Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Trying to Fit In

In this transition, we are trying to make the best of the opportunities we have for community. We bring ourselves to church every Sunday and focus on the things we appreciate and value there.

They are wonderful people who are excited about what God is doing around them. For our small town, this church of 500 and growing would be considered a megachurch. They have made an impact among the unchurched in our community.

This church has been so effective at bringing people in. I wish there was more of an emphasis on discipling them into living a kingdom life, rather then mentoring them into church service.

Oh well.

Today from Ryan Bolger in Marks of a Missional Church:

1. What are the marks of churches (people) who live missionally?
They no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with those outside the community. Connecting with those outside happens within the culture, by insiders to that culture who express the gospel through how they live.

2. What is it that keeps a church (people) from thinking missionally?
We have been raised with the idea that much of our life and our responsibilities as Christians are reflected in the weekly church service. It is how we think as Christians in Western cultures where 'going to church' has been an essential part of being a Western citizen. Our context has changed, Christendom is crumbling, but the shift to missional living is a huge shift for Western Christians. It might take the Western church fifty to a hundred years to make the shift, and many won't make the journey. In contrast, those Christians outside the west, who have never lived within 'Christendom', do not think of the church service as the connecting point. They have no illusions that those they are serving would be remotely interested in a church service. Instead, they embody the gospel through serving, both in deeds and words.

This is a big, big, shift, and it scares a lot of people.

And from Jordan Cooper's Smart Friends Interview :: Alan Hartung:

A couple of decades from now, when we look back at this time of new thoughts and emerging forms of church, what do you think our regrets will be? What do you think we are still getting wrong?
As far as what we're still getting wrong... I think the biggest mistake right now is the trend to deal more with theology than practical church structure. Too many people are just changing what they say and assigning different goals for their programs. "The medium is the message." If our structures show a top-down hierarchical leadership, as one example, it doesn't matter if we teach a different type of leadership. The structure tells people what you really believe about leadership. For me, by far, church structure is the most important issue in the emerging church today. Everything stems from how we relate to each other in our communities, and the relationship is highly dependent on the way we structure our local communities of faith.

In the meantime, I have plenty of work to do myself in learning to live missionally.


Call Me Ishmael said...

Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post. I wrestle with these questions from a somewhat different perspective at

Pam Hogeweide said...

Last spring/early summer I unplugged from all the church ministries I was involved with. Since that time I have thought about getting involved in a local community program, something, that wasnt' church based or even faith based. I felt a need to break out of my Christian cage. Eventually I heard about WRAP, Write Around Portland, a local non-profit that helps facilitate writer workshops for people who don't have access to them. Like prisoners, women in shelters, homeless teens, disable adults, HIV positive people, etc...Last night I went to my first training workshop. I sat with 15 other people whom I'll spend 27 hours in training with this month. Then I'll get matched to a group that I will facilitate a workshop for as a WRAP facilitator. I am hoping it will work out for me to do the workshop for teen parents and parents-to-be at one of the local alternative high schools. I love teenagers.

I am very excited about this volunteer opportunity.

For me, the whole idea of getting out of the walls of the church and being the church to my city is what is pounding inside of me. I don't mean to say that I am volunteering with a hidden agenda and as soon as I can I will start trying to proselytize people and covertly give them religious literature. No. Instead, I hope to meet tons of people and hear their stories and ask God to help me be a good listener, to be a good blesser and to discover the presence of Christ in my community. Maybe this will lead to something in the future, I don't know. The WRAP folks are very genereous saying that if people start their own writing groups apart from WRAP they are just happy that people are writing. For now, I will enjoy getting to know my training group.

I guess, though, I'm hoping to not only learn how to facilitate writing groups, but also how to be a missional follower of Jesus in my city.

Jan said...

I found your site through "Listening... and Calling." I resonate with your story and your interest in the emerging church. It's good to find another "friend" in blog world.


Bruce said...

I love the line from your pastor who says that all those currently volunteering will need to take on MORE! That really frustrates me. Look forward to "learning to live missionally" together. You are not alone.


Kelly said...

last may, my husband and i bought a house and made the decision to live in a poor, quite frightening, neighborhood of the inner city. our church community still relies on Sunday mornings as their barometer of how close they are or aren't to God, where we feel it each evening watching drug busts or hearing gun shots.

when i look around my congregation, i see all of the potential these individuals have, it's hard not to be continually frustrated and even reproachful. but i've learned, satan uses these tactics to divide us. and sometimes people need a little push to walk across that divide.

there is a fine line between rebel and reformer.

grace said...

thanks for stopping in. I look forward to reading more at your site. My husband likes your picture.

that sounds really great.

hi jan, it's nice to meet you.

bruce, I'm glad there are plenty of others trying to do this also.

kelly, I really like how you've been so intentional. I think the best plan for all of us is to become what we believe.