Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From Pastor Chris - Everyday Missiology

Yesterday I attempted to lay some groundwork for what "missional church" means for us. This has been a popular and trendy subject among leaders and scholars within Christianity for more than a decade. Only recently has it become a more popular conversation among evangelicals.

I offered my reflections out of Ephesians 3:1-13, paying particular attention to verses 6 and 10. The mystery of God, his promises to redeem his people, has been made available to all people through faith in Christ (v.6). It is the work of the church to make this mystery known, especially through the uniting of Jew and Gentile to the one body of Christ (v.13). There is a lot more that could be said but simply speaking, the gospel is what God has done in Christ and the result is peace with God and peace with one another. It is the mission of the church to declare the peace made possible with Christ and to demonstrate in our lives.

In the past, churches in the west existed in a culture where Christianity was the default religion of most people. Ministry then was designed to wake up nominal believers and this is expressed in ministry styles that assume people will show up. Today the default worldview is secularism and being a part of a church is no longer considered a necessary part of life. Therefore, the church must take on a missionary posture to the culture and adopt forms of ministry that go to people instead of assuming they will come to the church.

But the primary concern is how do we do this? This is where the "missional church" discussion gets very confusing very fast and means drastically different things to different churches. Some of it at least means speaking to idols of the culture, yet also affirming good things about the culture.

In Everyday Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis offer some good basic questions to begin to think about what mission looks like in everyday life (pp. 42-43). These are worth reflecting on in your own life and in your small group. These are basic questions a missionary would ask in a new culture.

Where are the places and activities we can meet people?
Where do people experience community?
Are there existing social networks with which we can engage, or do we need to find ways of creating community within a neighborhood?
Where should we be to have missional opportunities?

What are the patterns and timescales of our neighborhood?
When are the times we can connect with people?
How do people organize their time?
What cultural experiences and celebrations do people value? How might these be used as bridges to the gospel?
When should we be available to have missional opportunities?

What are people's fears, hopes, and hurts?
What gospel stories are told in the neighborhood? What gives people identity? How do they account for wrong in the world? What is their solution? What are their hopes?
What are the barrier beliefs or assumptions that cause people to dismiss the gospel?
What sins will the gospel first confront and heal?
In what ways are people self-righteous?
What is the good news for people in this neighborhood?
What will church look like for people in this neighborhood?

This week I am meeting with fellow pastors to discuss some of these ideas in their own neighborhoods following a similar list of questions. I encourage you to begin asking some of these questions about your own neighbors and neighborhoods!

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