Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Pops" Brings a Whole New Meaning to Missional

Last Saturday I met with my class EM 731 Evangelism and Missions in an Urban Setting.  Afterwards we set out to meet up with a graduate of the seminary named Craig. He has recently planted Restoration Church in the Houston-Tomball area. This house church ministers regularly to homeless, and so after Craig explained his ministry to us, we met a couple of people on the street who are homeless. We had picked up some food for them and listened to their stories. My class and I left that experience knowing that they definetly had a story of how they ended up homeless. When you listen to such stories you realize that they are not choosing to beg as some easier option but as a necessity to survive. But this brings us to the guy named "Pops" who brings a whole new meaning to the word 'missional.' Although we did not meet Pops (yet), we heard about him. Pops is a man who intentionally chose to become homeless in order to work among the homeless. His ministry is twofold: 1) to help those who become homeless to adjust to life on the street, and 2) to help those who are homeless make the transition back into society. Hearing about Pops challenged us concerning what it means to enter our context and serve as Jesus served-- in incarnational ministry. While we are often content to think that we are missional in our regular or semi-regular missional activities, Pops brings a whole new meaning to this concept. He does not return every night to his comfortable home but lives among the homeless willingly. Hearning of his work, I am reminded of Paul's words about Jesus: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9) I am not sure if I will ever have the privilege to meet Pops, but I would like to. I think that he would have a lot to teach me ... and my class about missional, incarnational ministry. May God bless Pops!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church by Reggie McNeal

In this book Reggie McNeal examines a number of models of missional communities in the UK and USA. If you are looking for a snapshot of missional community strategies, this book offers several. While the missional communities vary in size and form, they are united in incarnational mission, gospel-community, life rythms, and leader multiplication. Some are substructures of a local church, much like cells in a cell-church, while others function independently, or in a network. The author presents these as means to reach those who will not be reached by traditional attractional churches. Most models are in the research and development phase of what he calls "this new life form." Of course, this brings up the question if this is really a "new life form." It seems that he is reacting to the traditional, attractional church of the the 20th century because of its inability to reach the majority of people in today's society. This is to be commended. The church today needs to mobilize and send its people to engage communities with the gospel in word and deed. With that said, he seems to be fuzzy on ecclesiology and various ecclesial models in church history such as Waldensians, Franciscans, German and Scandinavian Pietists, and Methodist societies that organized small missional bands. The largest contribution of the book is the call for reform from the traditional, attractional mindset of the church in America and the UK toward a missional, incarnational praxis. For this, I thank Reggie McNeal for Missional Communities!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Missionality ... Part Two

            When the church addresses the needs of people within its sphere of influence, it establishes a positive presence, gaining credibility among them. Its sacrificial service in the world enhances communication of the gospel, validating its message.

            The church's character is an integral part of its message as it proclaims and exemplifies the good news. The gospel of love, forgiveness, holiness, and peace is seen by others to be credible when it is shared by believers who serve the needy, forgive sinners, stand for justice, and make peace in the world. The message and messenger are interrelated, with the full impact of the gospel being felt by words and deeds, and in many cases more by deeds than words, for our lives are letters "known and read by everybody," (2 Cor 3:2). Credibility wanes when others perceive incongruities between the message of the church and its behavior, between what it proclaims and what it does.

      The church becomes a credible witness as its attitudes, words, and actions are conformed to those of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter said, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us," (1 Pet. 2:12). The evangelistic impact of the church is dependent upon its corporate testimony, proving itself as a credible witness to the world.