Posts Tagged ‘Missional’

Fostering a People-Development Agenda

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Yesterday I shared three major developments that Reggie McNeal believes must take place in order for the church to undergo a missional transformation.

The second shift in the three is to move from a program-driven agenda to a people-development agenda. This shift is necessary because the North American church has largely become a collection of programs run by staff and non-staff leaders and has lost its people-development calling.

Reggie believes the “rise of the program-driven church correlates directly with the rise of the service economy in post-World War II America. The manufacturing engine powering the economy yielded to the service sector as Americans could afford to pay other people to do things they no longer wanted to do themselves or couldn’t do themselves. People began to outsource food preparation, lawn maintenance, laundry, oil changes, and child care. And Americans outsourced spiritual formation to the church. It was during this period that the concept of church as a vendor of religious goods and services became entrenched in the ethos of the North American church culture.

“The demanding service expectation on the part of church families drove the church to proliferate its offerings in children’s and student ministries at first. This was followed by scores of other programs in an increasingly market-driven approach to capturing church members. The church growth movement of the last quarter of the twentieth century fed this frenzy as churches clamored for customers who could support the program expansion. The result was a resettling of the church population into congregations who have both paid attention to this program expectation and fed it as well.

“Church programming became increasingly complex as churches became more adept and more able to develop ministry options. The assumption grew that the church could provide the venues and opportunities for people to live out their entire spiritual journey as part of a church sponsored or church operated activity. This approach to Christian life has gone on now for so long that it seems natural and normal to North American church people.”

Because the program-driven agenda has become so deep-seated and expected, nurturing a people-development agenda and culture will require some important alteration in the way church leaders think and behave. In this video, Reggie talks about this second shift and how to foster it.

Reformed Church in America: One Thing: Reggie McNeal: What Are You Going To Do About It? from Phil Tanis on Vimeo.

Missional Transformation – Three Shifts

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I’m really keen on and deeply value the insights that Reggie McNeal brings to the missional conversation. For me, he gets to the heart of the change that must occur within the North American church.

Here he talks about the three major developments that need to take place in order for the church to undergo a missional transformation.

First, we must move from an internal to an external focus. The church does not exist for itself. When it thinks it does, we’ve created a church-centric world. Our perception of reality is skewed. By external focus of ministry I mean we radically reorient to understand that we exist primarily to do ministry beyond ourselves.

Second, we need to move from a program-driven agenda to a people-development agenda. Over time, the North American church has largely become a collection of programs run by staff or lay leaders. While we will certainly continue to have these programs, I believe a new, people-development agenda will base its sense of accomplishment on how well its people are doing, not its programs. If you start with people, the programs then serve the people, not the other way around.

The third shift is really a leadership response to the other two. It will require that leaders move from a maintenance or institutional model of leadership to a personal model—a ‘movement model’ of leadership. Leading a movement is very different from leading an organization.

If you have read his book, “Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church,” these are familiar themes. Themes that are at the core of missional transformation and, for this reason, need to be heard often.

And the key is his third point — leadership. If the process doesn’t start with a transformation of our model of leadership within the church, the first two shifts have little hope of taking place. Reggie spends 27 pages in Missional Renaissance covering this leadership shift, so if you want to explore it in depth you may want to pick up the book.

Moving Towards a Missional/Incarnational Approach

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Was invited to participate in a panel last night at a local good size suburban “bible” church that is exploring the missional concept. It was a very enjoyable time and I was excited to see the leadership of a church (and this influential church in particular) on the path of discovery and discernment.

The task of us on the panel was to explore and discuss two issues: 1) the difference between the attractional and missional approach to church and, 2) the complexity and difficulties of being missional in a suburban setting.

We got through issue one and into an issue two question of what particular obstacles do suburban churches experience as they attempt to move toward a missional ecclesiology. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have time to deal with the practical question of how might a church move increasingly towards this kind of missional/incarnational approach.

I would have really liked to get into this last practical question. So not to waste my notes and thoughts on the subject, here are the bullet points from my talking notes:

  • Leaders have to take seriously the Ephesians 4:11-12 mandate to be equippers and spiritual body builders.
  • Discipleship doesn’t equal information, but transformation.
  • The apprenticeship model in discipleship should be explored.
  • Openly and freely celebrate those who are living out the life you want to see replicated.
  • Become a story teller. Story is a powerful tool at illustrating and making the theme clear.

I’d love to hear any additional points you would have made.

On Thinning Ice

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I have a deep concern about this movement called missional. It appears that we are moving towards being not much more than books, conferences and conversation. Lots of talk, talk, talk.

