Tag: Missional Church

4 Ways Church Planting Training Must Change

With missional ecclesiology in full swing, many of the current missional training structures are becoming outdated. If church planting networks and organizations are going to continue to stimulate deep, sustained mission to all kinds of peoples, then some our training structures will have to change.

1. We need to offer both information and experience-based training. Much of the church planting training today is based on theological and missional podcasts, talks, and breakouts. If we are to train a new generation of missional leaders that dive deeply into the 100s of American subcultures, training will have to be based in an experience of their missionfields. We need to offer training that sends church planters into their fields during their training. For instance:

  • Half a day is spent learning principles and half a day is spent in coffee shops and clubs getting to know the values, beliefs, and culture of hipsters
  • Half a day in a immigrant neighborhood knowing on doors, visiting ethnic restaurants, to learn values, beliefs, and objections to Christianity among ethnics groups
  • Half day spending time downtown among professionals, going to happy hour, and attending their power lunches to understand the demands, aspirations, and values of professional life.

2. We need to train planters on both traditional “core teams” and non-traditional missional teams. If we are to reach the increasingly divided people of America, we will need not just missional core teams that gather in living rooms to train, but missional teams that start workshops for the poor, new music venues among artists, new buisness ventures among professionals. Missional teams that create value, good will, and community around the felt and exisiting needs and working places of unreached peoples in the U.S. In some cases, it will be better to “launch” a business or venue before “launching a church.” For example:

  • Starting a workshop to train homeless in microfinance and job skills
  • Starting a music venue to engage musicians and artists
  • Starting a thinktank discussion group to address neighborhood issues

3. We need to equip planters to preach and to cultivate gospel-renewing environments. We need to think through how we not only launch services and small communities, but also how we sustain those people over a lifetime of suffering, adversity and change. This will require a depth of understanding in how the gospel addresses their whole human experience–family, vocation, stage of life. We will need gospel-shaped environments that foster personal and communal renewal over a lifetime not just over a meal or a meeting.

4. We need to cast vision for planters who plant not isolated churches but networked churches that partner for regional and urban renewal. Church planters need to mobilized to think beyond “their church” in order truly plant, multiply, and grow God’s church. If church plants are to effectively renew cities, they must think and plan well beyond their own borders. They will need to partner with other churches in order to effectively address the whole of city and region needs. Urban renewal will not happen one church at a time, but many churches working together at a time. Only then, collectively, can we leave an indelible gospel mark in history for the good of our cities.

Transitioning to Missional Church (Pt 2)

See Part 1 of the series Transitioning to Missional Church.

In Part 1 of this series, we established the difference between a church with a mission and church as mission. A Missional Church is church as mission not church with a mission. Missional is its nature not just its vocation.

Why Mission is the Nature of the Church

Why is missional the nature of the church? Because it is the nature God. Mission is not only an action of God; it is an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. That’s what the term Missio Dei means “the Sent God.” God has always been on a mission for his glory, that self-glorifying mission breaks out into creation, thru the fall, in redemption unto New Creation. In particular, we see the missionary nature of God in his sentness. Father sends the Son, Son sends the Spirit, Spirit sends the Church. The church is cut from the cloth of the missionary God. We have a family resemblance. We have a missionary nature because we have a missionary Father.

In other words, mission is the breath of the missional church. Mission is not a tack-on to your life; it is your life. You exhale mission because you inhale gospel. The gospel flows through you, pulsing at various strengths but pulsing, in order to pump the blood of Jesus through the body of Christ so that it can exhale the hope of mission. This missional breath affects everything—how we check the mail, how we structure our week, how we relate to neighbors, how we do our work, how we read the Bible, where we live, how we live, how we make your everyday decisions. Missional is radical, like taking up your cross and following Jesus. Missional church is a gathering of cross-bearing, Jesus-following disciples who are committed to his mission.

