Breaking the Missional Code – Book Study

Introduction

The churched population of North America is decreasing – this is due to a failure to understand and flex with the changing cultural atmosphere of your local culture/community. Emphasis on the fact that each area has a different community culture, therefore each area will need unique attention and effort invested in breaking it’s missional code.

Chapter One – The Emerging Glocal Context

An outline of the North American culture shift.  Pointedly, the shift from modern to postmodern, the shift from cultural to multicultural, the shift from widely churched to widely unchurched, the shift from predominantly Christian shaped to pluralistically shaped. Emphasis on cultural thinking (postmodern), ehtnicity, and location.

Challenge:

  1. Describe the specific people groups, population segments, and/or cultural environments that make up your geographical context. Native People – widely marginalized, shy (not very verbal), holds art & nature in high regard, a gentle people, approachable, accepting, kind, cultural religion including animalism and spirits of nature, sometimes discriminated against regarding alcoholism and laziness.  Low – Mid income families, often in shock or pain as aftermath to financial recession, mums typically stay home with kids, dad is often home too working odd jobs here and there, typically low self esteem, typically low community esteem, community of ‘party’ friends, usually life long friends – I’m speculating now…   Alternative lifestyle teens, divorced parents, step brothers and sisters, creative clothing style – somewhat nior inclined, independant music – folk alternative indie heavy etc., bad-ass often is cool, widely accepting of different cultures, typically cares to fight social injustice, typically doesn’t care for self or local maintainance.
  2. What are some practical ways you can begin to expose those you minister with to opportunities to break the code? The only way I can really think of is by talking about it and sharing my passionate to actually do what Jesus asked us to do. And also of course, lead by example.
  3. How would you define success when it comes to the Great Commission in your given context. I would say that; if the great commission has been and continues to be properly executed in a community, the product will be a multiplying community of believers who love each other, share a burden of love for the surrounding people without faith, and above all a steadfast adoration and passion for the Glory of God forever.

Chapter Two – Breaking The Missional Code

Interesting–Rick Warren surveyed his community as a preemptive missiology he found that people in his community said that 1) Church is boring, 2) Church people are unfriendly, 3) The church is more interested in money than it is in me 4) Childcare is questionable.  R.Warren sent out a letter to 20,000 in his community addressing these issues and inviting them to church on Sunday. D.Putman goes on to say that R.Warren’s process, not the letter is the key (p24). I think that this method can be adopted not only on a church planting basis but as a general church building tool to be utilized on a frequent basis. The emphasis is to know your community as a corporate whole and address there needs accordingly and appropriately.  Furthermore, R.Warren’s process should not just be carbon copied without thought, but rather considered and altered to better match you communities probable response.
Examine the way God is working in similar communities.
A reminder that just because an idea is new, doesn’t make it a good one. Your community may have the characteristics of other communities that are already thriving.  You can learn from them and use them as a model to avoid re-inventing the wheel.
Adjusting as you learn the context.
Community culture can ebb and flow, swinging in and out and even rapidly shift.  A missional church does not try to convert unbelievers to their culture, but to their faith, therefore, we must avoid allowing our church to embrace (with tenacious intent) it’s own culture of what has been called “churchianity”.  As my personal defense, I do not think it is wrong for a church to form its own culture.  Actually I think it is inevitable and biblical (John 13:35).  However, if we form an exclusive culture (like the one implied by the word “churchianity”, knowing only christianese language, music, history, disciplines etc.) then we become segregated pushing ourselves away from the lost rather than pursuing them with passionate diligence as Jesus describes in Luke 15.
Conclusion.

So breaking the missionary code is work, and is it best seen as a missions process.  A commitment to the integrity and authority of Scripture, combined with a passion for reaching the people to whom you are called, requires a commitment to prayerfully create a plan and strategy to reach your community.  New ways of thinking is the mandate–simply cloning other successful mdoels in unlikely to work.  In the next chapter, we will discuss several shifts that mist take place toward missional ministry in churches want to break the code.

Challenge:

  1. Describe the specific people that God has called you to reach. The youth of Campbell River and their close relations (eg. parents, siblings, carers).
  2. Identify other churches that are being used by God to reach similar people. I don’t know any yet, but I will find out.
  3. Write a brief paragraph on what your church would look like if it broke the code among that people. Scary!  Large groups of teens:
    1. loving each other and sacrificing selfish desires for each other and people in the wider community.
    2. desiring and pursuing a deeper and deeper relationship with God.  Investing devoted time in spiritual growth, working out their salvation as hands and feet of Christ.
    3. developing commitment in service
    4. Evangelizing too and disciplining other teens.
  4. Identify the adjustments you need to make to develope what you are learning. I don’t know yet, but I will find out!  I published my answer as a separate blog.

