Saturday, December 19, 2009


Scot McKnight recently posted a brief review of a new book by Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren entitled Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Allelon Missional Series). He noted that the authors contend there are three central issues and questions and topics at the center of the missional theology of the Church:

First, understanding that the West is now the mission field.

Second, rethinking the gospel itself in terms of what God's dream is and what God is doing in this world instead of the gospel that satisfies my needs and meets my issues.

Third, recasting the church itself as sign, witness and foretaste of God's dream for this world. The church must become a contrast society if it is to become missional.

I (McKnight) would add a fourth: this is all home-brewed, that is, it all occurs in the crucible of the local. Missional people have to develop one major gift: the gift of listening to the culture and to the place -- in your specific neighborhood.

Perhaps one of the most important elements of this missional vision is the place that is given to the Spirit of God to reshape and reframe what the local church is.

Finally, this book then focuses on elements involved in shifting to a missional church:

1. Awareness
2. Understanding
3. Evaluation
4. Experimentation
5. Commitment

McKnight goes on to add that missional churches listen to their community and shape their ministry by what they hear from the community.

My comments: John Stott spoke of a similar idea when he spoke of learning to "exegete the culture." Too many inward-focused churches decide what they need to do for the community without even understanding the needs of the community. How does your church go about developing an awareness of those needs?

Friday, December 18, 2009


How do you measure a church's effectiveness?

A method often used by denominational execs and highly competitive pastors has been called Nickels and Noses How big was the offering and how many people showed up to worship? Church treasurers like the first measure and pastors get a lot of personal affirmation from the latter. Those numbers are a form of measure of effectiveness--the first can be used as a measure of the congregation's commitment to the church's vision. The second can be indicator of the extent to which the congregation is committed to an intentional time of worship.

But does the measurement end there? What happens if I am pastoring in a depressed area with a congregation whose members are out of work or unemployed? Is the amount in the plate a true indicator of the church's effectiveness? What happens if we are in church-saturated community or in a remote locale where there simply are not a lot of people? Is attendance (or the lack of increasing attendance numbers) a sign that the church is or is not doing the job God has called it to do?

A more important measure is faithfulness and fruitfulness. Are you faithful to the vision God has given you? (Do you even know what that vision is?) Are you efforts bearing fruit in transformed lives? (Or are you just maintaining the status quo in people who are spiritually "stuck."?)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Late in 2001 and early in 2002, the people of the Church of God of Landisville began to sense a fresh wind of the Spirit blowing in their midst. There is an excitement and a momentum in such a stirring that generates a vision and dreams about really being the Church of God rather than simply being a church.

During this time, my leadership had begun to explore these questions: "What does it mean to say that the church is led by the Holy Spirit?" "What would that church look like?" "What would it do?"

A clue to the answers to those general questions can be found in the apostle Paul's wondrous benediction,"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus ..." (Ephesians 3:20-21a).

Who among us would not pray for that to be the reality of the local church, especially those ministering in traditional churches whose flame seems to have been reduced to weak embers lying under a layer of ash form old fires that once burned brightly? What would we do if we sensed the Holy Spirit beginning to blow across those embers in an attempt to fan them into flame?

A whole lot of contemporary adjectives apply to this journey - organic, missional, reconciling, servant. This blog is dedicated to unwrapping the stories, the learnings, the dynamics of the journey from inward focus to outward focus--from being concerned with your congregation to focusing on the Kingdom. I invite you to connect with this blog, to offer your insights and experiences.