Terry Virgo – ‘apostolic’ versus ‘missional’

I thought this was an interesting short video – Terry Virgo talking about the difference between being ‘apostolic’ and ‘missional’ – and about misconceptions of what it means to be an Apostle in the contemporary church.

From Jubilee Church on Vimeo.

HT: Adrian Warnock

Missional cart before the horse…

What is the right motivation for planting a church?  Neil Cole considers this very question in a recent post on his Cole-Slaw blog:

….we must get back to seeing church as a fruit of evangelism not the other way around. The Bible never commanded us to plant a church or even instructed us in church planting. The gospel (the good news of the intimate reality, redemption and rule of Jesus daily) is the seed we plant, not a church. If we sow the gospel much, we will reap many more disciples and a whole lot more churches will be started as well.

Of course we must also shift to a more holistic understanding of the gospel and the kingdom of God than we have had. Simply throwing out a lot of tracts or shouting at people on a megaphone is not likely to reap spiritual disciples or churches. Jesus brought the kingdom with him to the people who needed it most in a very incarnational and transformational manner. That is what He instructed us to be about.

Stop planting churches, start planting Jesus. Don’t build churches, that is not your job or mine. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” What He told us to do is to “Preach the gospel,” and make disciples (or followers) of Jesus. To risk being cliche: the horse must come before the cart. The seed must come before the tree, and the fruit will follow. Plant Jesus, and let him start the churches. Frankly, He is better at it than we are anyway.

Read the full article here.

The shrinking 40% ‘audience’ of attractional church

Tim Stevens posted an interesting article on his LeadingSmart.com blog about the shrinking number of people in the US who are attracted by the “come to us” type church model:

The Shrinking 40% – these are people for whom the “come to us” model works. We can put on great weekend services, and 40% of the people in our community are still attracted to, or at least not repelled by, that model. For some communities on the left or right coast—this may actually be 20% or less. Hirsch believes it might be 35% for America overall. For our church in northern Indiana, we are still relatively insulated from the coastal influence—and we believe it could be around 40%. Whether the correct number is 40% or 50% or higher—there probably isn’t a place in America where this number isn’t shrinking.
The Growing 60% – these are people who believe in God (whatever that means for them), have a respect for Jesus, and are on a spiritual journey, but they don’t consider the church (as we know it) as a resource to help them take steps. And it is likely they never will. They pursue their spirituality through culture, friendships, music, TV personalities, their own study of the Bible, self-help books and more. Research indicates “young adults today are less church-connected than prior generations were when they were in their 20s. But…they’re just about as spiritual as their parents and grandparents were at those ages.” An even newer study published a couple weeks ago indicates if the current trends continue, “the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,” this according to Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group’s survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they’re “really more spiritual than religious.”

This is even more obvious in the UK.  I don’t know what the statistics over here would be or how they would stack up against the US figures – but I would say we are way past the point where people are attracted in large numbers by the “come to us” type church model.

And yet we continue to push “come to us” as the only real alternative……

Read the full article by Tim Stevens here.

Small churches are the next big thing…

Good article posted on the Out of Ur blog ealier today by Brandon O’Brien:

In a conversation last week about the virtues of small churches, a pastor friend of mine, Chuck Warnock, quoted a passage from John Zogby’s 2008 book The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House). Zogby prophesies that “The church of the future will be a bungalow on Main Street, not a megastructure in a sea of parking spaces. It’s intimacy of experience that people long for, not production values.”

But, as always, its not as simple as that.  However, the conclusions that O’Brien comes to are interesting.

Read the full article here.

Seven Habits of Highly Evangelistic Christians

I say this on Jeremy Berg’s ‘Daily Illuminations’ blog here (referencing Kevin DeYoung’s blog here) – and thought it was worth repeating 🙂

Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway, argues that the secret to being an evangelistic church “is really no secret at all. Ultimately evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians.”

And what characterizes these highly evangelistic Christians? Read on (bold type added for clarity).

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.

How are you doing? I know I have work to do – how about you?

Missional misfire or missional challenge?

It seems that Kevin DeYoung is not taken with Reggie McNeal’s recent book Missional Renaissance, and his three part review of the book last week is starting to cause a stir in the missional community.

To start off with, have a read of the introductory exerpt from McNeal’s book here and read a couple of favourable reviews here and here – just to give you a flavour of what it’s all about.

Then read DeYoung’s review and comments, Part 1, Part 2, Part 2 Addendum and Part 3.

Then read Bill Kinnon’s reaction here.

I know it’s a lot of reading – but all good stuff that will get you thinking about missional issues.

Personally, I think the whole missional, organic, emergent thingy going on at the moment is brilliant, because it’s making the established church rethink its praxis.  However, the reaction of some is to hold on tighter to what they’ve already got rather than to take the opportunity to critically question how to make things better!

The result is heated discussions which seem to polarise the situation – and we the readers are then asked to choose – established, traditional church or missional, organic church – the impression is that there is no half way house, that it is one or the other, that they are mutually exclusive and cannot thrive together.

Well, I refuse to choose – sorry!  Why can’t we have both – the traditional church revived by organic, missional and emergent expression?

In this instant I feel justified in nailing my colours firmly to the fence – because I think this is where the church needs to be!  Seriously.

I’m going to keep an eye on developments in the blogosphere over the next few days – it will be interesting to see who else wades into the discussion.

Any thoughts after all that?

Ed Stetzer on Making Disciples

Below is the first part of a sermon on ‘Making Disciples’ given by Ed Stetzer at the Verge 2010 Missional Community Conference.

I think it is very challenging and well worth watching:

Here are a few quotes from Ed’s sermon that need to be taken seriously:
“I am sick of knowledgable, religious people not living on mission and then criticising those who are”

“a knowledge base needs to lead to an action life”

“any system that disempowers or demotivates the people of God is unhelpful and perhaps sinful….because it destroys the common good”

“something is wrong when an on mission serving Christian is unusual”

“when we (leaders) do for people what God has called them to do, then everybody gets hurt and the mission of God gets hindered”

“disciples do, they don’t just learn.  They do what they learn.  They don’t just listen, they do what they hear”

“there is so much dead weight (in the church) because we have taught them (the congregation) to know and not do”

“you cannot disciple people with books, you disciples them life on life”

“obedience based discipleship lead to mission shaped disciples”

“if we agree that everyone is gifted….then why are half the people in your church doing nothing”

“it has become normal for huge parts of the body to be dead weight rather than mission shaped disciples……we have made it acceptable to sit in church week after week and do nothing and call yourself a follower of Jesus, and in doing so we have hindered the mission of God”
This is all challenging stuff.  We need to listen to people like Ed Stetzer because we have a lot to learn about mission in our contemporary culture from faithful servants like him.

You can hear the second half of his sermon here.