Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Club Friday: Church Unique, Chapters 3-4

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so go ahead and frame the discussion in the comments below. I hope to get some thoughts down this evening or tomorrow some time.


Josh Uht said...

Haven't read yet either. probably won't until after lunch. sorry

Justin said...

I just finished chapter 3 and, while I liked it, I began wondering near the end why this chapter was here (even though I found it quite interesting). It seemed like an odd history lesson. Thankfully he summarized. He wants to untie vision from the church growth movement (since missional is the dominant – or will soon be – paradigm). I’m actually grateful for that insight. I remember wondering what the big deal with vision was when some of our leaders were talking about it. I thought, “We have the purposes, let’s just do them and we’ll be good.” I’m not deep into the church growth movement and I’m probably of the more missional mindset so I’m the one for whom this case needs to be made. He still needs to make the case, but this was an important first step. Vision isn’t JUST a church growth thing.

Also, there are some fantastic quotables in here, particularly about growth idolatry. I know that’s been a struggle for me in college group through the years – and even in terms of event attendance. That was a good reminder to find our satisfaction/validation in Jesus and His work and nothing else.

Justin said...

Oh yeah. I'll get to chapter 4 tomorrow.

Justin said...

Chapter 4 was good. It gives me hope as a leader. I’ve always struggled with change myself and have tried to avoid putting others through unnecessary change. I’m a little concerned with the “vision-above-all” vibe I get here, but if that springs from the congregation God has given us, that’s great. While he notes he’s on the edge with “People” as “Fast Food,” I’m still not totally comfortable on that point.

Concerns aside, I like this discussion of the vision vacuum. I feel tension in changing things and get frustrated when people are either suspicious of me/leadership or just dig their heels in. While it might be an issue on their part some of the time, the default locus of blame should be me. A compelling vision must be cast. (I think I follow orders easily and I’m eager to please so I don’t get it when people need a reason for change. Silly on my part, I know.) But this is a helpful concept. I was even thinking about how to communicate something like this. What do you think of this approach.

Ask: What are the values that drive your ministry (the vision behind the program)? After discerning those values, ask: “Not that we’re going to do it, but rule out our current program as an option and let’s think of different ways to fulfill the same vision/values.” After some answers come from that, ask: “Which is better? The current or one of the alternatives?” If the current one, fine. If one of the others, ask: “What will it take for us to establish this next ministry?” Hopefully that gives them ownership and value moving forward.

I have other ideas, but I don’t want to dominate the thread here.

Greg said...

Well, I just read chapter 3, I thought it was pretty interesting. I liked that he got into defining missional a little more.

It is interesting, I just read about Mcgarvan, or however you spell it, in my missions class and how he along with the guy who founded wycliffe (townsend?) were the ones that focused on reaching people groups or those with the same language and how that has been translated into seeking homogenous groups for our churches and now many churches are trying to get away from that homogenity. I agree with you Justin, even though I would probably be more of the missional mindset it is still important to recognize the strengths of the church growth model. The quote about the inability to change ourselves was especially hitting as well.

It might be a week before I get to 4-7. I will do my best.

Greg said...

alright, so I read chapter 4. It was interesting thinking of the different things both in my church up here and down there of particularly programs and people that if they were changed would cause major disruption within the church.
The big thing that I got out of this was the need for vision to be communicated. What are the core values of the church and where is the church going. I really enjoyed the illustration of the granite and the sand and how sometimes we are just grasping at sand.
Personally, I am one that can get very connected to a group and would not want to split a group because it is growing, even when that is the point. But, if the goal of community is to be reaching out to the world around us then this is something that we need to do.

Josh Uht said...

I read chapter 3 and I really liked his explanations of the transitions of ministry focus. I thought it was really interesting how he talked about the culture shift being the main cause of the ministry mindset shift.

I think this was a good follow up to the strategic bashing he gave last chapter. I'm a little less frustrated with him this time. I also like the phrase about being imprisoned by growth vision. That we can work ourselves into bondage if we are seeking to simply grow is a great challenge for me.

I too was convicted on the growth idolatry and aimless events. I think the more we use events to fulfill our vision the better off we are. Which is interesting because Warren says basically the same thing in the purposes but I think this makes much more sense to me because it doesn't just fit one purpose it fits the entire vision of the church. I think the purposes are good things to use but I think vision is the better thing to fulfill because it gives the impression that it is more than just one or two purposes being fulfilled. Does that make sense?

I think that a purpose can be fulfilled without helping the church fulfill their vision for their unique culture.

I'm liking this book because it delivers a philosophy rather than a system or structure to be debated.