Tag: missional

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 8

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{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 6

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THE ROAD MAP TO FREEDOM

Survival Lesson #6: IDEAL PROTECTION = TIGHT CLOTHES, SHORT HAIR.
(Rethinking Church)

“Remember; no matter how desperate the situation seems, time spent thinking clearly is never time wasted.” – Brooks (p.87)

When facing a zombie apocalypse, having a well thought out survival strategy is your best bet to make sure you face another tomorrow. Decisions made in haste rarely work out. For instance, in an impulsive moment you think it is a good idea to light the zombies on fire to slow their pursuit. But then quickly realize that you still have zombies after you, only now they are flaming zombies. Earlier, we mentioned the Ten Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack, these are a good starting point. Follow them carefully if you want to experience any modicum of success. Deviate from it and there’s no telling how brief your existence will become. Consistency is key to longevity.

Likewise for the church, consistency is needed in the wake of our changing world. This shifting paradigm can either be met with excitement or fear. To alleviate that fear, it is helpful to have a few rules to live by as we begin our new journey. Becoming a transformative and missional church doesn’t simply happen. It must be cultivated. Samuel Escobar, in his book The New Global Mission, asserts that mission starts in the heart of God. If this is true, then all we must do is faithfully respond to God’s mission as a people who are sent into the world. To respond to God’s mission, Escobar offers us six simple truths that will act as marching orders into the future of our church. They are in harmony with our aforementioned post-Christian and globalized reality blended with the discussion about the key attributes of a transformational and missional church. They are as follows:

  1. The faith of the powerful is irrelevant, and mission has to be characterized by servanthood.
  2. The gospel is a source of liberating power.
  3. Faith is a spiritual combat.
  4. The Western interpretation of Scripture is not the final word.
  5. God is experienced as an awe-inspiriting divine mystery.
  6. The power of the faith community is in the laity

(from The New Global Mission p. 164)

There are many places we can begin in our road map towards a missional and transformative church, but the surest starting point, if we are hoping to effect change, must begin with the role of leader. If mission begins with God and manifests itself with his people, the leader is the spiritual middle man in this equation. The heart of the leader is the key place to begin our journey towards renovation of the church.

The following sections will give a brief overview of three key changes that leaders must embrace if they are to cultivate missional and transformational churches in the 21st century. These key changes will also guide me as I begin this new church plant. Rethinking diversity, hierarchy and spirituality at the leadership level will act as the epicenter for a catalytic move towards change…

{continued in part 7}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 5

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{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 3

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{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 2

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{continued from part 1or start at the beginning}

Survival Lesson #2: THEY FEEL NO FEAR, WHY SHOULD YOU?
(The Reality of the Post-Christian World)

“It may be impossible to know how many zombies are out there, if a bridge is down, or if all the boats in a marina are gone. So know your terrain. At least that factor will not change with an outbreak.” – Brooks (p. 96)

When setting out to look for supplies in a zombie-infested area, you need to understand your environment. What does the surroundings look like? Looking at the landscape of the Western Church, one key question arises: Why is it difficult for the church to connect and attract people today? Has something shifted? Is this change about issues of methodology, approach or has something greater happened. How widespread is the outbreak?

In the Western world, the Christian church has experienced a massive decline in its influence and impact on culture. Instead of responding with clear eyes and learning posture, the church seems to have adapted its approach to that of an ostrich. It has simply put its head in the sand and ignored the problem. “Christianity moved from being the dynamic, revolutionary, social, and spiritual movement to being a static religious institution with its attendant structures, priesthood, and sacraments” (Frost Exiles p. 5). This shift has brought about a virtual rigor mortis in the church; it has become rigid and lifeless.

Western Christianity is still grappling and grabbing for the way it used to be. The only problem is, its influence upon Western Society has long been shifting from the center of culture onto the margins. The sober reality is that the church’s time of prominence is long gone and it’s not coming back. “Religious faith is no longer a primary and ethical guide” (Frost p. 6). Instead of embracing this change, Christians are by in large, resisting it. This resistance further alienates them from the unbelieving masses that they are called to reach out to by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-12). How can you reach those that you have taken intentional steps to be separated from?

