Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bolger on "Marks of a Missional Church"

I've spoken of Fuller missiologist Ryan Bolger in previous posts. He recently posted something interesting on his blog that I am copying below. He addresses the marks of a missional church. This post will be of interest to those churches who think they are already in some sense missional, and to those wondering what that might entail.

Marks of a Missional Church

Eddie Gibbs and I were interviewed (on video) for an upcoming workshop "Living Missionally" in Ventura, CA on January 21, hosted by Reggie McNeal. Here are the prep questions that were asked (and a partial summary of my answers):

1. What are the marks of churches (people) who live missionally?
They no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with those outside the community. Connecting with those outside happens within the culture, by insiders to that culture who express the gospel through how they live.

2. What is it that keeps a church (people) from thinking missionally?
We have been raised with the idea that much of our life and our responsibilities as Christians are reflected in the weekly church service. It is how we think as Christians in Western cultures where 'going to church' has been an essential part of being a Western citizen. Our context has changed, Christendom is crumbling, but the shift to missional living is a huge shift for Western Christians. It might take the Western church fifty to a hundred years to make the shift, and many won't make the journey. In contrast, those Christians outside the west, who have never lived within 'Christendom', do not think of the church service as the connecting point. They have no illusions that those they are serving would be remotely interested in a church service. Instead, they embody the gospel through serving, both in deeds and words. This is a big, big, shift, and it scares a lot of people.

3. When people (church) suddenly "get it", what does that mean? ... and what do you think brings the revelation?
Christian leaders are burned out. They spend an inordinate amount of hours just keeping the machine running, both in mainline and seeker/purpose driven/gen-x churches. They know no other way to do ministry, and if running the machine isn't it, then what is? When these Christians discover a more organic way of serving God, of emulating Jesus, it gives them hope. They do not need to leave the faith to find integrity or rest. Granted, this shakes up their world, and their future is anything but smooth. But they find a passion again, like a first love, and it sustains them for the tough road ahead...

4. What is/are the hardest obstacle(s) for people/church to overcome in order to being living missionally?
Early in the 21st century, the American church is trained to consume, to be recipients of ministry, to go to church to 'get needs met'. It is how we are formed in the culture, and the church does not train us to be any different. To be active, to be a producer in the faith community, to share the burden, are the birth pangs in the formation of a missional community. Facilitating this type of transformation is one of the most important tasks of leaders today...

5. What is/are the most exciting examples of a people/church who is/are living missionally?
In my book with Eddie Gibbs, I share many, many stories that reveal what missional living in the postmodern West looks like...I couldn't be more excited about these people or their journeys...

6. What was it that drew you into seeking what you found? ... what did you find?
Like many of the people I interviewed, I was on a journey. Was there a way that I could express my faith in my world that would have some integrity? That would look like Jesus? That wouldn't make Christians look unnecessarily weird? As I began to spend time with these leaders and these communities, I found hope. They were asking the same questions! They became my teachers -- and more importantly, my friends...

1 comment:

Call Me Ishmael said...

There is much here that is of great value.