McNeal starts this chapter by noting a young church that posted their community service hours on their website to indicate their value of serving the community. They wanted to be a community who loved their community and this was an indicator. Becoming externally focused is more than just a program that includes community service. McNeal discusses several shifts that need to happen to actually shift from Internal to External Focus.
From Church-centric to Kindom-focused.
The church-centered world is when life revolves around the church and the church becomes a ‘full-service’ parallel universe alongside the world. The missional church doesn’t look at the kingdom through church lenses (where Jesus returns to make the world church-friendly). Rather, it looks at the church through kingdom lenses. Jesus is always at work and the church is catching up to Jesus and His work. The church is people, not a place. Wherever God’s people are, the church is there.
From Destination to Connector.
The church should not be a destination, but connecting people to the lives God has called them in the workforce, in their families, in their communities. Having the church as a destination is like saying an airport is the destination.
From Thinking We Are the Point to Being Absolutely the Point.
A question McNeal likes to ask when he speaks is this: “What’s the point of being the people of God if the people of God are not the point?” He’s getting at the fact that God has chosen us to be a blessing (check out this article from Christianity Today on Lesslie Newbigin for similar ideas). Since we are to be a blessing people, McNeal challenges churches to change from an evangelism strategy to a ‘blessing strategy,’ which people want to do (since they don’t want to do evangelism). The results seem to be better in our culture – and I know it is my personal preference.
From Attractional to Incarnational.
In many ways the church has sought to be a full-service community where success is measured by participation in church activities. An incarnational church sees the church as dispersed to bless the community so the influence of a church-member teacher would be taken into consideration in an incarnational church, not just the size of the children’s ministry. The ultimate measurement in an incarnational community is the quality of disciple and how they influence the culture – celebrate incarnational ministry, commission people as missionaries to apartment complexes, etc…, and adopt schools to get into the community.
From Member Culture to Missionary Culture.
The attractional church is about members, the missional church is about the congregation seeing themselves as missionaries in their culture. The church needs to avoid being a parallel culture. Instead, it needs it’s ‘members’ to engage all over the place as ‘missionaries’ if it is to be a missional church.