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Archive for the ‘missional church’ Category

tangible2Summary: The Tangible Kingdom, Creating Incarnational Community, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay is a great starter book for those looking to create the initial framework for a missional type community that goes beyond the walls of traditional Sunday church.

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The Tangible Kingdom begins with a rather compelling story of Hugh finding his own transition out of traditional church and into a more missional approach.  He engages what many would call an epiphany moment of being Jesus to the least of these.  Hugh recounts meeting Fiona and the rest of a late night crew in a Irish Pub and realizing that it takes love to reach people.

This beginning captures me right from the start.  Hugh’s own journey out of traditional community and into what it looked like to start his own “incarnational” community took time and patience.  The book will serve as a practical reminder of not just the tangible expressions of this type of community but also the emotional roller coaster that those who attempt it will encounter.  But Hugh makes it very clear that it was definitely worth the ride.

Most of the book is Hugh’s journey in starting Adullum. Adullum appears to be an emerging community that is really taking to heart what it means to be missional in a community. Matt is referenced but seems to contribute only the questions at the end of the chapter.  Hugh has some great conversations about what it means to be missional that serve as great starting points to reaching out to those in your community.  His ideas on “posture” and “missionary as advocate” should be Reading 101.

Hugh makes it very clear right from the beginning that he is confrontational in style.  His critique of Christendom is well founded but will, as even he admits, rub many the wrong way.  If you let this get in the way of the book, you’ll be missing some real juicy stuff.

The one critique I have of the book is the lack of perspective on discipleship.  Hugh does little to let us in on how he is helping people follow in the the footsteps of Jesus in a smaller context.  But, many would rightly argue that just created an incarnational community as a church context is a great start.  My hope is that Hugh would address this in future books.  And let me be clear that this in no way a knock on the book.

The target of this book, which was published by The Leadership Network is clearly pastors. Hugh and Matt are talking about a model for churches.  But I would offer that those who are leading small groups or communities could learn just as much from the book.

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Churches have simply got to stop trying new ways to teach people to give them money and pretending its new.

I get several leadership emails during the month.  And I just got one that discusses the conflict of giving in a culture that avoids fund raising.  And to be fair, this isn’t about that email.  It’s about the general idea of trying new ways to teach people to do the old thing.

There is a new dialog about tithing called, “Giving Generously.”  I get that. In fact there are professional seminars, workshops you can buy, classes you can order from those professionals, and even videos that supposedly teach people how to give generously.  But there is one fatal flaw to this framework.  The subtle presupposition is that we’re giving generously to the church (ie. building/pros).  And I’m not saying that these things can’t be supported.  I can’t imagine what would happen if every church walked away from its building…well yes I can, but that’s another story.

If giving generously leads me to the same option of giving a check on Sunday…then it’s the same thing, even if it’s with a different heart.  I would suggest that it is not the heart that needs to change but the process all together.

Giving generously, to work, has to be led by the Spirit.  Giving becomes something we do in the moment, not one day a week.  It has to be keyed in to what God is already doing, otherwise it becomes lost in the void.  It’s detached from any present mission other than facilitating what the leadership is doing.  And the current situation assumes and even asks churches to give collectively so that pastors can give in directed fashion.  I get that too.  But does it rob people of a huge avenue of stepping into trust?  Does it keep them detached from following the leading of the Holy Spirit?  And it is this leading and following that is deeply missing from spiritual formation.

To follow the Spirit’s leading will likely call me to give more than I am comfortable with.  Not because there is a 10% number or there is a right number.  The purpose of this stretching is to develop trust.  And like God establishes in Jubilee, its all His anyways.  He just wants to make sure we know that.  And it stepping into that, we release our protective mechanisms, our “jealous lovers” as Bono would say.  We’re letting go of what we are possessed by.

I just heard a story about a woman who gave her car to a homeless woman because she felt God called her to do it.  And when asked why, she said, “It felt rich.”  That is awesome because it reveals so much.  In the giving, in the letting go of our stuff we open the space for the Holy Spirit to enter and transform, to redeem and shape in ways we can’t even imagine.  That’s what I want.

If the only message people are hearing (and its not the only message) is to give generously…to the church, then its the old thing with a new wrapper.

PS: Please don’t assume that I’m speaking about your church or any church in general.  If your church doesn’t do this, then cool.

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Thanks to KingdomGrace for doing this.  This is awesome.  Three things that stick out to me from this list.

