Category: missional

The Church and Kevin Roberts

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.52.51 PM

When any of us look at the American church, it’s so easy to see a myriad of problems. It’s similar to a kid’s birthday party with a piñata where everyone knows it’s there, and the entire purpose of a piñata is to smash it to bits.

When looking at the problems of the church, some of the big ones would be lack of diversity, fear-mongering and a political erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction and the church… what? Well, it’s like a dose of Viagra and always pops up in the wrong situations. Think of all of the Christian boners: Franklin Graham, Ted Cruz and basically anyone who visits the creation museum. Those are easy targets because they stick out and are akin to punching a kitten.

That’s not what I want to talk about. I actually want to dialogue about something more sinister; something that lies below the surface. Something evil that happens every Sunday in pulpits and in fellowship halls. I’m talking about how Christians like to classify people.

We assume there are the good ones and the bad ones, right?  There are either the just plain evil ones or backsliding ones (hello people who happen drink or watch Deadpool). It’s judgy and an aphrodisiac of most conservatives. It excites them in a dirty, dirty way. Even the term backsliders sounds like something you find streaked in the rear of your tighty whiteys. No one wants that. Essentially it harkens us back to those old, silent, keystone cop films. There are the good guys and the bad guys. Everyone knows which is which. It’s just that simple, right?

But faith, lived out well, is never that easy.

So that brings me to Saturday Night Live. Take for instance the recent SNLs sketch called FBI Simulation, and it features the elusive Kevin Roberts. Who is Kevin Roberts? That’s a fair question. And the answer is: He’s the coolest bitch in town. 

Take a moment to watch it here:

Viewing this sketch, reminds me of one of the central problems of Western American Christianity… our sin of judging others. We take a cursory view of people, and then presume to know their stories, ambitions and motivations.

The sketch surrounds FBI recruits at a simulated gun range where they have to make spit-second decisions on who’s the good guy and who’s a threat. That’s where Kevin Roberts enters. He’s an animatronic enigma that doesn’t seem to fit into reality. Is he good? Is he bad? Why does he want a donut? No one may ever know.

In the church, we tend to respond to the Kevin Roberts of the world like the cadet in the sketch does… he shoots the guy that doesn’t fit the predisposed mold of good guy or bad guy. Roberts doesn’t make sense in our paradigm, and in return must be taken out like he’s bad.

We all do this in life. We judge others, fitting people into our preconceived notions and killing off anyone that doesn’t fit into our assumptions. It’s black vs. white. It’s good vs. bad. It’s boiling down the world into a simplistic way that makes us feel comfortable. If we know who is outside the tribe, then we know who is the “other” or bad guy.

But Kevin Roberts breaks the convention. The mould doesn’t fit. It presses us to think beyond our simple categories and classifications. He doesn’t fit into an easy type. So what do we do? We kill off the outliers. If they don’t fit, they must be bad.

The problem isn’t with the categories… it’s with us… the Christians. When we look at Jesus, he defied classifications, and always moved to the marginalized in society. He gravitated away from the one percenters and the religiously pious because they assumed that they had already figured out life. Their belief system was already stagnant and set in stone. There was nothing he could do with people that have already assumed that they have figured “it” out.

But the Christian faith isn’t about those people… even though they populate our American churches and sing our hymns. They’re pious posers… like Kylie Jenner on Instagram posting to women the picture of beauty while actually being the epitome of plastic surgery and fallacy. We worship the thing we hate most. But I digress in the snarky jabs of pop culture that verge on becoming the very situation that I’m raging against. My apologies.

Back to SNL. In the sketch, the FBI trainee stuck in the simulation decries, “If being a field agent means dealing with human puzzles like Kevin Roberts, maybe I belong behind a desk.”

If we as Christians assume that our role in God’s Kingdom is to be the guy behind the desk, or the bouncer or door keeper of who says who doesn’t get in… then we’ve missed the entirety of Scripture. Our call as the faithful is be loving, caring and welcoming of those who don’t fit into society’s assumptions and categories. Simply put, we are called to love those that others don’t love. We are called to love everyone who exists outside of our man made boundaries and classifications.

Basically put by Jesus and the Jewish tradition that came before him, we are called to love our neighbors. In the scriptural context, our neighbor is anyone outside of ourselves. With this, there is no room to judge others.