Now I suspect I’m wrong on this point, at least I hope so. But if missional is more than just talk, where are the stories? Where are the tales of people living incarnationally in those communities where God has lead them to dwell? Why don’t we hear more from them? Why is story telling not an important part of our conferences and conversations?

I once read this about the power of story:

Story, as a pattern, is a powerful way of organizing and sharing individual experience and exploring and co-creating shared realities. It forms one of the underlying structures of reality, comprehensible and responsive to those who possess what we call narrative intelligence. Our psyches and cultures are filled with narrative fields of influence, or story fields, which shape the awareness and behavior of the individuals and collectives associated with them.

Note that story is a tool “which shape the awareness and behavior of the individuals and collectives associated with them.” We need this desperately within the missional movement. Without it we die.

I understand that many are reluctant to share the intimate and often confidential detail about their interaction with people. I don’t share certain stuff either, but it seems to me that general stories about community engagement could be told in such a way that it would honor the telling and encourage Jesus followers towards their own engagement.

So let’s start to tell more stories.

What’s the Difference?

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

This is a 2-minute video that attempts to provide a sense the change in perspective between our traditional view of church and missional church.

HT: Alan Hirsch

Beginning Assault on Missional?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Back on January 17th in 9Marks on Missional, I took Jonathan Leeman, Director of Communications for 9Marks, to task on his post, “Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small?

Since then there has been a number of others who have entered the fray including those listed below. Together they form a pretty good critic of Mr. Leeman’s scantily documented, poorly thought-out and generally uninformed article.

Leeman’s assault on the missional conversation should not be taken lightly, so I urge you to give each of these posts a read so you can become conversant with the arguments and rebuttals. Leeman may just be the opening shot of more to come.

9Marks on Missional

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Jonathan Leeman, Director of Communications for 9Marks, just wrote an article titled, “Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small?” In this article Jonathan challenges us to consider four reasons why he thinks the missional conversation is leading to an ill-conceived emphasis on social justice which is “but a first step toward a new liberalism.” Fair enough.

I was looking forward to an enlighten read, but that’s not what I found. The problem is that what Jonathan has written is poorly documented and appears to be a self-serving piece pushing a specific theological perspective which does little to enlighten us. His allegations are only supported by vague statements like:

“More and more evangelical and missional leaders have begun to characterize the gospel…as a ‘small gospel.’”

What leaders? Who are they and where did they say it?

“One recent nearly 600 page book on the mission of God contains only one index entry on hell.”

What is the title of this book? Was a discussion of hell relevant to the subject matter being covered by the book? Did a thought leader within the missional conversation even write the book?

“It’s almost as if non-Christians aren’t really lost, blind, enslaved, and dead in their sin. They’re just misguided or oppressed. They don’t need the Holy Spirit to create them anew;”

Where has any mainstream missional thought leader said such a thing? I don’t think you would find Ed Stetzer, Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Darrell Guder, or Lesslie Newbigin making such a statement.

Come on Jonathan, if you are going to pontificate, you have to document your points–which may be perfectly valid, but who can tell?

Added 01/22/2010: Some addition perspective on “A Growing Divide? 9 Marks and Missional.”

Added 01/25/2010: Also see, “Missing the Missional Mark.”

Added 01/26/2010: Also on the subject is, “You Might Not Be Missional….”

Added 01/27/2010: Others continue to post on the issue including, “The Missional Slope, or Should Have Linked to Kinnon.”

Added 01/29/2010: And, “Losing the Plot.”

Friend of Missional Update

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Here are the recent additions to the “What Others Are Saying About Missional” section at Friend of Missional.

Can Your Church Be Missional?

History of Missional Church

Syncretistic Missional Ecclesiology: The Failure of Missional Church

Tools for Missional Church

What is “Missional”?

The Missional Conversation Misused

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In many cases missional is misunderstood to be simply a new language to describe things church leaders have already been saying and the church has been doing for quite a while. This makes people suspicious of missional language, causing them to assume it’s just another trendy word. So even with clear and precise definitions, we are still seeing the missional conversation misused and turned into new language for existing forms of church. This can result in people investing lots of energy into missional models only to be disappointed not too far down the road because they have been taken on a path that holds little promise of joining with the Spirit who makes all things new. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 34.

A Missional Imagination

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

A missional imagination is not about the church; it’s not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying church around. It’s not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized…. This [missional] imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn towards our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing?’ it becomes, ‘What is God up to in this neighborhood?’ and “What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?’ This is what a missional imagination is about. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 20.