1. It’s God’s mission.  I’m just a participant (or an observer).  Take your pick.

2. It’s about the restoration of all things.

3.It’s not (really) a marketing tool, new packaging or new spin on the old way of doing things.

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Sound Bites

The church emerges out of the mission of God in the world, not the other way around.  Actual mission must precede any new cultural understandings that the church might develop of itself.  –  Alan Hirsch

adding the label “missional” to their meetings and programs does not make them missional.  –  Alan Knox

It is often dumbed down by people who confuse it with “evangelistic” or “mission-minded”  –  Andrew Jones

finding those wells that still exist in our lives today…Places where people naturally gather…A place to share my life with them.  –  Barb Peters

So the word “missional” just becomes one more marketing tool in our attractional toolbox to get people to the show.  –  Bill Kinnon

a lifetime’s engagement with the communities where we have been strategically placed  –  Bill Kinnon

We need to be converted away from an internally focused, Constantinean mode of church and converted towards an externally focused, missional-incarnational movement that is a true reflection of the missionary God we follow. –Brad Brisco

there is no “40 days of missional” model  –  Brad Grinnen

sustainable change requires transformation at the deepest level in order to effect long-term changes at the surface level.  –  Brad Sargent

the church will be organized around mission as its sole purpose.  –  Br.Maynard

Drawing others into the deeply relational and loving arms of Jesus –Chad Brooks

It’s a scary world for the experts when the amateurs are out in front.  –
Chris Wignall

neither church nor human is the author of mission.  –  Cobus van Wyngaard

The essence of God’s mission is extravagant love  –  Dave DeVries

Jesus left the comfort of church err… heaven, and went to where people were at – David Best

(incarnational) rhythm contradicts the rhythm of an attractional church.  –  David Fitch

a way to be involved in God’s work toward the redemption of ALL THINGS.  –  David Wierzbicki

to reflect God’s character and God’s priorities in our everyday life  –  Doug Jones

the call of the church to love our neighbours, to make disciples, to be broken and poured out for others.  –  Duncan McFadzean

I hope that those of us seeking to imitate an incarnate God really understand that that means following a crucified One.  –  Erika Haub

engaging the world as living alternatives.  –  Jamie Arpin-Ricci

seeing life, ministry and mission interwoven together.  –  Jeff McQuilkin

following the lead of the Holy Spirit into restoring the world around us.  –  Jonathan Brink

little wonder then that so many who really get what missional is all about are labeled heretics.  –  JR Rozko

“you don’t even know, like really know, a poor person, do you?”
Kathy Escobar

our participation in the joyful, ecstatic, overflowing fruitfulness of God.  –
Len Hjalmarson

get out there to be the church  –  Makeesha Fisher

did we sacrifice reaching out for a new sound system?  –  Malcolm Lanham

like spending a day at the office with God… every day!  –  Mark Berry

learning to dwell in the margins or risky areas  –  Mark Petersen

a radical departure from a focus on ourselves or on our own church...noticeably different from churches building their own kingdoms…  –  Michael Crane

an awareness of the great desire of God from the beginning.  –  Nick Loyd

the missionary of God to us now, to all of us…is the Spirit.  –  Patrick Oden

God’s mission – search and rescue – is participatory.  –  Peggy Brown

redemptive interaction with people.  –  Phil Wyman

a church that is not missional is no church at all. It’s a club for the already initiated.  –  Richard Pool

Believers need to see their life holistically and completely sacred before they can begin to grasp what it means to be missional.  –  Rick Meigs

to be all that the Holy Spirit desires as he shapes and forms Christ in us.  –
Rob Robinson

every living moment is a door into God into which the other is welcome.  –
Ron Cole

They focus on what’s outside themselves and spend their time and money there.  –  Scott Marshall

giving hope in a world of gray.  –  Sonya Andrews

not simply “what the Church does”, but chiefly “what she is”.   –  Steve Hayes

signing on to God’s project to repair the World  –  Tim Thompson

How missional is put into practice is the stumbling block for many in the “missional” conversation.  –  Thom Turner

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Erin started it…but not really. She just said what millions of people where already feeling.

Gary, Barb, Jim, Alan, Jeff added their two cents. Then Glenn told a few people and when all was said and done the idea spread like wildfire. The cat was out of the bag.

Where can we find truly authentic community? Is there a place for those who feel disconnected from traditional church but long to discover an emerging expression of being the church?

