Book Review — The Church as Movement

When it comes to team building beyond the silly exercises of doing an obstacle course together or having some “trust fall” experience go bad on you, there is the need to actually build a team. When it comes to building a church planting team so a church is built on the basis of discipleship, there is a need to have training in place that is more than the pragmatics of how a Sunday service will go. Read more

Being missional

Missional is a word that seems more trendy than real. For me, it’s become more real than trendy.

Many pastors want their churches to be permanently and pervasively missional, but churches can’t be missional without multiplying disciples. Being missional is more than an occasional event to help the poor or practice friendship evangelism with a neighbor; it’s a body of people being equipped and unleashed to see the kingdom of God take root in a neighborhood, an agency, or a company. — Bob Roberts, Jr., Lessons from the East 

There is ALWAYS Something to Attack

Just when I think I find something new to explore, to look at and see if it something that begins to describe what I am sensing in my own spiritual life, along comes an attack on that exact position. Anthony Bradley takes a swing at the terms “missional” and “radical” and calls it the “new legalism.”

Just when I was liking Greg Boyd a few years ago, I began reading things from others about why I should hate Greg Boyd.

Before that it was John Maxwell.

Before that it was Chuck Swindoll.

There is always something to attack.

Bradley’s whole premise seems to be, “Hey! Why can’t we be normal?”

To which I says, “Why NOT?”

First of all, who in the world really knows what MISSIONAL really is? I mean, even missional people can’t define it! They start with, “Well, it’s not…”  Thirty minutes later, I’m asleep and their still getting to what it might be.

But as for Bradley’s definition he says: This term is used to describe a church community where people see themselves as missionaries in local communities.

Wow. How offensive. How undesirable.

Are there cautions? Of course there are cautions. There are always cautions. Greg Boyd, as much as I still like him, is ticking me off by his non-answers more and more. There is always something NOT to like.

By the way, I like John Piper, too. Now, I’m really messed up!

Radical Christianity. Bradley calls this narcissistic. Listening to David Platt, I hear about going to the unreached peoples of the world. Give up some comfortable things and go serve a world that has yet to hear the gospel. I am not a philosophy major, so I may be shooting in the dark on this one, but that just doesn’t sound very narcissistic. But, what do I know? I don’t have a PhD.

To be clear, I DO agree with Bradley on the need for caution. But only on the need for caution. Legalism? Maybe some signs. But I can find those signs anywhere. I think Lutherans are legalistic about calling people Pelagian. 😉

In some missional leaders and “radical” leaders I don’t find people using shame. I find them using challenges. Challenges from the Gospels. That’s just downright offensive, I know. I want to sleep in more myself!

Bradley asks why can’t we just love God and love our neighbors? I completely agree. But with some missional and “radical” writing I find some very helpful ways to put feet on those ideas. Not always, but there are some helps there.

If you are tired and weary, by all means take a break. Rest. Find rest in Christ. Find rest in my church! Don’t feel like you have to go “kill” yourself to please me, some other preacher, or some other church.

But at some point, find a way to love God and love your neighbor. Get beyond yourself again. Find some challenges. They don’t have to be the same challenges of a Shane Claiborne or David Platt. They need to be from the Spirit. But rise to that challenge.

So, I am thankful that Bradley has finally given me a better definition of “missional.” It’s a definition I can really latch on to, whether I wear dreadlocks and live in an urban commune or not!

Book Review — Creating a Missional Culture

“Missional” has been a buzz word for so many years it’s become a bit of a buzz kill. In some respects, the use of the word seems to me to be another way to create a conference and a nice roster of speakers.

But there are leaders doing “missional” work and seeing what the Spirit is doing is vital. Over the years, as I have learned more about church history, liturgy, and spiritual formation, I have been drawn to forms that call disciples to walk more closely with the Lord.

Creating a Missional Culture by J R Woodward is a book written by a practitioner. He’s beyond the theory.

Woodward does an excellent job of building the case for missional congregations, then brings out some very practical ideas. One thing I found refreshing about his work is he didn’t spend his time bashing away at how church “is” and how we’re “getting it wrong.” He presents his case for what he sees as a good model, then demonstrates how that has worked in some different contexts. He moves in a positive direction.

It’s a positive direction, but it is challenging. While the American church has been chasing a CEO model for the past few decades, Woodward is taking his thoughts in a different direction. While I have watched my own denomination pick up the model of “satellite” churches, which focuses on one strong leader who broadcasts his sermon to several sites, Woodward refreshes the idea of multiplication through multiple leaders. 

In our either/or society we’ve created two types of leadership. We either go with centralized leadership, or decentralized leadership. Woodward’s suggestion, which he builds off of Ephesians 4, is polycentric leadership. We need to unleash the gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher again. We need to trust each other and the leading of the Spirit.

What is needed is a culture change. We need to examine, as a church, how we are doing things and come to some conclusions. And it needs to be done as a body. Creating a new culture of unleashing gifts when it’s been a “top down” model is a tricky deal. Woodward is incredibly thorough in drawing in how he has seen this work. He doesn’t just give illustrations. He lays out practical thoughts, principles, and strategies.

It is a book that needs to be absorbed slowly, talked about, then probably read again. No organization can make wholesale changes at the snap of a finger. Woodward’s propositions are well worth considering.

I received a review copy of this book from InterVarsity Press and am under no obligation to give this book a positive review.