Tag: Missional

Is Jesus the Only Way to God? (Pt 1)

This is the perennial question of our generation: “Is Jesus the only way to God?” Some ask it with disdain: How could anyone assert that Jesus is the only way to God? Others ask it with genuine sense of doubt. Is Jesus the only way to God? Only in books do we find this question asked and addressed so explicitly. So while the question may mark our generation, we are loathe to discuss the answer. Why is this question so besetting for our generation? Over the next few posts, I will address this question with honesty and sincerity.

Answering the Question Socially

If the question is: “Yes, Jesus is the only way to God” a line is drawn where we would rather things remain fuzzy. Why would we prefer this particular claim to remain fuzzy? In many cities there are an array of religious beliefs: Mysticism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, to name a few. The presence of so many different religions in cities leads many people (Christians included) to the conclusion that all religious paths lead to God. Why? When we meet people from various religions who are kind and sincere because of their religious beliefs, it seems arrogant to insist they are wrong. After all, their religion appears to have made them very likable, respectable people. I, for one, have met many people I would consider more generous and sacrificial than some Christians I know.

We make a theological decision based on social experience.

When people of other faiths rival Christian character, we face a tendency to affirm all religions as valid ways to God. We make a theological decision based on social experience. Rather than investigate the answer to one of the most important questions, we prefer to glaze the question with inch-deep reflections upon the character of people we meet. Understandable but not wise.

What if our generation became known for not only posing great questions but also grappling deeply and sincerely with their answers? Many Christians claim that belief in Jesus is the only way to God. Others insist there are many ways to God. In the next post, I will explore why some people insist there are many paths to God.

For more resources on this topic see:


Diary of a Church Planter (Pt 5)

This series is taken from my personal diary during the first couple of years of church planting. The entries range from painfully raw to joyfully visionary. I hope they bring encouragement to anyone who reads them, especially church planters.




Austin, Texas                                                                                     February 11, 2008

Robie had surgery this week to remove a parasitical tumor, which had the possibility of being cancer. It wasn’t cancer and the surgery went very well! I am not grateful enough, though I am incredibly grateful to God and to science and to Dr. Garza.

This is my last week working for bowling.com. The demands of ACL are bearing down, especially fund-raising. God would you raise the money for salaries, costs, and especially rent at the Draft House?

Transitioning to Missional Church (Pt 1)

Missional Church has been quite the buzz in the evangelical church world. As with any buzz, it has a polarizing effect. People often adopt or reject the concept before they have properly understood it. This creates a bandwagon effect, uncritical early adopters who adopt an idea, jump on the bandwagon, without depth of understanding of what they have committed themselves to. Alternatively, there are the hypercritical naysayers, who naysay missional church as a fading fad. Ironically, the hypercritical naysayers commit the same error as the uncritical early adopters. Both responses fail to adequately investigate just what “missional church” is. This three part series will address the dangers in transitioning to missional church, either as a new church plant or an existing church.

Clarifying Missional Church

The missional church is not a church with a mission. All churches have a mission. Stated or unstated, all churches practice some kind of mission. It may be keep to the immoral out, to keep sound doctrine in, to pray for revival, or to send missionaries to the nations. Each of these churches is an example of church with a mission. The missional church, however is church as mission. In the words of Darrell Guder, the challenge “is to move from a church with mission to a missional church.”[1]
In light of this important distinction, it is critical that transitioning churches understand the difference between church with a mission versus church as mission. To clarify the difference, consider the following chart:

Church WITH a Mission                                                Church AS a Mission

What You Do         (Task) Who You Are       (Identity)
Optional                  (Elective) Essential               (Core)
Extraordinary       (Elitist) Ordinary               (Everyone)
Project Focus        (Event) People Focus       (Disciple)

Traditional churches view the church as a church with a mission, at best. This mission may be sending missionaries to the nations, transforming the church neighborhood, or guarding and promoting sound doctrine. While all worthy missions, these are all examples of church with a mission. They focus on a task to be performed not and identity of the church. As a result, the mission of the church becomes optional not essential, creating a first and second tier Christianity comprised of ordinary and extraordinary Christians who do mission. At best, this accomplishes some mission but often remains very project focused not disciple-making driven.

What then is a missional church? Guder writes: “With the term missional we emphasize the essential vocation and nature of the church as God’s called and sent people.”[2] Missional churches are missional in nature and vocation. Missional is who they are, and as a result, mission is what they do. It is not simply a both/and. If mission as nature does not precede mission as vocation, mission-as-identity before mission-as-task, then churches that attempt to become or transition into missional church will either fail or fall into syncretistic missional ecclesiology. A depth of understanding that mission is what we are before it is what we do will be absolutely essential to planting or transitioning a missional church.

This post is adapted from my recent talk Why Missional Church Doesn’t Have a Shelf Life

[1] Darrell Guder ed., The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, 6. This was a landmark book for the missional church movement in North America. Many missional leaders and organizations can trace their roots to Guder’s seminal influence on American ecclesiology.

[2] Guder, The Missional Church, 11.

Non-Christians in Christian Community? (Pt 1)

This is a guest post from Nate Navarro, Director of Missional Community at Austin City Life and Co-Director at Music For The City.

The second time I ever met my friend Jonathan Dodson it was at Austin Java over a good cup of coffee. He was telling me that he was starting a church where Christians and Non-Christians would be in community together and would work together for the good of the city.

I was intrigued to say the least. Here’s a story to show how this vision can unfold…

Dylan is cool. He is good looking, has the right tattoos, and has the attention of the ladies. He is a fast living Austinite who waits tables for a living.

Dylan was raised  in Dallas and tells stories of growing up in a church where he felt left out, judged, and unloved. As soon as he graduated high school he packed his bags and moved to Austin.

I met Dylan a year ago on a Sunday afternoon and invited him into the house for a beer and to watch some football. He stayed all day long and kept coming back every Sunday night for dinner. On Sunday nights we open our home for dinner. Folks bring their own beverages, and a different person every week cooks up a meal. Some nights there are 10 people, sometimes 20, once we had 35.

After about a month he started asking who all these people were that came over for dinner on Sunday nights,  and “when can I come to this church everyone is talking about?”

What he didn’t realize is that he had been visiting the church, every Sunday night for a month, in our home.

Now it looked more like a chaotic dinner party with lots of food, loud kids running around, and a few empty beer bottles. In reality it was a group of very imperfect Christians, living life together, on mission to love Austin. Soon after that my friend Dylan began to drop in on our Sunday morning gatherings. He occasionally meets me for lunch, and serves alongside me at the nursing home in our neighborhood.

Last month I shared the Gospel with Dylan over a turkey sandwich. We have been friends for more than a year.

I told him that although we are all more broken than we dare admit, in Christ we are more accepted than we could ever imagine. I pleaded with him to see that Jesus offered him perfect love that one night stands could not.

Dylan is skeptical.

My best guess is that he loves our community but does not yet love Jesus. I pray that he will see through the inconsistencies in my life, and in the life of our church, and see how good and perfect Jesus is. I am thrilled to be part of a Christian community where people like Dylan, who struggle to believe, feel welcome, loved, and respected.

And for those reading this and looking for a practical application:

Stop inviting people to your church and start inviting them into your life.

To Be Continued……..