I know this feeling first hand as well. Six years ago a group of twelve of us decided to take a journey together. We sat around the room asking what would it mean to really follow Jesus. To be honest we were scared. But what took us past our fear was our sincere desire to find something real. We were sick of the Bible studies. We were tired of the wrote answers we had all been given…that didn’t seem to produce life. We were dumb enough to actually believe that God would show up in our midst, if we trusted.

Within months, we knew that we had been led to something special. I say led because only the combination of people could have put all the pieces together required for the journey. It required a joint effort that could only have been assembled by the work of the Spirit. One guy brought a protocol for operating. One guy brought teachings. One guy brought the focus of trust and love. One guy brought the intensity. It was the perfect storm and we were riding its waves. We had discovered communitas.

About three years ago, God allowed me to focus on developing this full time. And to be totally honest, it took me about two years to get out of the way of what God was trying to do through me. The more I surrendered to what He was doing, the more success we encountered, the more love seemed to show up.

And then I began to hear stories like Erin’s, and Gary’s, and Barb’s, and 12 million others. Authors wrote books about this growing trend. Organizations were started to address it. People criticized it. But we couldn’t push away the growing realization that our hearts seemed to resonate with it.

And I realized that God is doing something in our midst. The question is then do we want to participate? Do we want to take the risk to restore our own hearts, to release the baggage that cripples the best of us? Do we want to discover what God has known all a long, that we really are worth it in His eyes?

About six months ago God took us in a different direction. He revealed that what we were doing was not meant just for us, but for His followers. And so Tribe was born. Tribe doesn’t begin with church. It begins with participating in His mission, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus within a tribe. Tribe is about participating in love and trust? It’s about participating in restoration, redemption, reconciliation and repentance. It’s about finding a wholistic understanding of the journey.

Over the last couple of months a group of six of us have been working on what that looks like and how it will work. Our desire is to create an organization that is bent towards supporting those who are looking for an emerging expression of being the church. I say this as encouragement. Out there…there is someone working to create the mechanisms and platforms for you to discover His mission and restoration, to discover your tribe.

Know that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. But ask if you really want to take the risk to discover that?

More to come…

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Len hits a grand slam on the roots of mission. This is a must read for anyone interested in missional conversations and discipleship.

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Absolutely one of the most stunning social metric sites I’ve seen. You can see the TED video of it here.

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Len from Next Reformation shares an issue of Friends Quarterly. It includes thoughts on the priesthood of all believers and nurturing the gifts within a body of believers. Awesome stuff.

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Tim Keller shares Reasons For God at Google. (ht)

Barack Obama on the role of faith in politics for Sojourners. Very interesting. (ht)

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If you would like to participate in this months Missional Synchroblog, let me know below. This months question is: Why Am I Missional?

Feel free to explore this question in your own way. One of the things I loved about the previous responses was the diversity. There is no right answer…just the real answer.

Updated Posting Date: May 19th

This is a four month project. You are welcome to participate as you can. The first round of posts was awesome. You can see the list here.

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Alan Roxburgh has an interesting article on “What Is Missional Church?” I appreciate his thoughts on the subject because it brings up so many more questions than it answers, which is a good thing. Questions drive us to so many good conversations that hopefully lead us to exploring what God is already doing in the world. And hopefully we can partner with him.

But as I read his article, it got me focused on one question. Why does God call us into mission? What’s the point? At the basis of this conversation is the assumption that God is restoring His creation. I’ve outlined here that God is primarily restoring four relationships in the world by bringing people out of oppression and into His kingdom of love and trust.

Jesus released us to mission in his final words when He said,

Matthew 28:19 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

And much of the confusion then becomes what do we do when we go. We’re in, we’re pumped and we’re ready to go. Then the question becomes what do we do at that point. Sarah Jane Walker followed Alan in asking this question. I would offer that at that moment, the moment we begin to participate is when we learn to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who is already in mission. So listening becomes central. And when we meet the Holy Spirit in the places she’s already working, the purpose is to reveal the Imago Dei, or love.

And I would suggest that God calls us into mission so we can reveal love. It is always love that draws us into the arms of the Father, into relationship. I appreciated Alan’s intro on this. It was love that truly drew him in. Love is so profoundly unhuman, so unlike us, that we realize the presence of something divine. We recognize what we were looking for all a long.

And when we give love we’re revealing Jesus all over again. We’re revealing the Imago Dei, showing the world what God really is like. We’re bringing the sweet aroma that captures the soul.

And when we give love we’re also receiving love because love is the fullest expression of who we were designed to be. We get to see God at work. We become Jesus in the moment. It’s a win-win for everyone.

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