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 8

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

{continued from part 7 or start at the beginning}

Survival Lesson #8: ORGANIZE BEFORE THEY RISE!
(New Hierarchy)

 Unlike its human counterparts, an army of zombies is completely independent of support. It will not require food, ammunition, or medical attention. It will not suffer from low morale, battle fatigue, or poor leadership… Like the virus that gave it life, this undead force will continue to grow, spreading across the body of this planet until there is nothing left to devour.”– Brooks (p.155)

Never underestimate the power of a well thought out plan in the post-apocalyptic world. You may be smarter than a zombie, but they will always outnumber you. This truth must never be overlooked. Just like you can never over live your life; you can never over plan for a situation. No matter how simple it may seem; always be well organized.

The second key change the church must be made is oriented around how we choose to organize ourselves. Our hierarchy for leadership and structure speaks volumes towards the heart of a church without saying a word. “Christian social ethics should not begin with attempts to develop strategies designed to make the world more “just,” but with the formation of a society shaped and informed by the truthful character of the God we find revealed in the stories of Israel and Jesus” (Newbigin A Community of Character p. 92).

Traditionally, church has operated under a top down model for leadership and power. If we look at the Gospels, that is never the case. Christ sends out his disciples, two by two. The church in Acts was driven and expanded as it advanced one relationship at a time. Moreover, in a post-Christian culture, there is a pronounced distrust of church and church leadership which is why I am suggesting the adoption of a polycentric, flat model of leadership where ”leaders interrelate and incarnate the various purposes of Christ in such a way that the entire body is activated to service and matures in love” (Woodward Creating a Missional Culture p.60). Leadership in this structure, cultivates, empowers and equips the congregation to be Christ in the community. It unleashes the church to do the work of the church. Church in this way is poised for action that takes place in the streets, the workplace and the living room. It is interactive, relational and missional. For the church to survive in the 21st century, those who follow Christ must become the catalyst and cultivators of Christianity. This is the only way…

{continued in part 9}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 5

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

{continued from part 4 or start at the beginning}

Survival Lesson #5: NO PLACE IS SAFE, ONLY SAFER.
(Learning to be Missional)

“Somnambulists [sleepwalkers] are the greatest threat to humanity, other than humanity itself” – Brooks (xii)

Although each zombie attack is different, one thing always remains constant; there is strength in numbers. The living survivors must band together and work in unison as never before. Social status and standing are gone; the old ways of a world have passed away. In the new economy, we must gather together, working in unison to facing the zombie hordes. Venturing out alone can often mean sudden death.

In the same sense, when it comes to the life of faith, we were created to be in community with others. Life should be lived together. Too long have institutional churches been known for doing church as opposed to being the church. We must become less about programming and more about sharing space. The original genius of Christ can be seen in the fact that he left the earth before he established the church. He knew that if he had stayed behind, the church would have never grown much beyond him. It started in the hands of a simple group of people because Jesus always meant for the church to be about community. That was then, and if we look at the focus of Western Church today, it looks much like this diagram (from McLaren‘s A Generous Orthodoxy p.117):

Here, church has become all about the individual. Once we lose the communal nature of church, it becomes a service driven institution. Only ‘service’ is not the same type of service we mentioned in the last section. Service in this context can be likened to that of a commodity. Church now produces a product for Christian consumers. In this paradigm, church exits to serve the Christian and has little impact on the world around it. Pastors are paid to keep congregants happy and hopefully attract new ones so the church can pay the bills. This may be a crude way to put it, but at its base level, this is the hard truth.

When we look at the Bible, a diagram (from McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy p.118) that closer resembles Christ’s original call (the Great Commission), shifts to look like this:

With this shift, the church exists to reach out to the world and the individual exists to serve the church. This is the paramount shift. “To be chosen, to be elect, therefore does not mean that the elect are the saved and the rest are the lost. To be the elect in Christ Jesus… means to be incorporated into his mission to the world, to be the bearer of God’s saving purpose for the whole world” (Newbigin The Gospel in a Pluralist Society 1336).

Too often, like the living dead, we have become like sleepwalkers, making our way through life without asking questions or challenging the way things are – even if those ways are wrong. For the church to shift from the first diagram to the second, it must take on the mantle of John the Baptist. In knowing Christ, John saw a new reality and stated, “He [Christ] must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30 TNIV). As the Church we are called to be a sign of the kingdom that, like John the Baptist, points towards the present reality of Christ. Either we believe that the Gospel exists for us (believers) or we believe that the Gospel exists for others. Whichever one you follow has great implications upon your walk as a Christian; both having profoundly different trajectories.

In Genesis, God called to Abraham and said, “I will surely bless you… and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 22:17,18 TNIV). Abraham was promised blessings, and also that his descendants would be a blessing to the world. We are blessed and but also called to be a blessing to the world. As I journey forward, my missional heart will be at the core of who we are as a new church plant. We, as a church community, must overcome the “me” culture that has lead the West into a post-Christian state and focus it back to the “we” culture epitomized by the early church. The number one problem with the church today is not globalization or the shift in Christianity; we are the problem. As Christ followers, we have made the church about our own selfish desires and pursuits. If we are to be a church that is both transformative and missional at heart, we must understand that everything centers on Jesus, not ourselves. “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this” (Bonhoeffer Life Together p.21). When walking towards planting this church, I feel this quote wonderfully focuses on what the heart of any church must be grounded on: Christ.

In the next section, we will outline a roadmap towards freedom. It will involve us rethinking the way we look at church and cultivate leadership. These will be the steps that guide us to being a church that is both missional and transformative…

{continued in part 6}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 4

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

{continued from part 3 or start at the beginning}

THE SOLUTIONS:

Survival Lesson #4: KEEP MOVING, KEEP LOW, KEEP QUIET, KEEP ALERT!
(Learning to be Transformational)

“Do not investigate any strange noises or lights in the distance. Just get out. Every side trip, every pause in the journey, increases the odds of being found and devoured.”  Brooks (p. 95)

Striving to remain alive in the face of a zombie outbreak is difficult, but it also brings with it clarity and a glorious simplicity to your everyday existence. Faced with a struggle to live a prioritized life in a way where survival is paramount. There is no tomorrow unless you live well today. You learn to become truly alive and cherish every moment when death is possibly around the corner. It brings about an incredible amount of focus to your world.

In our times as well, this new reality is bringing about a wave of clarity to our existence as Christians living in the shadow of an empire. It is in this place of simplicity that transformation is possible. “The Christian movement must be the living, breathing promise to society that it is possible to live out the values of Christ – that is, to be a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbalances in the empire” (Frost Exiles p. 15). Armed with only the power of the Gospel, we are called to engage in the work of the incarnational way of Christ.

Transformation becomes possible when we let go of our past assumptions of church. Old symbols of power, like big buildings or elaborate services belong in the past age. New movements involve community and helping the marginalized in society. Demonstrations of money or power no longer impress this new culture. Power comes through influence, and influences are only brokered through acts of redemption. “Redemption is the beginning of our participation in God’s work of restoration in our lives and the world. Understanding that one idea literally changes everything” (Lyons The New Christians p.53).

Taking a page from our brothers and sisters in the south, we are seeking to embody a faith that is “marked by a culture of poverty, an oral liturgy, narrative preaching, uninhibited emotionalism, maximum participation in prayer and worship, dreams and visions, faith healing, and an intense search for community and belonging” (Escobar The New Global Mission p.15). We are called to exude imagination as a church that tells new stories and reveals new narratives. Our faith is grounded in the past, but it is also unfolding in the present. In our new faith community, it is our call “for Christians to exhibit confidence in the lordship of Yahweh as the truth of our existence and in particular of our community” (Newbigin Community of Character p.86). Living like this, driven by faith, changes the lives of those with whom you journey with. The Gospel begins to pour out on to the community as we journey together as the hands and feet of Christ. This is a walk of meekness and compassion. It is one of downward mobility that seeks to serve rather than be served. It is through this existence that leadership is redefined into the mold of Christ. It is also through living in this way that we become more awake to God’s presence in our community. This is the starting point of being transformational.

Where does it go from here? That is not for me to say. Our church will follow the Lord and begin with service. He will guide us to the rest. “To suffer joyfully for the gospel, and to forgive and serve those who inflict that suffering, is to be taught by Christ to walk the way of the cross. It is only such a church, radical in its obedience, that makes known the beauty, truth and power of the Christian message to the world“ (Ramachandra Faiths in Conflict? p.171).

