Missional Spirituality (Review)

Missional is a buzzword in the North American Church.  It’s a buzzword with a lot of ambiguity.  What does it mean to be missional?  What is a missional church?  What is a missional follower of Jesus?  These are all questions that church leaders are asking.  And there are many resources that are trying to provide some clarity to these questions.

Missional Spirituality (Paperback, Kindle) by Roger Helland and Leonard Hjalmarson is one of these many books.  Unlike many of the other texts that I’ve been reading on the subject.  Missional Spirituality builds its foundation on Jesus response to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”  Jesus’ reply to this question is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

From this response Helland and Hjalmarson begin to investigate what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  They focus on practices that help believers grow in their love for the Lord in all four of these arenas.  This is important as it helps people build faith and knowledge about God and move them into living the mission of God.  The authors then go into examining what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

Missional Spirituality is by no means a ground breaking revolutionary text on what the church should be doing to be more “missional”.  However, it is a helpful text for church leaders and non-church leaders to begin to figure out what it means to live in God’s mission of grace and saving the world.

Brothers, we are all broken

My heart is hurting for people who have been deeply hurt by a church in my area.  As a leader in a church I know that it is not hard to offend someone.  As someone who goes to a church I know that it is not hard to be offended.

But the stories that I am hearing lately are too much.  Church discipline is intended to ultimately be redemptive, to help people get closer to Jesus.  It’s not intended to show your power or authority over your followers.

Pastors can you please take a moment to pray for the people in your area who are hurting because of church leadership.  It’s not fair to those people that their image of Jesus is tarnished because of human agents.

The truth is that we are all incredibly broken people.  The grace of Jesus is the only thing that helps us get our lives back together.  Can we talk more about that?  Can we humbly recognize our need for Jesus?

Leaders, let’s get out of the way of people who are trying to find Jesus.  We are not meant to be gatekeepers of faith.  We are guides.  The only reason that we can guide anyone in their faith journey is because some one guided us.  That person was a broken human too.

Let’s be honest.

Let’s be humble.

Let’s celebrate Jesus’ transforming love and grace.

Let’s help people walk away from sin and towards the grace that we find in the Cross of Christ.

I think that’s what people are looking for when they come to church for the first time.

Love.

Hope.

Healing.

Forgiveness.

Compassion.

Community.

We should be the best at creating environments like this because we have received all of this from Jesus in the first place.

The GOSPEL

This is a great 5 minute presentation of the Gospel.  Creatively presented and compelling.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

The Gospel should always be compelling.  Unfortunately we spend so much time in the minutae that I think we lose sight of what the Gospel is really all about.  We debate over atonement theories, and soteriology, almost like we need to tell God how to do his job, because it’s really important to Him that we understand all that he does.

It is important to study theology.  It is important to know what we believe and why.  But we should never lose sight of these truths:

  • The Gospel is the greatest story that was ever told.
  • God’s love is really big
  • We are the problem with this world
  • God provided the solution through Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection

Do we really need to know how it all works?  Do we really need to foot note those truths that we find in the Bible with the words of theologians who lived thousands of years after the event?

Whenever I read the Gospel accounts I find that Jesus is way more compelling than our Theology or Christology or Soteriology makes him out to be.

So in all the debates about salvation that are going around the internet and in churches, let us not lose sight that the Gospel is an amazing story of God’s love for us.  And let us not lose sight of the fact that we need to tell people about Jesus.  And let us not lose sight that we are to continue the work that Jesus started, through the power of the Holy Spirit!

We have a mission before us.  Stop fighting, and tell the good news.  Our hope should be that all will accept God’s story of rescuing his people! That should be our motivation.  Our motivation should not be that our side is right and their side is wrong.  Stop!  Tell the Gospel story.

I should stop before I get angry.

(thanks to Josh Hebert for the heads up on this video)

The Body

Ephesian 4:11-16

“And he [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

This is the pastors job description, and the goals of our job.  Ultimately, Jesus has called pastors and teachers, and leaders in the church, to help the church grow up.  Pastors are instructed to build maturity, equip people to do the ministry, and to keep the Church on course, instead of being blown about by the trends and waves of the times.

This passage is often used as a proof text for giving away ministry to the church members, and that’s there, it’s important.  But what kind of ministry?  I think it’s supposed to be all kinds of ministry.  From teaching and preaching to serving behind the scenes.

This is really hard to do, because as I give up more and more of what I do, what am I going to do?  Well the pastors who are doing this are able to steer the ship, and keep it all focused on the mission.

But also the more I give away, the more I can love and serve the members of the church.  And the more I love and serve the more that will be reproduced in the life of the church.  What’s keeping the church from growing, I think, is love.  True biblically love for other members of our communities.

Just some thoughts.

10 Years Ago Today

I was a senior at Lake Washington High School.  Life was simple, everything was fun for me.  Even the pre-college writing class that I was heading into.  But as I walked into that class room, something very unusal was happening.  The TV was on and everyone was watching as Columbine High School was experiencing the worst thing that could ever happen, two gunmen assaulted the school and were holding students and faculty hostage.

As we watched this event unfold we saw helicopter footage of students escaping through windows, swat teams surrounding the building, students in the parking lot crying because they saw their friends get shot.  We were all glued to the screens and asking the same thing.  How could this possibly happen?

This was not the first school shooting that I had heard about on the news.  Columbine was different though.  The magnitude of the violence, the methodical planning of Harris and Klebold, and the fact that all of this was playing out on live TV seared this memory into my mind.

The stories that would come out of this tragedy were heartbreaking.   The accounts of students standing up for their faith were inspiring.  And the personal torment of Harris and Klebold were devestating; so much hurt and rage in such young guys.

Having kids now, I’m cautious of who is around my kids.  I’m even more aware of the fact that my kids need to know how much I love them, and I need to be sure that our house is a house of healing and safety.  I can’t control what happens outside of the house, but I can ensure that my house is a safe place for my kids.

Columbine taught me a lot.  And I’m sure that there will be many voices talking about this event today, but the most important lesson I learned is that I need to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to hurting people.  I need to speak life and not death to those in pain, and while I can’t fix everyone’s problems, I can be a voice of love in a world consumed with hate. These anniversaries are good reminders of that.

Great Presenters

Great post from Seth Godin on what makes a great presenter.

Bottom line if you don’t love your audience, you’ll never be great.  When it comes to preaching, if you don’t love the people you are speaking with then they won’t care.

Perry Noble, Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Rick Warren . . . all of these guys are great preachers, and you know that in their heart there is a great amount of love for the people who are receiving their message.  They preach because they love.

Too many sermons are preached because it’s sunday, or because they think the preacher thinks they are really smart.  But if you don’t love your audience you will be found out.

“As the talk (pitch/presentation/interview) begins, don’t focus your energy or concern on yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about them. The presenter who loves his audience the most, wins.”

Thanks Seth.

Tim Keller On the Gospel and Fanaticism and Wrath

Last night while I was reading The Reasons For God by Tim Keller, I came across this quote and had to share it with you all.

What if, however, the essence of Christianity is salvation by grace, salvation not because of what we do but because of what Christ has done for us? Belief that you are accepted by God by sheer grace is profoundly humbling. The people who are fanatics, then, are so not because they are too committed to the gospel but because they are not committed to it enough. (pg. 57)

And how about this one as well

God’s wrath flows from his love and delight in his creation (pg.73)

Chew on those for a bit.