As we have seen when dealing with zombies, being loud and causing a stir rarely helps you, it only attracts the enemy and death. In an attempt to regain its place in society, the church has often resorted to age-old tactics of “shock and awe.” We loudly and judgmentally proclaim our beliefs as loudly as possible in the media, with bumper stickers, over blogs and also through our callous actions in the face of the watching world. The church has adopted a mentality that is driven by the core belief that we don’t have to be kind as long as we’re right. Being right, as they see it, is the most important thing. As a result, Christians are seen in contemporary culture as, “judgmental, hypocritical, too political, and antihomosexual” (Lyons The Next Christians p. 4). There is a gulf that must be dealt with if the church is going to exist in the 21st century.

Working in ministry both inside and outside the church has afforded me the benefit of being able to see things in a unique way. It was actually my experience working in a church that drove me to work in a parachurch. I remember the moment that I officially lost faith in the institutional church. I was a youth pastor in a large church. Within the few months that I was there, our youth group more than doubled in size with around 200 teenagers attending every Wednesday. I sat across the desk of the senior pastor during one of our weekly meetings. He was not happy about the growth. “We just don’t want those kinds of kids in our church,” he exclaimed to me with conviction. By ‘those kids’ he meant, the non-Christian ones. They didn’t like the fact that teenagers that were not raised in the church didn’t act like the ones that were. That was the moment my heart for the church died. I, then, spent the next seven years in ministry working outside the walls of the church with at-risk teenagers.

I know well the gulf that exists between the church and contemporary culture and have come to the conclusion that the only way to overcome this gap is by living differently. Too often have we seen ourselves as bridge builders when some gaps are not meant to be crossed. Instead of finding ways to fix the problem, I am offering an alternative. Abandon the institutional church and go live within contemporary culture. The church understands itself to be four walls constructed to house Christians for weekly services. What if we walked away from the problem completely? In the reality of the zombie apocalypse, we must become adept at discerning what to let go of and what to hold on to. The building that we once called home before the outbreak had begun now becomes a liability to us if we are not willing to let go of it. Staying mobile and moving light are the keys to our survival. With the new reality of the post-Christian world, we must pack light because the gospel was meant to travel.

Michael Frost, in his book, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, likens the current state of church to captives living in exile under the shadow of the dominant culture. If we begin to live in this way, our outlook changes. “Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God” (Hirsch The Forgotten Ways p.114). Next, we must begin to understand the second new reality that the church is grappling to make sense of: globalization.

{continued in part 3}

Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 1

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{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

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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

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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?

Passionate About Being Passionate: Are We Really Missional?

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This is absolutely brilliant. Liam Neeson kills me in this sketch.

As I watched him, I couldn’t help but think about that if you swapped the word “comedy” for “missional” it would sound like many conversations I’ve heard recently. Missional is such a buzz word. So many are saying they want to be missional, but don’t really understand what they are asking for. We end up being passionate about being passionate. We get excited without knowing what we want. As Christians we get consumed with the next greatest thing because it’s the next greatest thing. Think about the “purpose driven” or “emergent” movements.

So if we’re going to use the term “missional,” we at least better know what we’re talking about. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in their wonderful book, The Shape of Things to Come give us a starting point.

” The missional church is incarnational, not attractional, in it’s ecclesiology. By incarnational we mean it does not create sanctified spaces into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel. Rather, the missional church disassembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don’t yet know him.

The missional church is messianic, not dualistic, in it’s spirituality. That is, it adopts the worldview of Jesus the Messiah, rather than that of the GrecoRoman empire. Instead of seeing the world as divided between the sacred (religious) and profane (non-religous), like Christ it sees the world and God’s place in it as holistic and integrated.

The missional church adopts an apostolic, rather than a hierarchical, mode of leadership. By apostolic we mean a mode of leadership that recognizes the fivefold model detailed by Paul in Ephesians 6. It abandons the triangular hierarchies of the traditional church and embraces a biblical, flat-leadership community that unleashes the gifts of evangelism, apostleship, and prophecy, as well as the currently popular pastoral and teaching gifts. “

Ultimately we must recognize that being missional is not a program or something we should do – it’s is a way of life for both the church and the believer. We can’t be more missional… we either are missional or we are not.

In returning back to Liam, he was convinced that he was funny, but had no clue about the truth. For him to become funny, he would have to let go of what he was and embrace what he was to become. He can’t be both. To become incarnational, messianic and apostolic we must let go of the past biases, presuppositions, traditions in order to look forward, with clear eyes, to how the Lord is moving in the world around us. Once we begin to see the world this way, then we can join Him in His work.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?