Making the decision to plant a church has become one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I have wrestled with doubt and fear. I have also felt a deep call within my heart to passionately take a leap of faith. While reading the book A Tale of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards, one line struck me. “Beginning empty-handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them” (Edwards p.69). Transformation can only take place in the presence of God.  I believe that as a pastor and leader, I could never expect my faith community to do anything I was not willing to do myself. As my family is preparing to pack up and move across the country to plant a church, I’m beginning to learn that transformation only happens when we step out and take a risk. We take the step of faith the Lord uses the process to transform us. To be a church that is transformational, we must be dreamers and people of great faith. We must also be willing to pray earnestly and take great risks. The new way of live flows easily into our next solution for the church in the 21st century: learning to be missional…

{continued in part 5}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 3

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

{continued from part 2 or start at the beginning}

Survival Lesson #3: BLADES DON’T NEED RELOADING.
(The Reality of Globalization) 

During the Qin Dynasty, all books not relating to practical concerns such as agriculture or construction were ordered burned by the emperor to guard against “dangerous thought.” Whether accounts of zombie attacks perished in the flames will never be known.– Brooks (p.168)

When living in an undead world with its devastated landscape and limited supplies, you must adopt new rules for survival. For instance, when thinking of weapons for defense, conventional items like guns are no longer your best choice. In a pinch they do the job, but typically they are too loud and attract other zombies. They are also in a constant need of ammunition. Think about axes or machetes. They don’t need to be reloaded. In this new existence, old conventions must be rethought in order to succeed in this new reality.

In a similar shift, globalization is taking over our world with an unprecedented fury. “The shift in global Christianity has already occurred. The shift in American evangelicalism is well under way” (Rah The Next Evangelicalism p.191). Not only do we find ourselves living in a post-Christian nation, but globalization is also impacting the face of culture and, vicariously, Christianity. The face of Christianity is experiencing a movement towards the global south. This means that the Western influence of Christianity is waning in the wake of the rise of the Global South (Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania). The world is changing and the way we engage ministry must change with it. We are no longer the Western Church; we are now the Global Church.

“Globalization and the emergence of the worldwide theater has torn down geographical boundaries” (Lyons The Next Christians p. 20). Missionaries are now coming from around the world to evangelize the lost in the United States. There are no longer foreign missions; the world itself is now a mission field. You no longer need to travel far distances to experience foreign peoples; they are now living in our neighborhoods. “The majority of the world’s non-Christians will not be geographically distant people but culturally distant peoples who often reside together in the shadows of urban spires in the metro areas of every continent” (Bakke Theology as Big as the City p.18). Missions now happen as we reach out to our neighbors in and around our cities.

With the growing impact of globalization, many things change, but our desire and need for relationships remain and, even quite possibly, escalate in this new globalized world. Relational intimacy is quickly becoming the new world equity. Institutions no longer hold the power and if we hope to make change and spread the gospel, it will happen one relationship at a time. This is the core of influence now; it is no longer about wealth or power. In the West, we must learn to listen more to others from around the globe because of this is a paradigm shift. We no longer have all of the answers, and our old ways are no longer working. There is a learning posture that we must take up as evangelicals because “the Gospel speaks to people of every culture and is translatable to every culture” (Escobar The New Global Mission p.12). This learning posture will lead us to engaging in cross culture ministry reaching out to people in our own context. We must approach others with open hands. Philip Jenkins spoke of the churches from the Global South as being characterized as, “churches [that] preach deep personal faith and communal orthodoxy, mysticism and puritanism, all founded on scriptural authority” (Jenkins The Next Christendom 3696). To Western churches their approaches may seem simplistic, but there is a power to a faith that travels light. This new face of Christian spirituality centers around a God that of the present and meets the needs of today as opposed to a God is only focused on eternity.

Diversity is not a word I would use to describe any of my experiences in ministry, much less put the word global in front of it. I have worked for predominantly white churches and ministries. They have been focused domestically where most of the informed practices we followed were from older traditions that were shaped over time in a small community. Entering into the MAGL program, I was ecstatic to have the honor of being classmates and friends with varied pastors and missionaries from around the world. Seeing ministry and theology from their perspectives has changed and enriched mine. This new globalized Christianity makes more sense to my heart than the institutionalized version I had grown weary of.

Globalization has broken down the walls and doors of the mission field. It not only changes where we do ministry, but how we do ministry. This past summer I was sitting down with Joel Sengoga, a Rwandan pastor, speaking to him about my journey with church planting. I had become overwhelmed with all that needed to be accomplished and he quickly stopped me, saying, “Stuart, you Americans over think everything. It’s not always about planning. Faith is simply taking the next step God has in front of you.” Joel’s way of looking at ministry was so simple, yet profound and deeply biblical. I had become caught up in organizational minutiae and lost God in the process. The truth of the Gospel exists in its profound simplicity. I was reminded that we must be a part of the “rediscovery of the original genius of the teaching of Jesus and the missional practice of the earliest Christians all lived out boldly on the soil of a post-Christian empire” (Frost Exiles p.26).

