Frost and Hirsch begin by introducing the problems of the current church structure, what they call a “Christendom mindset.” Constantine’s legalization of Christianity created a system where the State legalized and funded the Church and the Church legitimized the State, which eventually led to a system in Western Europe where the entire society had ostensibly Christian values—Christendom. In this system, everyone was already at least nominally Christian, so the Church went from apostolic sending and building to pastoral keeping and caring, and a rigid hierarchy of spiritual professionals developed within the Church. The church building became the place where you encounter God.
The Christendom mindset is marked by three things: a dualistic mindset, a strong hierarchy of pastors and teachers, and an attractional model. The early incorporation of the Greek way of thinking, which considers spirit to be higher and better than matter, into the Church led to a clergy/laity dualism that turned the hierarchy of the church into the professionals who interacted with God, supported by the State resources. Everyone else became spectators. Furthermore, Greek thinking emphasizes intellectual structures, so despite the fact that the New Testament says a lot about right living and extremely little about the abstract nature of God, all the Creeds of the Church present a highly refined speculation on the nature of God and no discussion of right living. Thus the teachings of the Church became irrelevant to the daily life of believers. Finally, the model is attractional—God “lives” in the church building, so you come to the building to experience God. Evangelism became bringing people to the building to encounter God through the professional spiritual people.
Christendom has been dead for decades, but the Church continues operating as with Christendom values, so it is no surprise that the influence of the Church on society has been steadily declining, sharply accelerated by the advent of post-modernism. Post-moderns value belonging, empowerment, and experience, none of which the Church really offers, especially evangelical churches. So non-Christians are fundamentally not attracted to church. Burning Man offers an experience in line with post-modern values, but the church offers something irrelevant. Yet churches think that if they change their Sunday service somehow that people will be attracted. The problem is the structure of church is completely wrong for the context of current society.
In order for the Church to continue existing, it will need to completely change. Instead of attractional, hierarchical, and dualistic, the Church must become missional, apostolic, and incarnational. Instead of expecting the non-Christians (who are now a majority) to come to the church building, the church goes to them. The Church must become a missionary effort to the Western world in addition to mission efforts elsewhere. This requires the missionary mindset of determining the values of the culture and how to best present Christ in those values. The Church must become apostolic, that is sending, rather than hierarchical and keeping. The Church must become incarnational, where instead of God and churchy things being superior to mere earthly things, the Church becomes the message, just as God became “enfleshed” and became the message in the person of Jesus.
The missional church is fundamentally a sending, going organization. Just as Jesus and his disciples went out to all the villages of Israel instead of trying to bring them all to one location, so the missional church tries to fill every crack of society with the gospel. This requires the discipline first examining the local subculture and determining what the expression of Christianity that is self-sustaining and reproducing looks like in that cultural context (and then, having the discipline to build that, instead of the Christendom church the planter is used to). Teaching is done Jesus-style, situationally, rather than in a classroom setting. Missional churches tend to have four shared traits. The first is proximity spaces, a neutral, non-Christianized space where Christians and non-Christians can naturally interact; for instance, a coffee shop. The second is projects shared with non-believers, such as a community housing project. The third is a commercial enterprise—it helps finance the organization, and while a new church is not seen as benefiting the community, a new business is. The fourth is an indigenous faith community that develops out of the interactions of the other three spaces.
The incarnational church is the expression Christ in the local culture. The Church should look different in different cultures; to create a uniform church across cultures is simply cultural imperialism, has as much place in the Kingdom as imperialism. Incarnational ministry is sending effort (in contrast to attractional) and involves becoming who you reach. There are basically two kinds of approaches to church: the bounded set and the centered set. Christendom is a bounded set, with hard boundaries at the edges so you can know if someone is “in” or “out.” Jesus’ incarnational approach is the centered set, which has no boundaries, but the closer you get to the center, the more closely aligned you need to be to Jesus’ values.
Church exists as a tension between homogeneous groups and heterogeneous groups of all ages and ethnicities. A missional, incarnational model of living in this tension is St. Thomas Crookes in Sheffield. This church has man homogeneous cell groups targeted at various subcultures and communities (rock climbers, night-clubbers, etc.) which meet weekly. Five cell groups, or about 100 people, meet weekly as a congregation for worship, teaching, and fellowship. All the cell groups have a weekly celebration service, although members are only expected to attend the celebration service once a month.
The gospel message, and by extension, the church must be contextualized, to fit naturally in its context. The gospel came in a context, and unless that original contextual meaning is transferred to the new culture, the gospel will not be understood—in villages in Zimbabwe, there are no doors and everyone knows each other, so friends stand at the entrance and speak, while thieves knock on the house to see if anyone moves. To simply repeat “behold I stand at the door and know” inadvertently makes Jesus a thief. The fruit of the gospel, the church, has a set of invariants in all cultures: communion with God (Word and worship), community with each other (teaching and fellowship), and commission to the world (serving the community and sharing the gospel). To contextualize the gospel and the church, the missionaries (us) study the host culture with a commitment to the Word of God as the source of truth. Then, the local people are given the task of determining what the expression looks like.
Communicating the gospel in the Christendom model is more of an “in-drag” than an “out-reach.” Instead, missional, incarnational Christians become “people whisperers.” The “horse whisperer” learned to tamed wild horses simply by observing the horse’s strong desire for companionship. In the corral, he awakens that desire by studiously ignoring the horse; eventually the horse decides to come to him to get what it wants. Similarly, we become people whisperers by listening to people’s heart desires, we awaken the desires by telling stories and creating a sense of wonder and awe (perhaps by going camping, for instance), and then we satisfy the desire by focusing on Jesus. (Jesus actually scores very well on opinion polls; non-Christians like Jesus but do not like the church.)
Incarnational Christianity must return to its Hebrew roots to get rid of the dualism that it has acquired from Greek culture. While the intellectual framework the Greeks developed is a great addition to Hebrew thought, the view of matter of less good that spirit is completely counter to the Kingdom. God values matter—He made it and said it was good. He even became matter in the form of Jesus. God loves pleasure: Jesus enjoyed life so much some religious leaders accused him of being a drunkard. Hebrew rabbis argued that every part of life is important to God, and that every act can bring God glory if done with the right heart. In fact, right action becomes a sort of sacrament. Just as sacraments do not save, good works do not save, but they do produce a grace of God in the receiver and a different grace in the doer. In fact, even non-believers can participate in the good deeds, and in so doing are invited into the centered-set. Once a part of the set, they can choose to move closer to Jesus.
“The medium is the message” means that the technology and structure (the “medium”) used to communicate the message in turn shapes us. We build church buildings, but the church buildings shape how we do church and how we spend the budget. Missional, incarnational ministry requires that every believer becomes the message. We represent Jesus; if we want people to follow him, we need to look like him. ReImagine, in San Francisco, describes the two aspects of Christianity as colors: the inward connection with God as yellow and the outward serving people as blue. Christians are called to be green.
The incarnation, missional, apostolic church is a tension between the five flavors in Eph 4:11: apostles (sending, building), prophets (the heart of God for the now), evangelists, shepherds (caring for the community), and teachers. These gifts exist to bring the body of Christ into maturity, and all are required. In fact, even secular organizational thinking has identified similar characteristics: entrepreneur (apostle) who builds organizations, the questioner (prophet) who brings new ideas to the organization, the recruiter (evangelist), the humanizer (pastor/shepherd) who is the human glue, and the systemizer (teacher) who creates a framework for the ideas of the organization. These can be abbreviated APEST. The first three are outward focused, and the second three are inward focused. In the Church, the shepherds/teachers ejected the apostles, prophets, and evangelists (who created parachurch organizations), which is why the church is full of immature believers in a sheltered environment. Only by incorporated the other three gifts can the Church regain its relevance in the world.
The authors realize that what they are proposed requires a revolution to accomplish. They also note that the entrenched system always persecutes new ideas. Yet, without change, the Church will continue its decline into complete irrelevancy, as has already happened in Western Europe. To implement this new vision requires imagination and creative thinking. We cannot solve the problems the same way we created them, nor can we build what we cannot visualized. Churches in this new model must be created with reproduction in mind; reproduction is not something that can be retrofitted. Likewise, such churches also need to be organic, that is, responding naturally to the environment around them.
I found The Shaping of Things to Come to really excellent at describing the problem of the current church. Despite attending a very vibrant church with a tangible Presence of God in worship, a vibrant expression of the arts in worship, and God regularly healing people, I have found myself increasingly feeling that something was missing from church, all the churches I have ever gone to. Frost and Hirsch’s phrase, “Christendom church” condensed it all into something that made sense. Likewise, the antidote was the obvious Scriptural answer after they said it.
However, the new direction was the aspect of the book that was the least clear. They talked a lot about it, but I have trouble envisioning what this would actually look like. They did give some examples, but honestly, they did not sound like churches I was super-excited to join. In fact, while I am dissatisfied with the current expression of church, I have never been very attracted to “missional” or “incarnational” churches. It might be that I have been marinated in Christendom culture and so cannot embrace the opposite, but it might simply be that all the missional and incarnational churches I have heard of seem to revolve and serving the poor, and that is just not everyone’s primary design/resonance.
Also, I have questions about how to actually implement one of these communities in the U.S. The modern U.S. has designed out social interaction—we leave our house in metal boxes, drive to the parking garage at work, and then drive back into our garage. The neighbors might as well be on Mars, because you are never going to accidentally see them. You can hang out on your front porch (if the garage has not squeezed it out and was even included after air conditioning rendered it seemingly obsolete), but nobody walks on the sidewalks. So, how do I create organic community?
Still, this was a very thought-provoking book, with many great ideas. In fact, too many ideas to include in this summary, so I recommend reading the notes. The book is very comprehensive, although a little too academically verbose at times. This book will crystallize the malaise for you, and while batteries are not included, you will have plenty of ideas on what pieces need to be included in your next church venture. Even if you are not a church planter, you may want to be one after reading this book.
Ch. 1: Evolution or Revolution
- Burning Man has proven itself to be an expression of something contemporary culture longs for. It has six core values:
- Belonging: no matter who you are you belong. You have a purpose—create art. Even if you try to spectate, throughout the week you will be encouraged to create something.
- Survival: you are in a desert in the summer. There are no comforts of home, so you must look within yourself.
- Empowerment: everyone is assumed to have some talent for something creative.
- Sensuality: the purpose is to experience.
- Liminality: it is a temporary period that takes you from one place to a new journey.
- D.H. Lawrence (1924), “The adventure has gone out of the Christian venture.” (19)
- Since 313 AD, the Church has had a “Christendom” mindset. When Constantine legalized and exalted the Church, the Church went from being marginalized to having importance and influence—due to the support of the State. This set into motion a partnership between the Church and the State where they reinforced each other. The Church went from being a missionary organization to the caretaker of society where people were Christian because they were born in that society. The Church moved from apostolic (sending and building) to pastoral (keeping and caring). The Church went from being the body of believers in a subversive movement to a building and hierarchy.
- We still operate out of a Christendom mindset. Ex: a Baptist church in Melbourne took the “radical” step of buying a hotel and renovating the bar into a meeting room. However, church was still a place where you come to. A missional approach is the Cock and Bottle pub in Bradford, England, where it is owned and operated by Christians, but local people come to the pub. They don’t want to you to say anything to them about Jesus, but after you’ve listened to their story ten or twenty times, they eventually ask for pray and stuff starts to happen. The latter is risky and messy; the former is safe and financial sound (cheaper to buy than build).
- “The church that Jesus intended was clearly meant to be a permanent revolution and not a codified civil religion, mere chaplains to the prevailing empire.” (31)
- The authors propose three principles of missional churches:
- Incarnational not attractive. Instead of creating “sacred” space which is where unbelievers encounter God, incarnational church goes to them.
- Messianic not dualistic. Jesus saw the entire world as the realm of God; dualism sees sacred and secular spaces.
- Apostolic not hierarchical. Hierarchy is top-down. Apostolic (according to Frost and Hirsch) is the five-fold model of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
- Strong cultural shifts result in the church seeing itself differently. The Rennaisance led inexorably to the Reformation. The current post-modern cultural shift will do the same thing.
- Evolution will not work; the church has to have a completely new conception (returning to the missionary model). Christendom churches offers nothing to a generation hungering for the values expressed in Burning Man. This is why the Church is effectively died out in Europe and the British Commonwealth.
Ch. 2: The Missional Church
- The 1990s were declared the Decade of Evangelism, yet church numbers in the US and UK have continued to decline. In fact, of new churches planted in the 1990s: most mother churches had not recovered enough to do it again (as of 2003?); the new churches had not planted a new church; a large number of plants failed; church plants tended to be in areas that already had churches, leaving urban and rural areas unchanged.
- The problem was that the church plants were of the failing Christendom model.
- Three fundamental flaws in Christendom churches:
- Attractional: people (believers and unbelievers) come to the church to meet God and fellowship with believers. “By anticipating that if they get their internal features right, people will flock to the services, the church betrays its belief in attractionalism.” (35)
- “When we have consulted with churches that recognize the need to embrace a missionary stance in their communities, we are amazed at the number of times, when asked to discuss specific ways they can recalibrate themselves to become missional churches, they begin talking about how to change their Sunday service. It betrays their fundamental allegiance to being attractional.” (35)
- Dualistic: sacred/secular; holy/profane.
- Robert Banks (Redeeming the Routines) observes that few believers know how to apply their faith to their work, make little to no connection between faith and spare time activities, no idea what a Christian approach to chores is. Everyday concerns of people are not addressed by the church. Worse, most believers reject the idea that there is a gap between their faith and their life.
- William Diel (Christianity and Real Life), a sales manager of a large steel company wrote: “In the almost thirty years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job ministry to others. My church has never once offered to improve those skills which could make me a better minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing. There has never been an inquiry into the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate my faith to my coworkers. I have never been in a congregation where there was any sort of public affirmation of a ministry in my career. In short, I must conclude that my church really doesn’t have the least interest whether or how I minister in my daily work.” (37)
- Hierarchical: top-down structure. This is obvious in denominations like Catholics and Anglicans, but even many Protestant and “low-church” denominations have a similar structure (just with different names).
- Tim Sine: “Every denomination and religious organization I have worked with does long-range planning. Ironically, they do long-range planning as though the future will simply be an extension of the present.” (38)
- Bishop Gladwin identified four likely features of the missional
“1. focus on the journey of faith and the experience of God;
2. desire for less structure and more direct involvement by participants;
3. sense of flexibility in order and a distinctly nonhierarchical culture;
4. recognition that the experience of church is about the sustaining of discipleship.” (39)
- Two examples of missional churches:
- Joshua House (St. Louis): Tim and Kristy started an informal bonfire worship night in their 2-acre yard. Tim worked as a motorcycle builder, so his community included bikers. They have a breakfast outside or in the lower floor of Tim’s clubhouse, then go upstairs for worship and teaching. It includes hardcore bikers, single moms, college students, and middle-aged couples. Basically Time and Kristy invited people to share their rhythms of life.
- Hope Community (England): three nuns were tasked to do a community service survey in a very poor public housing project. The responses of pain, despair, and need led them to rent an apartment in the building. They kept their normal life of prayer and community, but made themselves available. They did not initiate anything, but residents started a service that they plan and lead. The nuns do host and offer services like computer courses.
- Four shared traits of missional churches:
- Proximity spaces: places/events that allow Christians and pre-Christians to have meaningful interactions with each other
- Norm’s Coffee Bar (Newton, KS): Robert Palmer started it for people of all background to experience community. It has been used by many groups in the (small) city. He leads a church that meets there, but there are no advertisements for the church (“This is to say, the space has not been Christianized.” )
- Shared projects
- Allan Tibbels, a paraplegic, and his wife moved into the Baltimore ghetto to be incarnational and found only high-rent firetraps with absentee landlords. So they partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build houses on the many empty lots. His success led to so many donations that he eventually built 286 houses, contracting all locally, with mortgages of $300 (about half the going rate for rent).
- Mark Scandrette, an artist, moved to San Francisco to start a church. He joined the mural co-op, where he interacts with non-Christian artists and also influences what public art in San Francisco looks like.
- “The missional church doesn’t immediately think in terms of strategies, but in terms of people and places. As Bono from U2 says, ‘If Jesus were on earth you’d find him in a gay bar in San Francisco. He’d be working with people suffering from AIDS. These people are the new lepers.’” (44)
- Commercial enterprise: planting a church is not seen as helping an area, but starting a local business is.
- Jane Grinnoneau (Sheffield, England): acquired an abandoned pub in an area so bad that there had been no church presence for years. She started a skills center there, a training kitchen and a cafe, with plans for a laundery, and health/advice center in partnership with government agencies. It provides opportunities to help the community, interact with people, and create genuine community.
- Emerging indigenous faith communities: the community needs to arise from within the people of the area.
- Critics ask how people learn the Bible or doctrine in a missional church. Jesus taught situationally; our current method teaches passive learners who aren’t involved in doing anything.
- “[Being missional is] like saying that we want to prepare like an evangelical; preach like a Pentecostal; pray like a mystic; do the spiritual disciplines like a Desert Father, art like a Catholic, and social justice like a liberal.” (45)
- ReImagine (San Francisco) talks about “colored spaces.” Yellow space is personal, interior Christian spirituality (quiet times, Bible study, going to church, personal morals/ethics). Blue space is other-focused Christian spirituality (social concern, justice, public morals/ethics). Green space is the dialog between them, where true biblical spirituality is expressed.
- Missional Christians are like green people.
- Millenia Art Studio (Los Angeles): had a first-floor lounge on Second Street (a major artistic district) that hosted live music, dances, hip-hop, poetry reading, etc. in a drug-free space; also had art exhibitions for local artists, including the homeless. There was also an art studio (including free space) where artists worked together and Christians and pre-Christians interacted. There was a design group that did commercial work for customers in the area. There was a EDM collective with weekly events in the Lounge and which also picked up trash and served the homeless. There was a jiujitsu class in the basement. Finally, there was a faith community called Icthus that originally started as a small group and quickly grew past three cell churches. Leadership was recognized, not elected. Many members initially interacted with one of the other elements before becoming Christians.
- The missional church is primarily incarnational, messianic, and apostolic.
Ch. 3: The Incarnational Approach
- Incarnational ministry aims to do the same thing that God did during the Incarnation—the enfleshment. Notable aspects of the Incarnation are:
- Identification: God fully identified with man; the medium became the message. Jesus was fully Man, not like a king dressed up as a beggar.
- Locality: Jesus was located in a particular spot, and the nurture aspect of him was determined by where he lived and who he was around. He changed his disciples and his disciples changed him.
- The Beyond-in-the-midst: God was no longer “above” us but with us.
- Human image of God: after the Incarnation, Jesus is what God looks like. You look at Jesus and see God, but you look at God and see Jesus.
- Christianity is inherently incarnational. Given that it takes on aspects of the local culture, it is supposed to look very different in different cultures.
- Failing to be incarnation results in the cultural imperialism that marked much of recent missionary efforts.
- Incarnational ministry requires becoming one of the people you are trying to reach. If you are reaching the poor, for instance, you need to become poor.
- Incarnational ministry is a sending impulse rather than an attractive, extractive impluse.
- “In fact, this is one of the core assumptions that the attractional church is based upon—the assumption that God cannot really be accessed outside sanctioned church meetings or, at least, that these meetings are the best place for not-yet-Christians to learn about God. Evangelism therefore is primarily about mobilizing church members to attract unbelievers into church were they can experience God. Rather than being genuine ‘out-reach,’ it effectively becomes something more like an ‘in-drag.’” (61)
- The problem is that most non-Christians have decided that they are not interested in church meetings, so they aren’t going to come. Instead, we need to go to them.
- There is a model car racing community that meets in a park near a church on Sunday mornings once a month. An attractional strategy would be to entice them to a service with model car racing themes. Problem is, they already have a well-functioning community that fills their needs, and furthermore, it meets during the attractioning service. In incarnational approach would be to have some church members with a model car racing interest to start attending the community instead of the church service.
- Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men. In Jesus’ day, fishing wasn’t the one-man-on-one-fish sport it is now. A bunch of men dragged a net a whatever was out there got caught. Professional fishermen spent most of their time repairing their nets to ensure that the net was strong. In incarnational ministry, the net is the web of relationships between members of the church.
- There are two kinds of approaches to church:
- Bounded set: specific boundaries (membership, not drinking or smoking, theological beliefs, etc.) determine if you are in or out.
- Centered set: anyone can belong if they choose too, but the closer you get towards the center, the more commitment to the principles of Jesus you have.
- In Australia there are no fences. You know whose animals are whose by which well they are near.
- The two approaches have implications: (71)
Bounded set Centered set The evangelist is the one with the special knowledge of God and people must accept that to be saved. Everyone is the expert on their life and has the ability to seek the truth; the evangelist helps lead them on that search. A “lost” person is inherently sinful and flawed. Every person is created in the image of God: valuable and loved. Fix up sinners into saints. Everyone is a seeker, so the urge is to get people to ask, seek, knock. Tries to get people to buy into our belief system and team. Tries to further the discovery of truth. Conversion is a cataclysmic change. Conversion is a process that begins with the grace of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life (even before a profession of faith) and does not end until the Kingdom comes.
- The ideal church is made up of both homogeneous and heterogeneous groups. Non-believers have two gaps to cross on the way to mature discipleship. The first is a culture gap and the second is the gospel gap. The homogeneous groups help bridge the culture gap and the Holy Spirit gets them over the gospel gap. The church itself, though, is a very heterogeneous group of people of all ages, classes, and ethnicities.
- St. Thomas Crookes (Sheffield): has three levels of fellowship. There are specific missional cells targeted at various communities (rock climbers, football [soccer], nightclubbers, etc.). These are very homogeneous and meet weekly. About five cells (100 people max) meet weekly in a congregation, which has worship, teaching, fellowship. There is a weekly service at a local nightclub where all the congregations have a celebration service, although members were not expected to come more than once or twice a month.
- Aspects of an incarnational church:
- Holiness: Paul exhorts believers to live pure lives so that the Gospel will be attractive to people. Holiness is not refraining from alcohol but remaining greedy. Rather, holiness is more about not being greedy than whether or not you drink.
- Prayer: prayer for more evangelists, prayer for the evangelists, and prayer for unsaved friends and acquaintances.
- Socializing: Paul expected that the Corinthians were socializing with non-believers (otherwise there wouldn’t have been an issue about food sacrificed to idols). It is in social contact with non-believers that the Gospel spreads.
- One church stopped their sparsely attended evening service and suggested that the attenders spend the time doing something missional. One couple decided to walk around their neighborhood with their baby (always an attraction) and they developed more friendships and shared Christ more than they ever had going to the evening service.
- Supporting evangelists: since evangelists spend a lot of time with people, evangelizing, their lives are easier if the church can support them half-time, so they don’t spend all their day at work.
- Jesus-talk: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col 4:5-6)
Ch. 4: The Shape of the Missional Church
- The missional church needs to think like a missionary: what are the needs of these people and what structure would best meet these needs through God?
- Listen and find out the needs of the people you are ministering to. But then, design around those needs. Often church planters listen, and then build the normal attractional church. Effective missionaries generally become almost a part of the group they go to because they identify so strongly with it.
- Make sure you get leaders who have demonstrated an actual commitment to missional values; many people agree in their mind but cannot actually do it, and create attractional structures instead.
- Jesus’ model was to find a person of peace and invest in that person. This person will be someone spiritually open and influential (positively). They will carry the gospel through their web of relationships. This is much more effective than advertising to everyone in the area, hoping to get them to come to a service.
- Resist creating a priesthood/clergy. Even our senior pastor / associate pastor /worship pastor structures functions effectively like a clergy.
- Be careful of buildings:
- Churches in Asia and Africa meet without church buildings successfully. If your church requires a building, staff, and pooled finances to function, you are doing something wrong.
- “Howard Snyder writes that church buildings attest to five facts about the Western church: its immobility, inflexibility, lack of fellowship, pride, and class divisions. ‘The gospel says “Go,” but out church buildings say, “Stay.” The gospel says, “Seek the lost,” but our churches say, “Let the lost seek the church.“‘" (93)
- The building tends to set the budget and the structure of programs.
- The Temple was David’s idea, not God’s.
- At the same time, even traditional church buildings have been a useful space for a contemplative setting when modernized a bit, and are attractive to young people seeking contemplation.
- Build for reproduction.
- Carol Davis summarizes the two models: (96-97)
Extraction / Growth model Incarnational / Reproduction model Initial focus:
Individuals, believer’s space (services), recruiting Christians, large group meeting, teaching Scripture academically, build programs and buildings
Group conversions, unbeliever’s space, persons of peace, homes / third places, small groups, teaching Scripture for application, build leaders
Leadership: pastor, imported clergy, leader of an audience Leadership: APEST, indigenous disciples become leaders Finances: funded, heavy financal investment, imported resources Finances: bi-vocational planter, light financial investment, local resources Structure: needs of church, clergy driven, for slow growth Structure: needs of community, lay drive, for rapid growth
- Objectives of incarnational ministry:
- real connection: pre-Christians can see Jesus is “for” their community.
- real demonstration: Jesus is “with” the community.
- real access: Jesus is “in” the community.
- real encounter: Jesus is “of” the community. Jesus does not really become “theirs” until the second generation of indigenous leaders.
Ch. 5: The Contextualized Church
- To be a church requires three things that compete in tension:
- Communion with Christ: God’s word (logos and rhema), worship
- Community with each other: learning and fellowship/friendship
- Commission to the world: serving/giving and gospel sharing
- All three must be present to be a church. Parachurch organizations are concerned with commission, worship conferences with communion, and the house church movement with community.
- You do not necessarily need to meet in a building, meet weekly, have a minister, have a sermon, or sing hymns, as long as you do what is required to fulfill those six areas.
- Some practices were ordained by Jesus which we keep. Some were from the twelve apostles which we adapt. Some are apostolic patterns which we contextualize. Some are church practices, which are completely flexible.
- We need to contextualize: when British evangelists preached to the Zanaki of now-Zimbabwe, they quoted Rev 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock...” In Britain (and Rome) homes had doors and you had to knock. In a Zanaki village there were no doors; you just called and the people knew your voice. Only thieves knocked—they did not want to be identified, so would knock to see if anyone moved. By not realizing the need to contextualize, the evangelists portrayed Jesus as a thief.
- “[Contextualization] is primarily concerned with presenting Christianity in such a way that it meets people’s deepest needs and penetrates their worldviews, thus allowing them to follow Christ and remain in their own cultures. Cross-cultural missionaries are noted for using the expression, ‘Contextualization is when the gospel presented and the response called for, offends for the right reasons and not for the wrong ones.’” (109)
- The Gospel (and any communication from God) cannot be separated from the context in which it was given; it must be contextualized into the new context in order for it to retain the same meaning.
- Paul contextualized his message: he presented the gospel differently in the synagogues as he did to the pagans in Athens.
- How to contextualize (from Paul Hiebert):
- The church does a serious examination of the culture.
- The church maintains a commitment to the Word of God.
- The local people make the decision of what cultural practices are biblical and are kept, are unbiblical and are replaced, and those which are neutral and may be kept or may be modified. The missionary helps guide the locals with things like pointing out consequences of some decisions, but makes no decisions. This requires trust in the people and in God’s leading the people, but also validates the people, too.
- The people add new practices reflecting their Christian experience.
- John Travis has levels of contextualization (specifically for Muslims):
- C1: traditional church, outsider language: church speaks English, does church like the West. Large cultural distance between missionary and locals. Believers call themselves “Christians.”
- C2: traditional church, insider language: church speaks the local language, but religious language is Christian and not Islamic. Does church like the West. Large cultural distance between missionary and locals. Believers call themselves “Christians.”
- C3: uses local dress, folk songs, local art, etc. where biblically allowable to reduce cultural distance. Believers call themselves “Christians.”
- C4: like C3, but also incorporates biblically acceptable Islamic practices. Believers call themselves something like “followers of Isa the Messiah.”
- C5: believers maintain their Muslim status and may go to the mosque, although they meet regularly with believers. Unbiblical Islamic practices are rejected, but others are kept. Muslims may consider them theologically deviant. Believers call themselves Muslims who follow Isa the Messiah.
- C6: secret believers. They are seen as Muslim by others and claim to be Muslim but are followers of Jesus. They may meet secretly with others.
- C5 churches are seeing thousands of believers come to Christ in Muslim nations. Most churches in the U.S. are C1 or C2, but we need to be C4 or C5.
- Preventing error:
- “Hiebert says that critical contextualization:
- Takes the Bible seriously;
- Recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all believers;
- Sees the church as a hermeneutical community;
- Sees each church operating within a global network, thus ensuring a broader international perspective.” (121)
- Travis’ guidelines: (quoted from 121)
- Jesus is Lord and Savior; there is no salvation outside of him.
- New believers are baptized, meet regularly with other believers (this may need to be done with great discretion), and take communion.
- New believers study the Injil (and Torah plus Zabur if available).
- New believers renounce and are delivered from occultism and harmful folk Islamic practices (i.e., Shamanism, prayers to saints, use of charms, curses, incantations, etc.).
- Muslim practices and traditions (e.g. fasting, alms, circumcision, attending the mosque, wearing the head covering, refraining from pork and alcohol, etc.) are done as expressions of love for God and/or respect for neighbors, rather than as acts necessary to receive forgiveness of sin.
- The Qur’an, Muhammad, and traditional Muslim theology are examined, judged, and reinterpreted (where necessary) in light of biblical truth. Biblically acceptable Muslim practices are maintained, others modified, and some must be rejected.
- New believers show evidence of the new birth and growth in grace (e.g. the fruit of the Spirit, increased love, etc.) and a desire to reach the lost (e.g. verbal witness and intercession).
Ch. 6: Whispering to the Soul
- Traditionally Montana ranchers domesticate wild horses by breaking their spirit, a process which can take two or three weeks. Monty Roberts (the horse whisperer, although he calls himself a listener) observed horses and realized that they crave companionship. So he would get in the corral with the horse and avoid looking at it. The horse would rather make friends with its enemy than be ignored, and Roberts would have the horse saddled and ridden within an hour. The Montana ranchers, however, refused to adopt his much quicker and gentler method, preferring their traditional way.
- The traditional way of evangelism is to crush the spirit of the unbeliever with the weight of his sin. It takes a long time and isn’t very effective. Maybe there is a better way.
- We need to recognize that conversion is usually a gradual process. Only 20% of people come to faith in a “radical” or “dramatic” fashion. Of 500 Britons that came to faith in 1992, 69% said it was gradual, and even in churches that expected dramatic conversions, 62% said it was gradual.
- How do we become people-whispers?
- Listen to people’s heart longings.
- Tell stories that excite interest. Jesus told parables to hide their meaning; those that were truly interested (not usually the religious establishment) would seek him out to understand.
- Elie Wiesel: “If you want to hold the reader’s attention, your sentence must be clear enough to be understood and enigmatic enough to pique curiosity. A good piece combines style and substance. It must not say everything—never say everything—while nevertheless suggesting there is an everything.” (129)
- Provoke a sense of wonder and awe: Rachel Carson’s descriptions of nature in Silent Spring are so rich that you rage at their destruction by the hand of Man. People stand in awe at the Grand Canyon and even Notre Dame de Paris. The busyness of life leaves little time to find wonder. Take friends camping. Visit an art gallery. Watch the stars. The glory of God is everywhere.
- Worship services should evoke this sense of wonder, too, something that guitar bands and sermons don’t necessarily do.
- Be extraordinarily loving: an evangelist that Frost saw took questions at an event, written on cards. Most were the standard questions people ask, and he had polished answers. One card asked, “where was God when I was raped?” The evangelist tried to answer several times but could not. When he eventually composed himself, he railed against a society that gives men tacit permission to see women as objects. Frost could not remember any of the other answers, but he remembered the evangelist’s compassion for the questioner.
- Be alert to how God is already at work.
- Focus on Jesus: non-Christians are attracted to Jesus when he isn’t clothed in Christendom packaging. The real Jesus loved life so much he was accused of being a drunkard. As a Hebrew, he saw God in all of life. Sinners felt comfortable around him (not around Christians, though) and he hung out with them. He offended the religious establishment.
- Harvey Cox spoke to a group of Christians involved in various forms of healing (nurses, doctors, etc.). He told them Luke 8:40-52, where Jesus is on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter and heals the bleeding woman along the way. He asked who identified with Jairus (worried, grieving), then he asked who identified with the woman (suffering, unclean, alone). Finally he asked who identified with Jesus (the healer). Only six healers out of the 600 attending identified with the healer in the story. How many teachers identify with the Teacher?
Ch. 7: The God of Israel and the Renewal of Christianity
- Christianity has had a dualistic spirituality for a long time. Most of the celebrated saints were ascetics of some sort. One of the greatest, St. Francis, did not wear shoes or bathe, refused to own anything, and lay naked in the snow to drive out temptation. Very different from Jesus who was life-affirming, so much so he was accused of being a drunkard.
- Evangelicals have read the Gospels through the lens of Paul, rather than Paul through the lens of the Gospels. Christianity is entrusting ourself to a person, Jesus the Messiah.
- You cannot try to understand Jesus’ words as disembodied doctrine.
- The goal of Christianity is Christlikeness, not doctrinal correctness. Being Christlike means we are not repulsive to sinners. It means hanging out “with the wrong people, in the wrong places, at the wrong times, according to the religious establishment.” (145) It means loving life and having fun.
- Our actions are important. It is not “all of God, none of us.” Nor is world history God’s autobiography (Hegel). “[W]orld history is God’s biography as written by God and people; God supplies the letters and people write the sentence.” (146)
- The original, missional, non-Christendom Christianity can only be recovered by finding its original Hebrew roots.
- The differences between Hebrew and Hellenistic thinking can be summarized in to broad areas:
- Concrete/Historical versus Speculative/Theoretical:
- The Gospels (Hebrew) talk a lot about how to live life. The Creeds (Hellenistic) talk about the abstract nature of God. The Bible never gives any statement about God’s oneness; it assumes it. The Creeds never talk about how to live life, but they have taken the few and vague verses on God’s oneness and worked it all into a precise, albeit rather speculative (given what we actually know) creed. The Creeds talk about God’s metaphysical nature, but the Gospels talk about a carpenter’s son in a farming village in Galilee.
- View of history:
- Hellenistic thinking says that spirit is good and matter resists spirit and is therefore evil. With this worldview, we try to cleanse history of matter, which results in getting rid of all the human parts. Jesus couldn’t need to have gone to the toilet, nor would he be troubled by sexual stirrings. “And worst of all, in trying to ensure that God’s name is not muddied by human involvement, do we remove all of God’s involvement from history and find ourselves left alone in our sin and despair?”
- Hebrew thought says that God created this mess of matter in all its apparent chaos and called it good. God stepped into matter and lived in the mess and enjoyed it. The mundane has God in it. He is involved in history. If God is involved in the slums of India, we should be, too.
- Seven features of Hebrew thought:
- God made pleasure. Hellenistic dualism and asceticism has distorted sex, food, and other pleasures into being non-spiritual. Hirsch did a wedding “where he spoke about the fact that it was God who invented the orgasm and who structures life and marriage.” (157) Many of the Christians were offended at the two words close together, but the non-Christians were intrigued.
- There is a rabbinical saying that God will judge us for all the pleasures He gave us but we failed to enjoy.
- Torah is not so much “law” as in a set of legal rules, but rather “instruction” or “teaching.” The Torah has commands on honoring God right next to handling donkeys fallen into a pit, mildew, and menstrual cycles. The authors suggest that this arrangement is because all aspects of our lives have the same importance to God.
- Hebrew monotheism is practical. The original statement of it (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is One”) in the cultural context is not a doctrinal statement but a call for loyalty. Rather than a different god for every aspect of life, the Lord is the One God of it all. Maurice Friedman, “The man in the Israelite world who has faith is not distinguished from the ‘heathen’ by a mere spiritual view of the Godhead, but by the exclusiveness of his relationship to God, and by his reference of all things to him.” (159)
- The fact is, we tend to have a sort of “god” for church, “god” for politics, “god” for economic life, etc.
- Every act either brings out the glory of God or hides it.
- It is the intentionality behind the act that transforms a good deed into releasing God’s glory (the Shekinah, which the rabbis parabolized as God’s wife, exiled from Him by our sin).
- We have two inclinations: good and evil. The good inclination is towards God and is the action of the soul. The evil inclination is undirected passion. The passion is not evil, but neutral, however left undirected it leads us away from God. So the soul must direct the passion to God, and we serve God with all our passions.
- So the question is the direction of our actions. Either our actions are directed towards God or away from Him.
- This resolves the question of bodily drives in Christianity, especially sexuality. “[T]he Hebraic spirit seeks to harness the forces of our sexuality in their intended creational purpose. The problem is that if we fail to integrate our sexuality, then we are doomed to experience it as a dark, even satanic force that operates against faith and contrary to God.” (165)
- Make the everyday holy. Hebrew thought has only the holy and the not-yet-holy. We turn the not-yet-holy into holy by directing the deed towards God.
- “Faith” in Hebrew has more of the connotations of “faithfulness” or “active-trust” and is very relational and action-oriented. “Faith” in Greek is a kind of knowledge or belief. Hebrew faith is existential, Greek faith is credal.
Ch. 8: Action as Sacrament
- Post-modern culture has a more Hebrew approach to life than modern culture. It values community, rawness, action-oriented, human-oriented not ideological.
- Christians tend to divide themselves into those who proclaim but not do, and those who do but not proclaim. Both proclamation and action are necessary.
- Actions matter, otherwise, why would God judge us for them?
- All things can be redeemed. All vices are virtues gone wrong. (C.S. Lewis)
- Good works do not save. However, they are a means of accessing God’s grace: grace for the receiver, whose life is made better, and grace for the doer (if done with the right motive). “The good deed both leads you to Christ and issues forth from a relationship with Christ.” (178)
- There are two levels of obedience. The first is inward, the right intentions. The second is outward, condensing intention into action.
- Buber says that “Genuine religiosity is doing.” (178) Our task (our mission) is what gives us our name (reputation of character). [Story of a man who had good character but became a beggar. A rabbi gave him a letter of character reference, and he eventually got enough money to start another store. A man offered him a lot of money for the letter and he sold it. The man was robbed, killed, and mutilated, so when the letter was found on him, the man’s wife was notified and she later married someone else and had a kid. When the man returned, he did not want to expose his wife’s marriage as illegal and make her child a bastard, so he lived out his few remaining days at the cemetery’s caretaker’s house. The caretaker buried him in the grave his wife had bought for him. He had a name, but he lost it in his act of greed. He regained his name in his act of selflessness.]
- Action as sacrament allows others, even non-Christians to join in. It creates a centered-set, where people relate by distance from the center.
Ch. 9: The Medium Really Is the Message
- “Our primary identity determine[s] our primary purpose.” (185) The authors both had a complete shift into a missionary mindset, which then changed how they did church. One change his seminary evangelism program to be an internship rather than academic teaching.
- McLuhan: the medium is the message
- “medium” here is technology and technique not what we call “media.” He views the medium as an extension of ourselves; a tool. The wheel is an extension of the foot; the weapon is an extension of the hand or foot; the locomotive is the extension of the wheel; movies and computers are extension of the mind. The tool enables us to have a greater scope than we could before. We shape with the tool, but the tool also shapes us, and not always in obvious or positive ways.
- The sermon: the sermon is a tool for communicating truth, but it has shaped us to the point where we expect a sermon, even though it has to be pretty amazing to compete with all the other communications. We can’t even remember most sermons, yet we expect the pastor to give one. (Small wonder non-Christians expect to be bored in church.)
- The building: the building is a tool, and it shapes us. It says “this is where we encounter God.” The authors did an spur-of-the-moment analysis of a church they were in as the message. It was painted a solid color, no artwork, the chairs all pointed towards the stage, there was a great lighting and sound system, and a few people performed excellently. The message was that this is a place to consume.
- The seminary: intended to communicate doctrinal truth, it created an academic setting, which was then reproduced in the churches because that is what the graduates had experienced. So our churches have become a place where professionals teach us.
- Kirkagaard said “the truth consists not in knowing the truth intellectually but in being the truth.” (194) This is related to personal integrity. “Truth cannot be known divorced from life itself. If it is true, then it must be my truth. It must change me. I must be involved in it.” (194)
- Besides, the current generation gets so many polished sales messages that they won’t follow someone who doesn’t live their message; if they don’t live it, it is just another sales message.
- People associate the Jesus with the actions of his people (rightly so). If we want people to follow Jesus, we need to actually look like him.
- Traditional church interacts like three intersecting ovals: in the middle is the church, on the left is God and on the right is the world. Safety is left, risk is right. Jane comes to church, which is neutral, and interacts with her friends. Worship starts, she experiences God, and interacts in the left. Then she leaves and goes out to the unsafe world, where God is hard to find and she must do it alone.
- Missional church has the three circles all intersecting. The God/church intersection is theology in abstract; the world/church intersection is technique-oriented faith and religiosity; the God/world intersection is New Age spirituality. Where all three intersect is missional Christianity, where the church is incarnational and missional, and where prevenient grace (from God/world) gets converted into salvation.
- Rabbinical question: If God wanted us live by eating bread, why didn’t He make a bread tree? Instead, He gives grain and we buy a field and plant it; He gives rain and we till the soil; He gives sunshine and we harvest. God didn’t make bread trees because He wanted to partner with us in creation. “We suppose he could have converted the whole world by now, but he prefers partnership to mere accomplishment.” (198)
Ch. 10: The Genius of APEST
- The Church needs a new kind of leadership: we already have leaders, but they are not impacting the culture, so clearly we need something new.
- In Eph 4:1-16, Paul talks about the five-fold ministry: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds (pastors), and Teachers.
- The purpose is to make the church mature
- These gifts are given to the whole church; they are functions rather than offices.
- APEST is who unity “in Christ” works itself into diversity. The more strongly we are united in Christ, the more diverse we are free to be in our five-fold areas.
- APEST summary (210):
Apostle One who is sent to establish Urgency of tomorrow Demands of today EXTENSION Prophet One who knows the direction Demands of today in the light of tomorrow Demands of today UNDERSTANDING Evangelist One who champions the cause Urgency of today Demands of today EXPANSION Shepherd One who cares for God’s people Demands of today Urgency of tomorrow NURTURE Teacher One who clarifies the truth Integration of the whole Time INTEGRATING
- APEST is two-dimensional. The whole church is a pie split into five APEST parts. But there is a central core of leaders, also APEST. The leaders work together, but have their own spheres of influence.
- Ministry is different from leadership. Everyone has a ministry, but one can be an excellent minister and a poor leader.
- Sociological systems tend to recognize a similar five-fold pattern:
- “The entrepreneur is the groundbreaker and strategist who initiates an organization’s mission.
- “The questioner disturbs the status quo and challenges an organization to move in new directions.
- “The communicator/recruiter takes the organization’s message to those outside and sells it to them.
- “The humanizer provides the organizational glue by caring for the individuals inside it.
- “The systematizer organizes the various parts into a working unit and articulates that structure to the other members.” (214)
- Three principles of organic growth:
- Naturally reproducible: all five areas naturally exist within the church body, so these ministries will always have people.
- Self-sustaining: an church doing APEST will naturally grow (in fact, Eph 4 says that it is APEST that is what causes the growth).
- APEST allows a system where the everyone feels heard. In a hierarchical system, the bottom get dictates from the top and often does not feel heard.
- APEST produces an open-learning system: A, P, and E are outward-focused and bring people and ideas into the system.
- Organizational lifecycles (each label is on a Bell curve):
dream → belief → goals → structure → mission → nostalgia → questioning → polarization → closure
prophet → barbarian → architect/pioneer → catalyst → administrator → bureaucrat → patrician
- Pioneers need settlers or they pioneering will not produce anything. Cars need accelerators and brakes. APE are accelerators and pioneers; ST are brakes and settlers.
- In the Church, the STs have ejected the APEs. These found parachurch organizations.
- In every revolution, the people whom the old ideas benefit persecute the new ideas; expect persecution by the Church if you implement APEST.
Ch. 11: Imagination and the Leadership Task
- The authors visited evangelical churches around the world and discovered that they were all pretty uniform.
- “Evangelical culture is seen as a somewhat stifling, middle class, and at times schmaltzy, unvarying cultural typology that has little or no place for the marginal or other atypical expressions of culture.” (footnote 1, 226)
- “Art ... is the tense struggle between form and substance, outer expression and inner meaning. The act of mission, let alone of ministry and worship, should in this sense be no less an art form” (footnote 3, 226)
- The Western church is lead by shepherds and teachers, whose tendency is to maintain the status quo.
- The authors define “imagination” to include all of the ability to visualize, the creative part of the mind (the part that creates ideas, thoughts, and images), resourcefulness, and the act of creating.
- “One of the major shifts in this massive cultural transition we are experiencing has been the move from being a predominantly left-brain culture to being a right-brain culture. We have moved from being a rational-linear culture to being much more an experiential and nonlinear one.” (227)
- “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Einstein): imagination is what enables organizations to reinvent themselves and to create new things.
- “If you can’t imagine it, you can’t do it” (Einstein): when you build a building, it first has to exist in the mind of the creator, who then puts it onto paper in the form of blueprints. Only then can it be built.
- Darryl Gardiner: “poverty is not just the lack of money but the lack of a dream, a vision, hope.” (231)
- “It is the missionary’s task to rouse the imaginative abilities that lie at the base of the human soul in order to awaken the possibilities for a new gospel future and to access the deepest sources of human motivation—faith, love, pleasure, and hope. It is to awaken a sense of purpose, of mission, in life. No less is needed to help birth and nurture the missional church in the West. ... It is a disturbing trait of the more gung-ho Christian leader today to believe that he (usually male) is the sole visionary and the people are mere receivers of the vision and must adhere to it because of the position of the leader in the organization.” (231)
- The great leaders draw knit the dreams of individuals into a common vision. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream.”
- “[F]aith ... is not merely intellectual assent to a set of propositions but the supreme gamble in which we stake our lives upon a conviction [e.g. that God exists and that He is like Jesus Christ]: It is far closer to raw courage than it is to mere belief.” (233)
- “The kind of thinking that will solve the world’s problems will be of a different order to the kind of thinking that created them in the first place.” (Einstein)
- The solution to square thinking with square solutions that cause square problems must be a different paradigm.
- The experts in a field tend to be the ones that first recognize that something is not quite right.
- Innovators are persecuted (Machiavelli). “It is rare that an established institution can tolerate a serious questioning of its legitimacy implicit in a new, alternative model.” (236)
- Shifting paradigms:
- Encourage holy dissatisfaction: “rub raw the sores of discontent” (Marxist slogan)
- Embrace subversive questioning: e.g. Socrates. Telling people the solution is less effective than getting them to question things.
- “Is a can opener a can opener if it can’t open cans?” Sooner or later someone applies this discussion to the church. Is the church a church if it doesn’t function like a church? What is a church, anyway?
- “If you could start all over again, would you do it the same way?” Since the answer is usually no (for organizations that have a problem), that begs the question, well, why are you still doing it the same way?
- “What would your experience of church be like: (a) if you no longer had a building? (b) if you could no longer meet on Sundays? (c) if you had no pastor or clearly identifiable leadership team?” (237) This question exposes the fact that “Christendom is always associated with buildings, Sundays, and clergy!” (238)
- Become like (to think like) a beginner: an adult thinks of a chair having one purpose: to sit on; a child can use a chair as a house, a battle station, a building block, all kinds of things, because they haven’t created an association with the chair.
- Revitalization always comes from the fringes, so we need to incorporate the fringes. But the fringes are messy, so we are uncomfortable with the fringes.
- Take more risks: vertical thinking builds up with the same way of thinking; horizontal thinking moves to different places.
- Create a climate of change.
- Ask a fool: fools in the middle ages could say what they actually thought of something and sometimes put it in a different light.
- Break out: do something totally different. Eat ice-cream for breakfast; watch a movie that you wouldn’t normally watch; go a different way to work.
- Learn from mistakes: Edison learned 1800 ways of not creating a light bulb before he found one that worked. [GDP: but Tesla mocked him for spending so much effort trying things when a little thought would have greatly reduced the number of things he had to try]
- Challenge the rules; try something different.
- Get out of your box: instead of looking for fashion in a boutique, look for it in a hardware store or airport.
- Combine different ideas. Guttenberg combined the wine press with the coin punch and got the printing press.
- Have lots of ideas: 90% will be lousy, but they will produce the 10% that are brilliant.
- From Built to Last:
- Good enough never is: encourage continuous improvement.
- Try stuff and keep what works
- Accept that mistakes will be made.
- Take a new challenge each week.
- Adopt a [historical] genious
- Always keep a notebook and write down ideas as they come
- If you can’t think of an idea, pick a word at random from the dictionary and generate ideas using this word.
- Define your problem: this tends to generate all kinds of solutions
- Edward de Bono: six thinking hats. Each person has a colored hat the represents a way of thinking; you can switch hats after a while.
- white: neutral and information. Asks what information we have, what is missing, what information would we like to have.
- red: fire and warmth—the feelings, emotions, and intuitions. How do I feel about this proposal, how this is done, what will happen.
- black: cautionary hat, sees all the reasons why this won’t work.
- yellow: optimism, sees all the ways something can work.
- green hat: creative thinking, new ideas, new possibilities. Are there any alternatives (even seemingly bizarre ones), could it be done differently, is there another explanation.
- blue hat: overview, process control, thinks about the thinking. Asks other hats for input. Usually the meeting leader.
Ch 12: Organizing the Revolution
- It is the sociological form called “movements” that impact on large levels; therefore we need to study movements.
- A movement is “a group of people organized for, ideologically motivated by, and committed to a purpose that implements some form of personal or social change; who are actively engaged in the recruitment of others; and whose influence is spreading in opposition to the established order within which it originated.”
- This definition also accurately describes the NT Christians.
- Organizational diagram (following the Bell curve, but more detailed
than previous), based on “Management Studies” by Hoover, Rumkorff,
Sherwood, Roger, et al.
founding myths (identity) → belief system (expression, goals, strategies, action) → [peak] has a “utopian flaw” that is the distance between the projected growth and where it peaks → operational doubt → ideological doubt → ethical doubt → absolute doubt
- The solution to the inevitable decline is “sigmoid growth” where adjustments are made in response to the beginning of the decline in the operational doubt phase.
- Historically there are two kinds of church movements: spiritual renewal (charismatic movement, monastic movement) and mission (Wesleyan movement, Society of Jesus). Great movements began as with a mission that then became a renewal of established churches.
- Azusa St. Revival was originally an evangelistic outreach to the poor, and ended up becoming the Pentecostal movement.
- Howard Snyder, Signs of the Spirit, identifies characteristics of renewal movements:
- A thirst for renewal: holy discontent
- Focus on work of the Spirit
- Institutional-charismatic tension
- Concern for being a counter-cultural community
- Non-ordained leadership
- Ministry to the poor
- Energy and dynamism
- Gerlach and Hine (sociologists [probably secular])
- Cellular organization
- Face-to-face recruitment
- Personal commitment as a result of an experience that separates the convert from the established order, provides a new identiy, and commits them to a new behavior. (“Conversion”)
- An ideology of articulated values and goals
- Real or perceived opposition from society at large: Wesley was rejected by the Anglican Church, Martin Luther King Jr. was rejected by “hegemonic Christianity of his day.” (251)
- “Most established institutions will resist the movement ethos. It’s just too chaotic and uncontrollable for most institutions to handle. This is why most movements are ejected from the host organization.” (252)
- Our Christology determines our missiology (purpose of God and his people) which determines our ecclesiology (form and function of church), both of which feed back to Christology.
- If we don’t do mission, we lose touch with Jesus and ultimately our churches become closed sets, rather than centered sets.
- Centered sets have fuzzy edges but a hard center, which is the core beliefs. The leadership needs to adhere to the core beliefs, but the further away you get from the center the less the beliefs need to conform.
- Leadership is giving salt to the horse to get him to drink water, the food dish that draws the cats (since you can’t herd them), the honking of wild geese that excites the tame ones.
- Organizations need to be
- Organic: responsible to its environment. This needs to be built-in before activities start.
- Such communities tend to be smaller; a large community tends to become inorganic by nature of its structured programming.
- Multiplication of churches is much more effective than addition of new members to a large church.
- “We have become very suspicious of programming as a means of filling in gaps of ministry.” (259)
- Natural Church Development found that “organic” churches were equally healthy compared to larger churches, but were much more effect in terms of evangelism and missional growth. (259)
- You cannot know beforehand how an organic church will look, since it happens in response to its environment.
- Reproducible: needs to be built-in to the very DNA, or it will not happen.
- Seth Godin: ideavirus. Marketing by interruption is too inefficient. The ideas must be able to spread by themselves, by people sharing them with each other.
- Sustained learning systems: it is essential to re-invent yourself, or you become irrelevant.
- The church must continue in the proper direction over the long term.
- Churches need some form of “bottom line” that acts as a metric for whether the church is succeeding. Businesses that fail to make money naturally die; churches need to have a similar feedback mechanism.
- Authors recommend that bivocational/tentmaking or missional (getting donors) or some mix of financial support is better than the traditional centralized model. “It’s very hard to have a prophetic ministry to the group that provides your salary. And this incapacity to cultivate an authentic prophetic ministry contributes directly to the institutionalization of ministry and the church. Leadership is thus always hostage to the reactionary groups in the congregation. Change becomes inordinately hard.” (264-5)