1. Calling from God
2. Exegeting the community
3. Examining ways God is working in similar communities
4. Finding God’s unique vision for your church
5. Adjusting that vision as you learn the context
A calling from God means we don’t uncritically rely on technique in our drive for “success,” which is a powerful voice in our culture. Successful mission starts with having God’s heart for the community where we find ourselves – and putting ourselves in the place that God has given us a heart for. Stetzer states, “So breaking the code begins with asking God, ‘Who have you called me to?’” (p. 23).
Rick Warren is held up as the premiere example of one who has exegeted his community in the planting of Saddleback Church, but many have made the mistake of duplicating Warren’s findings when they live in a different environment. Duplicate his process, not his findings.
While we shouldn’t duplicate others’ findings uncritically, there are plenty of cultural similarities throughout our country. It is wise to learn from these findings in similar communities, but to also contextualize and adjust as needed to one’s specific community. “Connect the dots” wherever possible.
Next, find God’s unique vision for your church and embrace it. The church community can withdraw from the larger community, but churches who have “broken the code” have found a way to “develop a unique vision for their church that both honors God and connects with their community” (p. 27).
Finally, we should adjust vision as we learn the context. This should be an ongoing process, even if your church is “successful.” Stetzer urges each church to ask: “Are we faithfully proclaiming the faith in the place in which we find ourselves today?” (p. 28).
As last chapter, Stetzer has some questions (better, assignments) to chew on:
1. Describe the specific people that God has called you to reach.
2. Identify other churches that are being used by God to reach similar people.
3. Write a brief paragraph on what your church would look like if it broke the code among that people.
4. Identify the adjustments you need to make in light of what you are learning.