Missional Defination in Art and Scripture

Philippians 2:6-7
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.

Matthew 28:18
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go...

John 20:21
As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.

Mark 2:16
But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?

1 Corinthians 9:22
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

A word of explanation
Rich over at Blindbegger, as well as many others I am finding, feel that the word missional is loosing it's meaning. Consequently he has called for a synchroblog event, happening today, to discuss the defination of the word missional.

Since I'm sure other people will do a better job than I at putting pen to paper, what you see above is my contribution to a working defination. Those pictures were not chosen randomly, rather, I believe they each carry great meaning. The word missional means the life of we who are the church centered on three things: Jesus, The Mission of God, and a sense of community; meaning an awareness of the interrelatedness of humanity, and the need to be in relationship.

The first picture obviously depicts Jesus, the center of all things, but just as important is the fact that in this picture Christ is incarnate in and for a particular ethnic community. There is nothing wrong with a blond hair/blue eyed Jesus'... in Scandinavia, or any community that is truly that homogeneous. (though I would question how truly homogeneous communities that think they are, are.) Jesus was God made flesh, for a particular community, the Jews in his historical case. We too must seek to reflect Christ in our particular communities, authentically engaging people where they are at.

People should not have to cross cultural boundaries to come to Christ. Unfortunately on it's worst days, the size and weight of the evangelical community has created its own sub-culture, one allian to those not initiated. It is a subculture wholly un-Christ like in that it serves as a barrier to those on the outside. We don't GO as Christ taught us, we say COME; and when your just like me you can belong... if you take this class and pass the test. (Of course there are good days too. Take a look at who is actually rebuilding New Orleans.)

The second picture is meant to convey a sense of "going", or being on the move. It's an added bonus, that in the picture the world seems to be passing the church by. How true. To avoid this we have to evaluate how we spend out time. How many relationships do we have with people outside the church? And how much of our time goes to those people? Jesus left the comfort of church err... heaven, and went to where people were at, usually the "sick" not those who are "well"... (in church?) (This is an area I certainly struggle in.)

The final picture is meant to convey a sense of community and relationship. To love our neighbor as ourselves demands an awareness of our communities both local and global, and an understanding of how what I do impacts others. The teachings of Jesus demand lived beliefs that impact the communities we are a part of.

In contrast, much of the church lives with a dualism that acts as if A) doesn't impact B). Ironically the church often talks about breaking down this dualism, and in some ways does. But several Biblical concepts,
justice and equality in particular, have been given very little attention. Instead, we who are the church have reflected a greater commitment to a kind of capitalism which is unencumbered with the ethics of Christ or a concern for those most in need. Sure we give of our time and money. But then our spending and investing habits, and the actions of our elected representatives (on both sides of the aisle) undo all the good we were tying to do, illustrating the dualism we are talking about.

Having said all of this, I am concerned that we who are authentically using the word missional (i.e. not just tagging it on to a very attractional thing.) none the less struggle to live it out. I certainly do, especially in the area of economic justice. There is a real danger that all we are talking about is degrees of separation on the wrong side of the equation. Do we really want to trumpet Jesus as our guide and example if we struggle as much as we do to live up to his over-the-top example?

Take these pictures for what their worth, and by all means, feel free to critique. For a fuller defination see the links below.


Oasis (3) - Missional?

So this Sunday will be our first preview service for Oasis, our new church plant. Things are kind of crazy right now, but I need a break, so I thought I would share some of the mental gymnastics I am going through with being missional in a semi-rural/semi-suburban context, in Nebraska.

It’s my impression that a certain number of people in this area want the attractional thing. Want church to be a place to go to meet Jesus. Now if missional is absolutely the only way to do things, well then you don’t compromise. The problem I have is that I don’t think everyone woke up January 1st, 2000 and suddenly became postmodern. On the contrary, I get the impression that many un-churched people still think that when life is falling apart, the institutional church is where you go to get God.

I don’t agree with that at all. But because I agree with a missional perspective, I’m willing to work with people and their misconceived ideas about church, in the same way I am willing to be in relationship regardless of any number of other things we might disagree about. Some aspects of attractional can be missional for those in a modern 20th century context. We are going to gather to worship together. What am I going to say when someone's life is falling apart, and they "come to church." "Sorry I can't help you, let me set up a non-appointment with you at the bar so we can do this more incarnationally." Having said tha, what leans me to the missional side is when I see churches going uber attractional, assisting in the sin of a self centered world view, simply giving people what they want, be that the "uncompromised gospel" or anything else.

What were doing in Waverly is a missional thing, wrapped in an attractional shell. Yah were advertising, inviting people to church and what not. But that is where attractional stops. If I had my way, our buzz line would be “It’s not about you.” (Or me.) On Sunday we are simply going to gather together to worship our Lord and Savior, and btw your invited. If some people are attracted to that, fine. But when it comes to lived values. It will be about missional. Keeping it simple, the values of Jesus, going to where people are at, serving our community, in community, doing life together.

Needless to say, this will make none of the true believers on either side happy, but I believe that it corresponds to a key tenant of missional, which is to be true to your zip code, not your friends zip code.

Talking about this on paper, kind of easy compared to the challenge of living it out. That is the part that really scares me, and where I feel the least prepared.


Oasis (2)

Here is part of an article I published in our monthly newsletter, explaining why we are planting a new church.

The reason for the larger question of why start a new church at all comes from scripture. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be reaching out to new people in different places, inviting them to draw close to Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 10:27-28) We believe that a healthy church is a growing church (the opposite is not necessarily true) And as we have seen, the
Northern Lighthouse (NL) is growing. This raises questions about how one is to grow, relationally, systemically, and physically. (i.e. a building) One way to grow is to be ever spending money on ever larger buildings. Our approach at the NL and now Oasis, is to plant new churches. Why? So that more people worship Christ, and reflect the Kingdom of God, serving others, rather than living under the consequences of poor choices.

Right now, less than 400 of the 2800 people currently living in Waverly, worship in Waverly. There are two good churches there, but with 2400 people in need of a closer relationship with Christ, there is a great need in Waverly. Additionally, some of the things we do here at the NL are unique. The kind of atmosphere we all work to create, a community which is a place of acceptance and direction, a place of hope and love, and all through the power of the Holy Spirit, these are the type of things we believe God has called us to be a part of in Waverly. Additionally, because God is already at work in Waverly, we don’t seek to bring something external to this community, something that is of ourselves, but rather, we seek to join God where he is already at work. As we have been helped, so we help others, creating a community of the Spirit.


Missional - Overused and Missunderstood?

Rick over at Blind Beggar believes that the word missional is getting overused. So he is calling for a SynchroBlog about the defination of missional on June 23. You can see who else is talking about this here. I'll definitely be participating.

In the mean time, here is my defination in three words: Jesus - Community - Go.


Oasis (1)

So I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm helping to plant a church in Waverly Nebraska, a suburb of Lincoln. This new church plant will be called Oasis Community Church, or just "Oasis", which is what we hope to be.

Keep in mind, one's stay at an oasis is always temporary, it is a place to rest for those on a journey. Lord willing, so it will be with our Oasis. As we participate in the mission God has given his people, the church, to be ever going, living the good news where people are at, we will seek to be a temporary Oasis of relationships and worship, a place to reorient ourselves on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

In the next few days I'll post a few more articles about what God has called us to be a part of in Waverly.