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The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Monthly Archives: February 2011

  So today I am reading in Luke 16 where Jesus tells about Lazarus and the rich guy, and I stopped for a bit when I got to the part where the rich guy, who is burning up in Hades, makes his little appeal to “send someone back from the dead” to warn people about this nasty place. The conversation went like this:

Lk 16:29-31
“Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'”

So the rich guy was implying that even though he ignored Moses (the Law) and the Prophets, he would have changed his mind… if only God had raised someone from the dead. In other words, “It’s not all my fault! If God would have done more tricks to impress me, I would have put him on my calendar!”

It reminds of all the great ideas we come up with to bring people to God…when most of them, if we are honest, really don’t accomplish that. What many of our ideas DO accomplish:
  1. Get people to attend a church service;
  2. Get people to feel guilty enough to “serve” in the church;
  3. Get people to say the right thing instead of the true thing;
  4. Get people to think spirituality is about the quality of a show;
  5. Get people to focus on a certain leader or religious organization.
I notice that Jesus was highly resistant to “marketing” ideas. He seemed at times to even discourage people from following Him. Like when he told one guy He as was homeless, or another guy to sell all he owns first (so he would have less to put in the offering plate???), or telling another guy to let the “dead” bury his father.
The point is that if we had just heard the suggestion, “…if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!”, without knowing where it came from, many of us would agree with this strategy…we might even write a tract about it! But to Jesus, this was just another good idea from hell.
So let’s listen a little longer, and try to discern where our ministry ideas are coming from. 
Grace and Peace
Most of us who are involved in the discussion of “missional” church by now have realized that the term does not have a technical definition. I have heard it described as everything from a “missions-oriented” church, to a church with “flat leadership”, to “organic church”, to being somehow associated with “emergent” (whatever that means). Then there are the definitions that attach to the outward form, like house churches or groups no larger than 120. Who knows.

As for the current movement, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s 2003 book “The Shaping of Things to Come” gave defining it a pretty thorough shot. One of the attempts to illustrate it was on page 72:

It’s interesting that he doesn’t really use the term “missional” in the illustration, but “mission culture”. When I look at the chart, I see mostly characteristics that reflect a leadership culture rather than a philosophy of church. All of the items, like being “lay-centered”, “bi-vocational”, “apostolic”, “build leaders”, and “rapid reproduction”, are in my experience ultimately determined not by strategy, by by the culture of the core leadership.

I personally have been bothered by what seems to be an attempt to market countless different flavors of “church” by using the word “missional”…as if it somehow makes everything a church is doing relevant and “cool”. Are we (The Journey) a “missional community”? I guess I would leave that to others to decide. I see many of the factors in the chart above in our culture, and I know that they are intentional – but not because they are what someone called “missional”, rather because they are aligned with how Jesus began to build His Church. I think that’s a good enough reason to do them.