Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Marks of a Missional Church

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger were interviewed (on video) for an upcoming workshop "Living Missionally" in Ventura, CA on January 21, hosted by Reggie McNeal.
Here are the prep questions that were asked (and a partial summary of Ryan's answers):

Bold = questions
indent = Ryan's comments
Italics = my comments

1. What are the marks of churches (people) who live missionally?
They no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with those outside the community. Connecting with those outside happens within the culture, by insiders to that culture who express the gospel through how they live.
This is what Jesus said – GO!

2. What is it that keeps a church (people) from thinking missionally?
We have been raised with the idea that much of our life and our responsibilities as Christians are reflected in the weekly church service. It is how we think as Christians in Western cultures where 'going to church' has been an essential part of being a Western citizen. Our context has changed, Christendom is crumbling, but the shift to missional living is a huge shift for Western Christians. It might take the Western church fifty to a hundred years to make the shift, and many won't make the journey. In contrast, those Christians outside the west, who have never lived within 'Christendom', do not think of the church service as the connecting point. They have no illusions that those they are serving would be remotely interested in a church service. Instead, they embody the gospel through serving, both in deeds and words.

This is a big, big, shift, and it scares a lot of people.
In fact, we try to make the weekly “church service” equal “the church”. We try to make the weekly “church service” be and do all that the church is supposed to be and do. And of course this fails miserably, because the weekly “church service” was never supposed to be everything.

3. When people (church) suddenly "get it", what does that mean? ... and what do you think brings the revelation?
Christian leaders are burned out. They spend an inordinate amount of hours just keeping the machine running, both in mainline and seeker/purpose driven/gen-x churches. They know no other way to do ministry, and if running the machine isn't it, then what is? When these Christians discover a more organic way of serving God, of emulating Jesus, it gives them hope. They do not need to leave the faith to find integrity or rest. Granted, this shakes up their world, and their future is anything but smooth. But they find a passion again, like a first love, and it sustains them for the tough road ahead...
Running the machinery or being with God? Let’s see… let’s do the one that is least likely to result in Christ shaping and forming himself in us…

4. What is/are the hardest obstacle(s) for people/church to overcome in order to being living missionally?
Early in the 21st century, the American church is trained to consume, to be recipients of ministry, to go to church to 'get needs met'. It is how we are formed in the culture, and the church does not train us to be any different. To be active, to be a producer in the faith community, to share the burden, are the birth pangs in the formation of a missional community. Facilitating this type of transformation is one of the most important tasks of leaders today...
Right on… easy to say… difficult to work. Which is one of the reasons we see new churches rise up, because ones that have been around for a while often have become immune to change. Preservation not transformation is the watchword.

5. What is/are the most exciting examples of a people/church who is/are living missionally?
In my book with Eddie Gibbs, I share many, many stories that reveal what missional living in the postmodern West looks like...I couldn't be more excited about these people or their journeys...
6. What was it that drew you into seeking what you found? ... what did you find?
Like many of the people I interviewed, I was on a journey. Was there a way that I could express my faith in my world that would have some integrity? That would look like Jesus? That wouldn't make Christians look unnecessarily weird? As I began to spend time with these leaders and these communities, I found hope. They were asking the same questions! They became my teachers -- and more importantly, my friends...
Journey is the language of growth and change. That’s why we seldom use it.


The Righteousness of God said...

'Trad' church is caught up with Old Testament thinking and Theology. It isn't even scripturally applicable today. This has been best expressed as seeing and knowing 'God at a distance'. Very safe of course. People go to the temple to worship (exhibiting very sad expressions on the best of days - I have yet to really see God's House as a true place of prayer - most are terrified of this concept).

I would challenge the church to start living in the eternal life we have now....with New Testament mentality and lenses: Rev 21. 3-4 specifically 'Look,the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people' His Life is in us now and for all eternity. He currently inhabits his temple - his chosen people. When this is appropriated and understood you have missional people (a vibrant church) that goes to a hurting world. God takes them there!

This isn't rocket science...this is God's science!

p.s. God does not sit around Sunday morning looking for His People and their sacrifices. He inhabits his people 24/7 now and forever! Buildings are nothing more than mausoleums...tombs for the dead! Even Jesus left the tomb and went about his Father's buisness.

Scott said...

Mike - you missed giving your comments under point number 5, where he was asked for examples and he referred to his book.

I'd suggest the comment "Shameless Plug".

That being said, I really like his refreshing comments as it totally gels with my own thoughts. Sunday can serve as a weekly celebration while the church continues to meet and serve throughout the week.

I hope we can find time amongst all our self serving programs to make the change.