Missional Monday

More from Consuming Jesus:

“All too often, we think of the church simply as a building with programs aimed at making sure the church survives and thrives. On this model, people do everything possible to keep the show going. This view of the church is not missional.

And as far as the poor in the surrounding community are concerned, they are viewed simply as a side issue – simply the beneficiaries of our charity. But charity does not build community. It fosters separation, keeping the poor at the far end of our outstretched hand.

As Christ’s community, we must move to the place of seeing the church as an extension of Christ’s missional presence in the community, where justice for the poor is central. Christ followers must go to the poor, not primarily for the purpose of inviting the poor to church, but to be the church in their midst.”

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10 thoughts on “Missional Monday

  1. Excellent. You don’t know how many times people ask me, “so you have mission groups, what kind of fruit are you seeing?” Translated, how many people are getting saved and coming to your church…it completely misses the point. We don’t create mission groups as some kind of outreach…we create mission groups that partner with God and others in bringing healing to the world. We do it because we are part of the new humanity and it is how we are instructed to live out our faith.

    “we must move to the place of seeing the church as an extension of Christ’s missional presence in the community”

    If we just worked at unpacking that statement and continued to ask our faith communities where we are “being” and “doing” this I can imagine we would see the beginning of the change we all “talk” about so much. It seems it’s beginning. As more and more followers of Christ hear these kinds of conversations, something deep in their hearts intuit that this is right, this is what their faith is about. I have hope. The Holy Spirit is speaking from many traditions and I see people waking up and saying “yes” I will follow Jesus there…

  2. Grace,

    I’m all for this 100%. Find some host house in a poor neighborhood – make you a crock pot full of sloppy joes or nachos (something easy). Take 4 or 5 packages of buns or tortilla chips. Set up a meal-time. Send two or three people out with the neighbor (person known there) – invite the kids or whoever is there in for sloppy joes or nachos.

    Don’t blast them with the Book – just love them. Let them break your heart with their stories – then ask the Lord what He wants you to do.

    This is exactly what we did once a week – last summer. We had a blast – one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. We often shared Jesus with kids and others – we really didn’t have any other answers – talk about injustice – wow. What do you tell a kid who’s biggest dream is that his mother would get off of crack cocaine so he wouldn’t have to go back into foster homes again?

    I’m sure there are dozens of other practical ways to start making connections in there – that’s just what we did.

    For the most part – the American church wants to throw money at everything and hand it over to the professionals who take care of the poor. We came to find out – many of those professional care givers were actually taking care of themselves by giving the big churches warm and fuzzy feelings about helping the poor.

  3. amazing passage! this is what i am longing for, but am having a difficult time figuring out how to implement in my life. there is talk at my church of starting some sort of ministry in the downtown area…something with the poor. the people that are involve have a heart for this sort of missional living and i don’t know what the plans include, but i have to admit, i have this fear about actually being involved in this sort of thing because i’m afraid it will end up being programatic and institutionalized and just like everything thing else that is being done in a “churchy” way.

    jerry…i like your idea about having a weekly community meal time. maybe i’ll suggest something like this. we need to think outside the whole “let’s start a bible study” box. this isn’t to say i am against bible studies, certainly not. but i admire the way Jesus did things…he met people’s needs and he taught them, yet he was already in a place of knowing the culture. i think sometimes there are cultural barriers when dealing with the poor and disenfranchised. we first must be learners, listeners before we have a platform from which we can speak.

    rose…oh how i can relate to the whole “how many people do you have” as an equation to your success – i was an overseas missionary for several years and was asked this sort of thing seemingly non-stop.

  4. rose,
    I agree that the Spirit is moving in peoples’ hearts. A change in how we perceive ourselves and others is an important precedent to changing what we do.

    Nathan,
    Where did you see the feet? I should move them over here. They became a problem on the front page of my old blog.

    jerry,
    Great example! Thanks for sharing it.

    davida,
    Personally, I am still in the process of a huge paradigm shift regarding mission, ministry, and charity. While mistakes may be made, perhaps we can learn best in the trenches.

  5. Davida, As long as we had food and no strings attached – we didn’t have any problem at all gathering a crowd.

    As soon as anyone tried to preach – we had a real hard time getting people to come (or stay).

    As soon as our hosts tried a film or a Bible-lesson attendance went to ZERO in about a two-week period. We were constantly fighting religious agendas (as I think is always the case in our region). By the end of the summer – their (the hosts) pastor had convinced them that they could start a church service in the garage in that time slot. Only problem was – none of the neighbors wanted to attend a church service. (oops). It became food – in exchange for your attendance in a church service – wow. We eventually just politely bowed out.

    When we were at our peak – many of the people who came turned out to be kids – which I loved dearly. What totally shocked me was – they’d grab a plate of food – and eat – but then they’d just stay and hang out and talk. I’m Mr White, fair-skinned suburbia – talk about cross-cultural shock. They would touch my freckled arms to see if my skin was really smooth or not. There was violence all around – but we felt safe. The drug dealers had respect for us. I found that quite odd – but they had enough troubles without messing with the Lord’s people. That was their attitude.

    My advice – don’t do a Bible study – don’t do a church service – give them something that you don’t expect to be paid back for. Don’t try to make them slaves to your “agenda”. They are very sensative about that issue – any appearance of that – and your attendance will be gone.

    Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

    This verse and many other verses like it came alive down there – I recommend this type of activity to anyone – YOU WILL BE BLESSED.

  6. Ha! I think you left a comment on Sarah’s blog. Maybe? It’s where the comments show up in a separate window w/ that little profile pic. I don’t have a pic for mine, but I saw feet with red polish, which is cool, and it was you. How funny!

    Cheers.

  7. jerry…thank you for your comment. it brought tears to my eyes.

    when i was reading about how the host’s pastor wanted a church service started, i thought, “why? why do they need to start a church service? why should they?” this seemed like a strange thought coming from me who is all about chruch planting, yet it is a valid question! from my personal experience, there are often mixed motives when starting a church service or bible study or what have you. and quite honestly, it is often the last thing people need. one more institution telling them how they’ve got it wrong and what needs to be done to fix it. also, i figure if i hate to go to church, why should i inflict it on other people??? haha!!! anyway, i’m thankful for the reminder of the words of Jesus and want to not simply read them, but live them.

    thank you grace for this place where we can express these things. i have very few people i can talk to like this IRL (but they are near and dear to my heart).

  8. to be the church in their midst … I love this stuff, no invites to the cathedrals, to our holy huddles, no way … He said GO!! – well we’d better go.

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