have included it here along with some of my comments (and a few minor edits):
Ten Things Anyone Who Joins In a Twenty First Century Missional Church Plant Should Not Expect
David participated in starting a missional congregation “from scratch.” These are his observances from what he experienced. I suspect, however, that any congregation that seeks to operate missionally will have similar experiences.
1.) Should not expect to regularly come to church for just one hour, get what you need for your own personal growth and development, and your kid’s needs, and then leave till next Sunday. Expect mission to change your life. Expect however a richer life than you could have ever imagined.
Missional life is demanding but also deeply fulfilling.
2.) Should not expect that Jesus will fit in with every consumerist capitalist assumption, lifestyle, schedule or accoutrement you may have adopted before coming here. Expect to be freed from a lot of crap you will find out you never needed.
Some times we will feel like the rich young ruler who was told to sell all his possessions.
3.) Should not expect to be anonymous, unknown or be able to disappear in this church Body. Expect to be known and loved, supported in a glorious journey.

4.) Should not expect production style excellence all the time on Sunday worship gatherings. Expect organic, simple and authentic beauty.
Some times the “commitment to excellence” gets in the way of true excellence.
5.) Should not expect a raucous “lights out” youth program that entertains the teenagers, puts on a show that gets the kids “pumped up,” all without parental involvement. Instead as the years go by, with our children as part of our life, worship and mission (and when the light shows dim and the cool youth pastor with the spiked hair burns out) expect our youth to have an authentic relationship with God thru Christ that carries them through a lifetime of journey with God.
This seems like a landmine to me. Parents really need to think this through.
6.) Should not expect to always “feel good,” or ecstatic on Sunday mornings. Expect that there will ALSO be times of confession, lament, self-examination and just plain silence.

7.) Should not expect a lot of sermons that promise you God will prosper you with “the life you’ve always wanted” if you’ll just believe Him and step out on faith and give some more money for a bigger sanctuary. Expect sustenance for the journey.

8.) Should not expect rapid growth whereby we grow this church from 10 to a thousand in three years. Expect slower organic inefficient growth that engages people’s lives where they are at and sees troubled people who would have nothing to do with the gospel marvelously saved.

9.) Should not expect all the meetings to happen in a church building. Expect a lot of the gatherings will be in homes, or sites of mission.

10.) Should not expect arguments over style of music, color of carpet, or even doctrinal outlier issues like dispensationalism. Expect mission to drive the conversation.
This doesn’t mean that there will be no arguments or disagreements.
O AND BY THE WAY Should not expect that community comes to you. I am sorry but true community in Christ will take some “effort” and a reshuffling of priorities for both you and your kids. Yes I know you want people to come to you and reach out to you and that you’re hurting and busy. But assuming you are a follower of Christ (this message is not for strangers to the gospel) you must learn that the answer to all those things is to enter into the practices of “being the Body” in Christ, including sitting, eating, sharing and praying together.
Jesus said that potential disciples should count the cost of following him. (Do most of us experience any “cost” of following Jesus?) Those who seek to live missionally need to take a similar inventory.

As for me, I’m all in.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”


Missional Jerry said...

excellent post yet again

Pastor Rod said...

Thanks, Jerry.

Your encouragement means a lot to me.


chamblee54 said...

Hey, this is off topic to the present subject, but so be it.
I have read your meeting with "centurion".
The man has a lot of personal problems. I wouldn't feel bad about not getting along with him.

Pastor Rod said...


Thanks for taking the time to look me up. I don't know that I feel bad as much as that I'm confused.

I also feel sad that Frank seems to miss the whole spirit of being a Christ follower. He wants to draw sharp lines demarcating who's in and who's out.

You're welcome here any time. I don't ban people or even threaten to. Doesn't seem like the way Jesus would operate. And I really do try to live the way he lived.

I slip up at times, but that's what my goal is.

Thanks again,


Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

As a disclaimer: I come from a different perspective.

How could anyone disagree with those ten principles? I (what you might call a traditionalist) have seen many positive "think out of the box" approaches that are coming from men who call themselves "emegent" (no definitions, please).

The community emphasis, the rejection of hedonism, and the reawakening of humanitarian outreach are some of the more salty views that I appreciate.

But to be honest, just when I feel comfortable about entering the dialogue, thinking that we were going to our knees to ask for help in a closer lifestyle emulation of the Lord Jesus, someone pops up, pulls out a sheet marked "Cardinal doctrines of Christianity", and says with a loud voice, "I'm not sure about all this".

It is at that point that I realize this movement is not going to be a fresh wind that centers around the ten things you've shared, but this movement from many corners is going to creat a doctrinal kaleidoscope that may never appear clear again. A journey for some, confusion for others. A large ship can, when the moorings are loosed, stay close to the dock for a while. But in time she will run aground. Sorry, good post though.