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Friday, August 20, 2004

Frost, M. and Hirsch, A. (2003) The Shape of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church  


The Gospel and Our Culture Network (GOCN) says, "The missional church represents God in the encounter between God and human culture. It exists not because of human goals or desires, but as a result of God's creating and saving work in the world. It is a visible manifestation of how the Good News of Jesus Christ is present in human life and transforms human culture to reflect more faithfully God's intentions for creation. It is a community that visibly and effectively participates in God's activity, just as Jesus indicated when he referred to it in metaphorical language as salt, yeast, and light in the world.”Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:38 am #

a missional church "seeks to discern God's specific missional vocation for the entire community and for all of its members." In other words, such a church makes its mission its priority and perpetually asks itself, 'What bas God called us to be and do in our current cultural context?" The issue of cultural context is essential because the missional church shapes itself to fit that context in order to transform it for the sake of the kingdom of God. By definition, the missional church is always outward looking, always changing (as culture continues to change), and always faithful to the Word of God. Pp7Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:38 am #

The church by its very nature has an indissoluble relationship to the surrounding cultural context. This relationship defines the practical nature of its mission. But the reason for mission comes from somewhere else. To say it more theologically, Christology determines missiology, and missiology determines ecclesiology. It is absolutely vital that the church gets the order right. Pp16Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:39 am #

As mentioned, the Christendom-mode church has these three flaws in its DNA - it is attractional, dualistic, and hierarchical. First, by attractional, we mean that the traditional church plants itself within a particular community, neighborhood, or locale and expects that people will come to it to meet God and find fellowship with others.… By anticipating that if they get their internal features right, people will flock to the services, the church betrays its belief in attractionalism. … If we get our seating, our parking, our children's program, our preaching, and our music right, they will come. This assumes that we have a place in our society and that people dodt join our churches because, though they want to be Christians, they're unhappy with the product. The missional church recognizes that it does not hold a place of honor in its host community and that its missional imperative compels it to move out from itself into that host community as salt and light.1/2Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:39 am #

2/2When we have consulted with churches that recognize the need to embrace a missionary stance in their communities, we are amazed at the number of times, when asked to discuss specific ways they can recalibrate themselves to become missional churches, they begin talking about how to change their Sunday service. It betrays their fundamental allegiance to being attractional. … The Come-To-Us stance taken by the attractional church is unbiblical. It's not found in the Gospels or the Epistles. Jesus, Paul, the disciples, the early church leaders all had a Go-To-Them mentality. (pp18-19)Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:40 am #

In his magnificent book on the church, Jurgen Moltmann identifies the principle that undergirds much of how we do church today as "birds of a feather flocking together." We believe this principle is inherent in the attractional mode of church. When the church is seen as a distinct category, completely separate from the world, it naturally develops an us-versus-them mentality. The missional church, with its incarnational approach, on the other hand, has built into its thinking a Go-ToThem stance. It sees itself, not as a closed system, but as an infiltrating community. Therefore it cannot tolerate the birds-of-a-feather principle. " 'Birds of a feather flock together.' But why? People who are like us, who think the same thoughts, who have the same things, and who want the same things confirm us. However, people who are different from us, that is, people whose thoughts, feelings and desires are different from ours, make us feel insecure." Moltmann 19781/2Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:41 am #

2/2If the church is simply a community of like-minded people, inviting other like-minded people to join them, then it will always be severely impeded. This sort of church, then, according to Moltmann, has no ego-strength, no self-confidence. It is a form of self-justification. 46Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:42 am #

When the British preachers evangelized the Zanaki people of what is now called Zimbabwe, they did so by quoting Revelation 3:20, ', Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." This verse and its use by the preachers is a very helpful case study in what is called poor contextualization, which is an inability to communicate the gospel in a form that makes sense within a particular context. Allow us to explain.1/3Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:43 am #

2/3In polite and proper British culture, when one visited someone else's home, the door would be closed and probably locked and the inhabitants would be privately and securely ensconced inside. Therefore you knocked loudly on the front door to gain entry. In Zanaki culture homes have no doors. To enter the home of a friend in your village, you would call out loudly at the doorway. In a small community your voice would be immediately recognized, and you would be invited to enter, The only people who knocked were thieves. They did not wish to be identified.Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:44 am #

3/3Having knocked surreptitiously, if the thieves heard stirring inside the house, they would sneak away. If you knew this about Zanaki culture when you came to preach Revelation 3:20, in which Jesus talks of himself both knocking and calling out, which would you emphasize? Because the British missionaries had no knowledge of Zanaki customs, they blithely preached that Jesus was knocking on the door. And by doing so they inadvertently made him out to be a sneaky thief. This is an example of noncontextualized Christian ministry.The message is still true-Jesus desires to have a relationship with you if you would only open your life to him. The context in which that truth was presented required a different use of metaphor and language for it to make sense.Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:45 am #

4/4We're not simply making a play for "relevant" preaching. We are advocating a total recalibration and a radical rethink about the symbols, language, metaphors, vernacular, and idioms we employ when presenting Christ to our world. The church can no longer make excuses for non-contextualized mission. In fact, the only worthwhile Christian ministry is culturally contextualized mission. It is truth ministry, but it is also understandable, believable, and accessible truth. (82)Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:45 am #

Horse WhispererMonty's story reminds us of the church. Even though he has discovered an effective way of listening to horses (his own term), the old Montana horsemen won't budge. They've been breaking horses their way for generations. Why should they change now? The church might say, we've been "breaking" sinners like them for generations. Leave them to us. But the old method of crushing the spirits of seekers who don't fit the conventional, stereotypical church testimony won't be effective any longer…an army of Oprah viewers are avoiding the church like the plague. It's time for us to develop a spirituality of engagement with not-yet-Christians. That will involve true listening and genuine presence.1/2Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:46 am #

2/2The traditional method of reaching not-yet-Christians has been to bludgeon them into a recognition of how broken they are. To crush their spirit. To tear them down and bring them to their knees… Instead of having such a combative, manipulative spirituality of engagement with others, we believe the church needs to recover a spirituality of engagement that whispers into the souls of not-yet-Christians. As Monty Roberts appeals to his wild mustangs' deepest longings, we need to develop an ear for listening to such longings in our friends and engaging them with respect, grace, and compassion. (98ff)Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:46 am #

We Are Our MessagesSoren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, called this "existence-communication,' by which he meant that our lives---our very existence-is our communication. Your existence as an authentic human being communicates more than what you say or even what you think …The only essential sermon one can listen to and appropriate comes not from the pulpit via the minister's words but from one's own existence.“Christianity is not a doctrine but an "existence comrnunication." Sontag F (1979)Gordon Email Homepage 08.26.04 - 7:47 am #
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Elton, B. (2003) High Society 


Jakubowski, M. and Christian, M. (eds) (2002) The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Road (Mammoth Book) 


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