Chapter Three – Responding To The Commissions Of Jesus

Unfortunately, chapter three opened with a questionable quote. I have to make a note of it to keep myself in check and make sure I never maximize the power of human ambition and agenda, and minimize the power of the Holy Spirit and the mighty hand of God – 1 Cor 1:27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.
The quote was this: “My personal calling from God is to ministry focused on reaching non-beleivers to leterally go where the [non-beleivers] are and sometimes do what they do…. Now they come to our church.  They’re willing to be baptized; they’re willing to hear the gospel; they want to know more about Jesus Christ….That only happened through our positive relationships.  That’s the approach that we take.” Christopher Jun, Joyful Life Chruch, Seattle. Can you see the issues here…  I’ll point them out in magenta; “they want to know more about Jesus Christ….That only happened through our positive relationships.  That’s the approach that we take.” Uh-oh, I swear no one came to the Jesus unless the Father called them (John 6:44), because the sinful mind is hostile toward God right (Romans 8:7)? I’m not saying this to be an argumentative book critic–I would hate to be interpreted as just a squeaky wheel.  I am just putting the balance in place.  A positive and relevant approach is a very serious responsibility for the Christian (evangelical, missional). However our approach is ABSOLUTELY NOT the only way people come to Christ, and I think that point has to be made loud and clear especially to people who have a tendancy to be self glorifying rather than God glorifying and that’s all of us!
And while I’m at it, I might as well go and pick on one other thing I don’t like about this quote.Now they come to our church.  They’re willing to be baptized; they’re willing to hear the gospel; they want to know more about Jesus Christ“. Let’s just make sure we don’t lose focus here; our goal is NOT to get people to come to church, get people baptized, or even get people to think the gospel or Jesus are cool.  If that were our goal, all we would have to do is change church to make it more like events they already like going to, make baptism a commitment free event, turn the gospel into a short and simple message with concepts borrowed from pop culture, and make Jesus out to be a guy that everyone likes, like Santa Clause. Regardless of how much of that would be wrong, and how much is permissible, achieving attendance, and maintaining attention is not the goal but a means toward the goal.  The goal is that we might win as many for Christ as possible. Chris Jun doesn’t deny this however failure to recognize it can equally as bad as poor missional attitudes and structures. Remember, we are not a bunch of Spirit filled Conversion Fairies that go around sprinkling missional magic dust on people’s heads and praying a magic prayer and abracadabra, another saint is born.  Our primary focus is obedience, and through our obedience God’s message is proclaimed and he alone works on the heart of a man.  Truly, if we are obedient, we  will be missional by nature.
Of course after all that it is important to remember that no one is perfect.  If I were to only acknowledge worth in perfect books and teaching, I would have a very small library!  I just hope the the quoter and quotee are not too serious about the word choice.

We are sent. Not to remain behind closed doors, but rather go out and testify to peace (John 20:19-21).  Within our own doors is where things are comfortable, we do things the way we like them, we operate in our preferential liturgy. But that is not how it goes on mission.  We are often uncomfortable when on mission. Just like Jesus said “Just has the Father has sent me”, he was called out of a realm where he was comfortable and within his world of preference, but then incarnation meant leaving that world, so “now I am sending you” means we are going to inherit that same shift in comfort/preference. This is a very bad thing for the person who really likes the way things are for them inside their own realm of comfort. I (Ben) would suggest that you are to fond of it to begin with.  It might benefit your to become more attuned with Phil 1:21For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

The evangelical bubble. “We live in this evangelical subculture, this evangelical bubble, and we see all kinds of people just like us.  Sme call this the “herding effect”.  When you are running in the middle of a herd of buffolo, everything looks identical.  What we see becomes our reality.  We think that everyone around us knows where we are, and they can come to the church if they want to be like us.” I would say that this casts an excellent image of CRBC’s current status.  Although they see it in part (which is why we are reading this book), sadly I think it is much more urgent and embedded than the vast majority (including staff, elders and deacons) care to see. In my two weeks serving at CRBC part time, I can see that the Christian School is a big contributor to the evangelical bubble culture. I’m really not sure how to bring that up, the school is so engrained into the Church’s procedure that there seems to be more energy engaged in maintaining the culture within Church/School affairs than toward winning Campbell River to Christ.

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OKAY WAIT!  I’m doing it again, I’m putting so much energy and time into taking notes and actually reading it in the time it would take me to read it 20 times if I weren’t taking notes.  Time to pick up the pace.  I will be recording less notes from now on.

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