Thursday, April 17, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: The Missional Church Shift (ch. 4)

While many of us think there is a single way to do church (usually ours!), Stetzer marks a shift that has occurred over the last few decades in how churches are built and function. There has been a transition over the years from church growth (how can we get the most people possible in church) to church health (building healthy churches – these are today’s megachurches), and now the shift is to missional churches. There are several elements that Stetzer indicates are "positive shifts in thinking" that will be covered in the next post.

The missional church is a movement from who the church is to what the church is called to be, according to Stetzer. There’s a great chart that can help identify where your church may be. I can't figure out how to get the chart into the blog post so I'll list each phase of recent church models and you can find the corresponding issues among each option.

Church Growth: 1) Members as inviters, 2) Conversion/Baptism, 3) Strategic Planning, 4) Staff-Led, 5) Reaching Prospects, 6) Gathering, 7) Addition, 8) Uniformity, 9) Anthropocentric, 10) Great Commission.

Church Health: 1) Members as ministers, 2) Discipleship, 3) Development Programs, 4) Team Leadership, 5) Reaching Community, 6) Training, 7) Internal Group Multiplication, 8) Diversity, 9) Ecclesiocentric, 10) Great Commandment.

Missional Church: 1) Members as missionaries, 2) Missional living, 3) People Empowerment, 4) Personal Mission, 5) Transforming Community, 6) Releasing, 7) Church Planting Multiplication, 8) Mosaic, 9) Theocentric, 10) Missio Dei.

Stetzer gives a nice warning that the missional church should not tear down the previous models, but build upon them.

To be a missional we need to give up the “sin of preferences” by using the Missional Matrix that helps us keep our mission in line with God’s by taking into consideration Christology (who God is and what He does), Missiology (strategies to expand the kindgdom where we are), and Ecclesiology (how the church is expressed where God has sent us). Each of the other movements and those who Barna calls “Revolutionaries” go out of biblical bounds by emphasizing one of these three elements of Mission. The missional church strives to function in the midst of all three without an over-emphasis.

Easier said than done, I imagine, but worth striving for. Here’s his questions for discussion.

The Breaking the Code Challenge
1. Review the chart. Circle one area on each row that best describes your church.
2. Based on your evaluation, where does your church fall? How would your church fit on the Missional Matrix - an overemphasis on Christology, Ecclesiology, or Missiology?
3. What are some steps you can take to become more missional?

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