Missional church requires nothing less than a rethinking of our identity and our practice, of who we are and what we do. Therefore, in order to effectively embrace the challenge of moving from church with a mission to church as mission, new ecclesiastical structures are absolutely essential. The old church structures support mission as a task but not as an identity. They promote mission as an event but not as disciple-making, reducing mission to an option for the elite not essential for everyone.

Challenges in Transitioning to Missional

One of the greatest challenges in transitioning to a true missional church is syncretistic missional ecclesiology (SME). Syncretistic Missional Ecclesiology is the fusion of missional church values with institutional church structures. Many churches that attempt to make this transition, try to insert missional values into non-missional church structures. Leadership, decision-making, community structures all remain somewhat the same, while the leaders beat the drum of mission. At best, this will create more mission works but will fail to make missional disciples.

The nature of missional church requires more than cosmetic adjustments to our inherited forms of church. Missional ecclesiology requires an entirely new way of thinking about church, from the bottom up. Church plants and established churches have failed to recognize this important point. As a result, they have blended institutional church with missional church. This syncretism is both theologically and practically defective.

  • Institutional mission relies on preaching, teaching, and writing to implement missional ecclesiology. Missional Church relies not only on a Sunday ministry of Word, but promotes a rest of week ministry of the word that is carried out by a speaking-the-truth-in-love community.
  • Institutional mission adopts a program of mission during a set season of the year to implement missional ecclesiology. Missional Church does not see mission as a tack-on to your life; it is your life. You inhale gospel and exhale mission through ordinary rhythms of life.
  • Institutional mission sees mission as the responsibility of a select group of people not the whole church including staff. Missional Church requires pastors and staff to live a missional life making disciples and redeeming social ill. It equips ordinary people to do ordinary things with gospel intentionality.

4 Reasons I’m Excited about the GCM Conference!

Here are four reasons why I’m excited about the GCM Collective Conference, which is just two months away Oct 28-30!

(1) Practioner-tested Missional Community Training: There’s a lot of talk about missional communities but few are planting, multiplying, and leading missional communities with time tested results. Drawing on years of experience, many of the breakouts specialize in training people in missional community leadership. Whether you have missional communities or not, these breakouts will equip you to lead a more missionally effective church.

(2) Top Notch Theological Reflection on Mission: With the emergence of the Missional Church, do we truly know the state of mission in America? Who do we need to engage with the Gospel? How can we engage them effectively? Are there missional structures and approaches to discipleship that have proven effective? Ed Stetzer and Jeff Vanderstelt will address these issues from the stage, while breakouts push these insights through into everyday practice.

(3) The Collective Experience: The Collective experience has the power to equip and galvanize gospel movement well beyond the conference! It groups missional leaders together who share an affinity in their mission, i.e. megachurches, urban context, small church plants, house churches, suburban context, helping them to process GCM conference content through their similar challenges and experiences. This shared learning will encourage and strengthen people in their mission. Plus, an online community will be available for the shared learning to continue!

(4) The Centrality of the Gospel in Mission: The conference will not make best practice central to mission but our grasp and communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We will devote an entire plenary to clarifying what the Gospel is. In confusing times, this will help us clarify and clasp this remarkable good news we have been entrusted with.

Missional Living Talks

The Resurgence posted on my talks at the Missional Living Conference. Several people have contacted me about the broken or incorrect links there. I sent the corrections to Resurgence but also wanted to provided the correct ones here. Hope they are helpful!

  • The Gospel & American Christianity: This message deconstructs the dualism of American Christianity in order to reconstruct a whole Gospel around Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • Community in American Christianity: This message demonstrates the communal character of the Gospel, unpacking very practical ways to cultivate “steady state community.”
  • Everyday Mission in America: This message shows how mission is not optional but essential, spending considerable time on how to live “everyday life with gospel intentionality.”
  • How a Church Renews a City: This message shows how Gospel communities on mission is God’s design to renew cities.