Saturday, November 11, 2006

Top Ten Things Not Found In A Missional Church

I found this list from David Fitch most interesting. The “missional church” is the description/title given a church that identifies with today’s “emerging church” movement. This movement claims to be the church for our new postmodern generation who appears to be tired of the production, professionalism, and isolationism that sometimes accompanies the mega-church model that has been at the center of church growth strategies over the last several decades.

Whether you agree with the “missional church” strategy or not, we would be foolish to not watch closely and try to learn all we can from what is going on in this movement. I say this because I feel that both national statistics and the conversations I have had with postmoderns have confirmed that there are some shifts in how these new generations think and what it will take to effectively reach them for Christ. Unfortunately many of these “emerging churches” have allowed the postmodern epistemology (how we know what we know) to steer them toward some dangerous theological convictions (perhaps it would be more appropriate to say dangerous theological non-convictions). Anyhow, only time will tell how this will all play out in our culture and the church. In the mean time, we must be winsome and take care to not allow the cultural paradigms we were raised with to render us irrelevant with new generations.

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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.

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.

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.

5.) Should not expect a raucous "light 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.

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.

(HT: VitaminZ)


John Carlson said...

First, hasn't the missional church movement tried to separate itself from the emergent conversationalists? (i.e. Mark Driscoll, etc.?) I didn't think the missional church was exclusively emergent??

Second, you might want to change the title to reflect the actual list, which is "TEN THINGS ANYONE WHO JOINS IN A TWENTY FIRST CENTURY MISSIONAL CHURCH PLANT SHOULD NOT EXPECT." That's different than "not found in a missional church."

People really need to know the missional church as described by the movement is nothing new, (sorry to burst bubbles!) and I would argue that there have been churches in the last 30 years that have certainly been every bit as missional as the current movement describes that also have included many of the attributes listed in the list. Now, that said, many of those past and current missional churches are changing with the times, and have changed in many ways that compliment what's pointed out in this list. Understandably, a new missional church plant is not going to look the same in this day in age as one that was planted in the last 30 years.

I think it's kind of difficult and dangerous when someone makes statements of "absolutes" like this list does. I would also argue on point 4, that one can have organic, authentic, simple beauty in a worship service, AND STILL can and should have production style excellence. Anything we put on stage before the body of Christ and God himself as a worship offering should deserve our excellence. And I would argue that in our day in age, people watching and listening to a simple, organic, and beautiful service as described, know, realize, and appreciate the difference when it's done with technical excellence as opposed to lackadaisical sloppiness. One should not confuse laziness, poor technique, un-profesionalism, and just lack of effort, for organic, simple, and authentic, which I feel is too often the case here. Not that everything has to be slick and over produced of course. But technical, musical, and production excellence can still apply. Tonight at a worship conference I watched a truly authentic, beautiful, and very simple worship offering with just 3 people on stage. Yet it was carried out with the help of MANY behind the scenes technical people all working hard to provide excellence coming off the stage musically and visually, as did the musicians on stage. And yet, it "appeared" very simple, beautiful, and certainly authentic.

Let's stop with the "will haves, won't haves, can't haves, will nots" etc. (that also manage to zing some arrows at worship models in order to make one movement/person feel and assume some sort of superiority over another.) There is room for God to receive all kinds of worship expressions. One thing we know for sure is that God gave His most excellent effort in all creation to us. We should offer no less in return.

scooterpastor said...

The author of this specific post is emergent; therefore, I think he is claiming missional church as his own (though you are right John, there is such a thing as missional that isn’t emerging). The title to the list comes from his post. I posted this, not as a promotion to his philosophy, but as an interesting case study. There are more people who are suspicious of big churches with big programs. I definitely don’t think the answer is to fold up shop and run. As you mentioned John, there are excellent ways to create moments in worship that are intimate, meaningful, and allow you to breathe. This is more important now then ever.

My main response to this post is:

1. Bigger is not always better. Keep our weekends diverse, giving opportunity for different textures that are simple, unique, and reflective.

2. Though it should be in somewhat contemporary skin, incorporate elements that represent our Christian heritage (creeds and hymns are actually a good thing).

3. Don’t be afraid to lament. We don’t need to be happy all the time.

4. Accompany good theology with action. Serve our community, feed the poor, etc…

5. Our mission must drive us. This is nothing new to the church, just a good reminder to us.

6. Speak in stories and remember that our postmodern generation has a different epistemology than past generations. Consequently our words, assumptions, and ways of thinking are quite different. We need to keep the narrative of redemptive history woven into everything we do.

There are probably more conclusion that could be made, but these seem like some of the most practical to Parkview and churches like us.