So we are caught in a world that is both globalized and post-Christian. This may seem like a problem for many, but these two new realities are creating resurgence towards the raw power of the Gospel – people moving in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. As it was said before, people do not fear change, they fear loss. Loss is happening, but it is nothing compared to the exponential gains that are waiting for us. The power lies in what happens after we come to grips with this loss. Things are not what they used to be, but there is hope that tomorrow is vastly better than yesterday. These new realities bring with them new possibilities. It is because of this, that I am excited about my endeavor into church planting. I’m beginning to see the sheer simplicity and power of the Gospel in new ways. I am learning to now be awake to God’s presence and the possibilities that are springing up around me as I take that next step of faith. It has brought about a new sense of clarity.

With these new realities in our world today, how does the church thrive in the face of a post-Christian and globalized world? The church must learn to become transformational and missional, not to merely survive, but to thrive. The days of striving are gone. There is hope for what is around the corner, and there is great excitement as we begin to look at the solutions…

{continued in part 4}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 1

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page


{continued from introduction}

Survival Lesson #1: USE YOUR HEAD: CUT OFF THEIRS.
(My Journey Out of Tradition)

“Often, a school is your best bet-perhaps not for education but certainly for protection from an undead attack.” – Brooks (p.79)

Regardless of where you find yourself in the zombie apocalypse, one thing is true. You must keep your head and think clearly. It is the difference between life and death. I have yet to experience the walking dead, in the cinematic sense of the world, but after working for years in ministry I knew what a dead church looked like. They were everywhere; it was like a horror movie. Everywhere you looked, there were zombie churches. On the surface they looked alive, but inside they were long dead. After a while, you learn to survive inside of them. On the surface you smile and act like everything is fine. The better you fake it, the greater your chances for not getting bit. I had become a versatile chameleon, but living this way comes at a cost. On the inside, I was cynical and bitter. In 2010, I had been in vocational ministry for ten years. I had worked for a church plant, a church (as a youth pastor) and then was the director of a parachurch youth organization. I knew how to play the game, but frankly I was bored with ministry and my soul was burnt out. I was tired of playing the game and I was tried of faking it. I had lost my faith in the church and ministry, but not in Jesus; which is a dangerous place to be. It leads you to become a lone wolf. With Christianity, our faith is rarely dynamic when we practice it alone.

Doing ministry in a small rural town had become suffocating. Small churches meant small thinking. I knew I needed a change and wanted to be challenged and stretched intellectually and spiritually. I knew something was missing in my life; I just wasn’t sure what it was. That yearning led me to enroll in Fuller Theological Seminary’s Masters of Arts in Global Leadership program in the fall of 2010. I assumed that any change was a good change. In this situation, I couldn’t have been more right.

Flash forward to December 2012. I’m sitting across from a good friend of mine having coffee. I tell him that in the coming year, I’m going to plant a church. He bursts out laughing, “Ha, ha, but you hate church!?!” There was a deep change in me that had happened over the past two years. It surprised others and, frankly, surprised me. This paper is an amalgamation of my collective journey towards transformation that has occurred over the course of the MAGL program. Some of this personal renovation has taken place in the classroom setting. While other times, change has manifested in my personal life and ministry career. As I began to develop from within, the outward manifestation began to alter my journey and guide the path of my life into a new direction. I can honestly say that I am not the same person that I was when I began the program. I have discovered that there is life happening, even in the face of a zombie apocalypse. You just have to learn how live in a new way and survive. You have to also develop a keen eye to see life springing up, even in the face of death.

{continued in part 2}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: An Introduction

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

LESSONS FOR SURVIVING A ZOMBIE ATTACK (An Introduction)

In Max Brook’s seminal book on the topic of surviving the impending undead apocalypse, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, he outlines ten easy to follow and practical tips for staying alive. The top ten lessons for surviving a zombie attack are as follows:

1. USE YOUR HEAD: CUT OFF THEIRS.
2. THEY FEEL NO FEAR, WHY SHOULD YOU?
3. BLADES DON’T NEED RELOADING.
4. KEEP MOVING, KEEP LOW, KEEP QUIET, KEEP ALERT!
5. NO PLACE IS SAFE, ONLY SAFER.
6. IDEAL PROTECTION = TIGHT CLOTHES, SHORT HAIR.
7. GET UP THE STAIRCASE, THEN DESTROY IT.
8. ORGANIZE BEFORE THEY RISE!
9. GET OUT OF THE CAR, GET ONTO THE BIKE.
10. ZOMBIE MAYBE GONE, BUT THE THREAT LIVES ON…

