The Subtle Shift in the Posture of the Missional Church

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As we begin to think of the heart and scope of the Gospel and embracing a missional understanding of the church, the ramifications for the local church will be subtle but significant. We begin to think of our local church not simply as a place where people settle and have their spiritual needs or preferences satisfied. Of course, I am not saying that there is not a time to settle and focus inwardly on our perceived needs, but rather, this is only a step in the continual journey of being sent to restore and reclaim and is not the desired end result or what defines our success. What we measure begins to change. We recognize that our spiritual needs are often best met as we are “going” or living out the “sentness” of losing our life or not settling in the comfort of having a place to lay our head (Mat. 8:20, 10:39).

What are some of the implications for how the church functions? If we embrace the concepts of all being sent and being incarnational, then ministry will come from the bottom up, not the top down. Decisions on ministry “programs” will not just come from the pastoral leadership team with the administrating, organizing, recruiting and implementing of ministry programs coming from the top leadership, staff, or a small group of volunteers. Rather, the posture of ministry programs begins to change and develop as those in the congregation are sent in their particular context and with the particular passions that God has stirred in them. The Pastor, staff and leadership then come alongside those as they are being sent, providing resources of time, energy, insight, training etc. The administering and organizing of the church is less centered on pastoral leadership and hierarchy than it is on the laity discerning where The Spirit is sending them to represent the heart and scope of the Gospel. Leadership becomes focused on relationships and discipleship, empowering and encouraging the congregation to discern where they are sent to bring Shalom, how they are sent on Mission with God.

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Amen!! I understand what you are saying. There is a definite shift going on. We feel it and understand what you are saying. My husband and I feel often that there is this change going on and slowly people are starting to recognize it but often it seems like our young adults are pushing for it and then we as parents as we listen to what they are saying and wanting we adjust to the wisdom that is actually being spoken. My child told me she no longer wanted to be a part of a church but she preferred to go and be the church. I don't advocate for that but I understand where it is coming from. I believe my child will eventually come back to the church because she is a Christian I know that. She believes that the church is not being the church when it is operating in it's consumer model and when it seems more like a large institution and she is just a small cog in a big wheel that cannot add her own uniqueness to it since it seems to only want her to adapt to what it is. She was frustrated as a high schooler and continued to struggle as a college student. But it caused us to look at the large numbers of young adults leaving and ask why. Many of her friends who went to the same private Christian college she did have completely turned their back on religion. When we talked to them we began to understand their frustration and it often seems like members of our churches look like the rest of the world, they go after large buildings with expensive budgets and big programs and all flash and little substance. So they have changed their view of the church and instead have opted out and toward home churches and small groups. We have been a part of a small group that some in our group consider church and some don't. We know more in the CRC denomination who feel the same as we do. We are looking for the organic church, the church where there is less politics and more awakening of our hearts. Well I could go on but I won't. I appreciate what was said and how you said it. Thanks.

Guide

Anne Rice has been in the news as she recently decided to quit church so she can follow Christ. (at least that's my interpretation). I can't help but wonder how many others feel the same way?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2010/08/anne-rice-leaves-chr...

Wendy,
I had some trouble using the link you provided, but I did find the article. She mentioned a number of objections to the Roman Catholic Church that indicated she might fit theologically in a liberal Protestant environment, but she is so disillusioned that she doesn't want to go there either. Many people have observed that you don't need a "church" to maintain Christian belief, but following Christ isn't just about belief.

Guide

I might have read too much into the article because I've also been following the discussions on her FaceBook page and all the pieces have sort of blurred in my mind. I know a number of young adults who have been disillusioned by what they perceive as a disconnect between the church they attend and what they feel their faith is calling them to do. I think that is what gave rise to the New Monasticism or Emerging church movements. I'm not an expert on theology and I know there are some issues with some of the emerging churches, but my overall point that I'm trying to make is that missional churches help bridge that gap that young adults often feel. That we are called to BE the church, to go and DO, not just show up on Sunday.

So I understand where owens_ey's daughter is coming from. I do hope she finds a church that will foster her desire to go and do. There are some excellent churches that do so right in our own denomination.

 Fellowship CRC Edmonton has attempted to follow the model as described. 

Notes:

1. Many of our offerings are based on organizations our members are actively involved with.

2. Our congregational prayer consists of members's prayer requests heard by everybody.

3. Opportunity is provided for members to share their experiences.

4. Support for short missionary journeys are individually supported.

5. The church itself has minimal number of projects organized by its leaders and/or members. 

6. The above can only be done if the church is located in an active caring community with many good organizations.

-- in our case there has not been a need to quit the church to be a church!