I would say that the #1 question that I get asked after describing the missional community model to someone has to do with how anyone could possibly have any time to live this way. This great video from Caesar explains that it is not about “additional but intentional.” If you watch far enough he goes into detail about the rhythms of our life and how we can make them more intentional.
In the video below, Dallas Willard talked about how the biggest danger to Christianity is the attitude that it is a statement of belief rather than a life of discipleship. I was particularly struck by his comments about pastors being accused of “bait and switch” when they try to do intentional discipleship. I have heard similar comments from those that are farther along in developing missional communities than we are at Tidelands. Longtime “church” people can struggle with the idea that they are being asked to be part of a group that is focused on following Jesus in all aspects of life. Sometimes our focus on church programs and sunday morning performance results in immature Christians that want to be “fed” rather than disciples capable of leading others in being disciples of Jesus.
Perhaps this is why I often get quizzical reactions from other Christians leaders when I talk about our missional communities. I have even fielded questions asking whether we are a “cult” or a “commune.” Why would a description of people living on mission in their neighborhood result in those kinds of labels? One possibility is that I am simply not being very articulate in describing what we are doing (I’m working on this). The other possibility is that a life of following Jesus as a disciple sounds foreign to them. If the latter is true, it begs the question: what kind of “Christian” doesn’t feel comfortable with discipleship? I believe this is the kind of thing that Dallas is addressing in this video. If discipleship sounds like a “switch” then what is being used as the “bait?” Certainly not the gospel of Jesus!
“Evangelism is not sharing certain facts about Jesus as if we have no obligation before or afterwards. But actually evangelism takes place in the context of a relationship – that is called discipleship – that can go a whole lifetime.” – Alan Hirsch
Great short video talking about evangelism and discipleship that makes it clear why this can’t simply be a program of the church or the job of church professionals.
One of the great features of the Internet is that we can have access to so many good teachers and they often do a much better job of articulating an idea than I ever could. In the video below David Platt talks about the difference between legalism and “radical” living (If you have not read his Radical book yet – it is worth the read). I’ve substituted the word “missional” for “radical” because it is basically working with the same idea and I’ve heard a criticism from some corners of the blogosphere that “missional church’ is is just a new form of legalism. I would agree that the temptation is always there, but to call missional living “legalistic” is missing the point entirely. Listen to David:
Here is a thought-provoking video about church programs. Of course, it easy for me to share since we are not yet a church that has a lot of programs. But I share this as someone who recognizes the tension being described in this discussion between wanting to maintain “space” for God’s work and wanting to be responsive and permissive to those seeking to respond to a need in the congregation/community.
I thought it was worth sharing this video again since I continue to receive a lot of questions about what it means to be a “missional church.” This video can be found on the “video” links on the right-hand side of my blog.
“So discipleship starts way before conversion. We’re proclaiming Jesus to make disciples and we’re living amongst them as people submitting to Christ’s rule and reign so they see what a disciple looks like.”
For whatever reason, I find the above statement to be very thought-provoking and profound. Without going into what I think about “conversion” and “election” and all of that, I have to admit that, in practice, I have not thought that I am making disciples even before someone is at a point of being willing to believe and be baptized. And if this is true, then how would it effect church ministry “programs?” Don’t we focus most (or all) of our disciple -making efforts on those that have already professed faith in Christ? And I appreciate the emphasis on the flip-side as well. Once someone does believe, we still have to preach the gospel at every opportunity.
I had this wonderful experience with a kid on my soccer team this week. He said, “Coach, what do you do for a job?” I answered, “I’m a pastor.” He gave me this funny look and said, “What’s that?” Keep in mind that this was in the middle of me trying to explain a drill to nine boys, most of whom were asking me questions at the same moment. I knew I didn’t have a chance to even begin to explain it to him right there, but it just confirmed to me that I was in the right place. It is exactly where I want to be and exactly the kind of conversations that I hope to build on in the future. I would love it if for the rest of his life, regardless of what happens, he thinks of a “pastor” as a person who cared about him on a rainy soccer field. My prayer is that he one day discovers that I was able to care for him because of the grace of Jesus in my life.
Here is an awesome video that connects in with this way of thinking about being “the church” and the role of “pastor.” I wish I could articulate it as well as Jeff does: