Check out last Monday’s post for the first half of this material on what it takes to move from being an internally-focused church to an externally focused one. This is one of three transitions Reggie McNeal sees as necessary in The Missional Renaissance.
From Proclamation to Demonstration
McNeal doesn’t believe preaching and teaching are wrong, but people outside the church aren’t going to engage with it as much as they do engage with people who are demonstrating their faith by blessing others. This shows a clear demarcation between internal and external focus. We can proclaim the truth, but we also need to live it outside the church walls.
From Institutional to Organic
Institutional is seen when the church runs felt need-based programs and people ‘support the church’ in a shift to the external, the people are the church and the church is working wherever they go. The focus is on what God is doing through people as they do life, hence the ‘organic.’
From Reaching and Assimilating to Connecting and Deploying
The goal of reaching people through events and assimilating them into the family means many new church members may end up being cut off from relational lines on which the gospel could best run. Externally focused means celebrating those relationships and those opportunities to live the gospel outside the church walls.
From Worship Services to Service as Worship
Oftentimes worship services set one congregation apart from another and serve as an attractional distinction among churches, but externally focused churches (rightly) see service as worship. They even take Sunday worship service events off the calendar to go out and serve their communities, understanding that serving others is indeed an act of worship. Missional worship services may have teaching, but it isn’t as central as sharing stories of what God is doing in the midst of the community.
From Congregations to Missional Communities
Many have suggested changes from the current congregational models of church and the missional community seems to be the change afoot. Whether they are part of a congregation or not, bands of believers are gathering with a focus on blessing others. This isn’t an either-or dichotomy and some congregations (smart ones!) are leveraging these communities that the congregation itself can be salt and light in their larger community.
From There to Here
Quoting one of his students, McNeal says this is about changing the world, not the church. There are a few things to remember in this shift. It isn’t either/or, change is possible. The point of this chapter is to give some ideas on how. Thirdly, are you personally opened up to the world God wants to bless through you? That’s what it means to be missional. Finally, new behaviors need to be implemented, including the scorecard for success. We’ll hit that next week.
Which, if any of these, are particularly challenging or encouraging to you? Or, if you’ve already ‘gone missional,’ share your experience in some of these areas.