We are living in time of the zombie, culturally speaking. From TV shows like The Walking Dead to the up coming movies Warm Bodies and World War Z. Vampires used to be cool, now it’s zombies. So, what is behind this cultural explosion of the undead? I think on some level, it speaks to something deep within us. It’s not simply about horror; it’s about our cultural anxieties that play against our fear of the unknown and the monsters within us. People are comfortable and want the world to remain as it is. Professor Charles Fleming, while lecturing on the lifecycle of an organization once said, “we do not fear change, what we really fear is loss.”

In the same vein, the church in the West is experiencing great loss. Like the familiar motif in zombie stories, we are facing loss and must learn to survive in a new reality against monsters that closely resemble ourselves. The reign of the Western church’s dominance is over. We find ourselves in a new world and must learn to function under a new set of rules. Like zombies, there are still churches operating under the old paradigm and they are the walking dead. So to survive we must embrace change. There are many faces to the walking dead, but the ones that we will focus on here are namely traditions and biases. Each of these stalk us, seeking to feed on our souls, stifle hope, and kill the future. The church must learn to live and survive in this near reality.

In light of the above, to be transformational and missional in today’s globalized and post-Christian world, the church must begin by rethinking leadership in terms of ethnic diversity, hierarchy and spirituality. I will explore in depth what a transformational and missional church should look like and also analyze the key leadership themes that must be incorporated for these changes to be possible.

Through the course of this, we will delve into these themes as they have impacted my life and spiritual journey. They also act as a road map to guide me as I am beginning to plant a church. This will be equal parts personal process as well as a critique of the present and future state of the Western Church. The journey towards transformation is not an easy one or for the faint of heart. It is much like surviving the zombie apocalypse. You must be smart, savvy, and you cannot accomplish this alone. As you will see, this process hasn’t been easy. There has been much fought for as well as loss. The following pages detail key and signature themes I have learned in this process of survival and change. Prepare yourself because following after our savior is rarely a PG rated affair. It can get bloody. We will begin our journey with the words that Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to speak of his own life. In Letters & Papers from Prison he spoke in these terms,

“My life has followed a straight and unbroken course… if I were to end my life here in these conditions, that would have a meaning that I think I could understand; on the other hand, everything might be a thorough preparation for a new start and a new task when peace comes” (Bonhoeffer Letters & Papers from Prison p. 272).

It is my hope that this will all be a preparation for a new start. Let us begin…

{continued in part 1}

Moneyball and Missional Church

Share on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

Have you seen the movie Moneyball? If you haven’t, you should. Try watching it with missional eyes.

I’m a student at Fuller Seminary and the other day a group of us were discussion the Alex J. Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk’s terrific book The Missional Leader. In the book, they contrast two styles of church leadership: Pastoral and Missional. Pastoral (traditional attraction church) is described  by a top down hierarchy of responsibility whereas Missional is seen as a linear or flat model of cultivation of mission through empowering others (there is no distinct power structure).  The authors characterize the typical clergy in the Pastoral model as a celebrity or a “home-run hitter.”  In our group, someone asked, “If a pastoral leader must be “home-run-hitter,” then what must a missional pastor be?”

My answer was: “Watch Moneyball for your answer.”

In the movie (and in actual life because it’s semi-autobiographical), manager for the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane figures out that most baseball teams go after the home run hitters and pay them loads of cash because they are flashy (and supposedly win games). But overall, home run hitters don’t win games. Beane began to look at different stats besides the typical batting average and home runs. He discovers that what mattered more than home runs (and resulted in more wins) was simply getting on base (on-base percentage and slugging percentage). If you had more players on base more often, then your chances for scoring (and then winning) greatly increase.

When we go searching for home run hitters (in ministry) we do so because it’s showy, it fills the seats and seems like it can result in more “wins.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. Making sure that people are on base is risky because you don’t always know the outcome (with a home run, you at least get 1 run). But getting on base is more missional because it requires others to knock in the runs. It involves more of the team and statistically should produce better results. Ultimately it puts the outcome more in the hands of the Lord and not in Christian superstars.
______________

Any thoughts?