Archive for engage
OK, so I said goodbye to Starbucks. Since that time my closest Starbucks closed up shop. No kidding, there is now brown paper taped over the windows. I didn’t expect my departure to have such an immediate impact. In fact, if my occasional purchase was the difference between viable operation and butcher paper, then maybe it needed to close or relocate.
Since my last post, several have inquired about the next move. Perhaps with the move I will be able to spend some time at the local Burger King. I am a fan of their Mocha Joe–good stuff if you like sweetened, ice coffee. I am doubtful, though, that this will be my main hangout as it has patronage of the locals, but is not representative of their food and culture. More on this later….
One interesting, comical event from this week occurred when a friend and I were making a quick run from the house to Home Depot for some more of some important something or other to prep the new place for my family. My new neighbor’s family friend, Francisco, was outside drinking a beer. He apologized for not having more beers to share, but wanted to know if I would like to come over and share his.
We are not parting on bad terms. In fact, I appreciate how St. Arbucks has always been there for me when I could not find a quaint, local-flavor coffee shop that had a beverage that was at least as good. Though I am not a big fan of their normal coffee, I do enjoy a Starbucks frappucino, caramel macchiato, and mocha–especially with a bit of peppermint added. But my consistent patronage must end. I will still be able to come and see you from time to time when I am on the road, but no more visits in my hometown. This also goes for my other local coffee shop that has such amazing pastries. Though I may still stop by, it will be very, very rare.
As we move into another part of our town where Christ needs to be exalted among an exploding, low-income minority group, I don’t find any of your stores for miles. The roads that demarcate where my new people reside are still at least two miles from your kind, green sign. Though the future place(s) for my work on all things digital while interacting with the people on some level is not clear, I will find a spot where the language and culture reflect the people rather than my more accustomed, U.S. environment. My drink(s) of choice and normal fare will need to change as well.
Thank you Starbucks. I will see you in the future. But until then you can find me in….
- “We have to assume now that all mission is cross-cultural.” ~ Alan H
- “It’s not that the church has a mission, but the mission has a church.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- (Speaking about planting churches,) “I’m not even sure what we are trying to do the world wants.” ~ Shawn Lovejoy
- “If you do church to reach church, then you’ll reach somebody else’s Christians.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “The [Christian story] is a peasant’s movement.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “…community has to be the witness now.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “You cannot sell a Christendom approach to a post-Christian world. They are anti-Christian.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “Go among the people. Don’t assume you know what church looks like.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.” ~ Alan Hirsch
A Greek maxim that was important for Oedipus in the past and through Neo’s life in the future, “know thyself” is key to understanding and influencing future actions and outcomes. In this brief clip from one of Urban Entry’s recent DVD releases, Mark Charles–a Navajo indian–shares about the importance of understanding one’s own culture first in order to be able to communicate with integrity and effect.
It follows. If the God we serve is the missionary God, then what follows? While my last post, Non Sequitor, had 5 things that did not follow the Missio Dei, here are 7 that do. While the non-sequitur list does not include examples for obvious reasons, there are a number of good examples here. Here are some positive expressions of church that reflect the “sending of God.”
- Just do it - Some slogans transcend time because they ring true for now and other times. In athletics, Nike’s advertisers hit a home run. Some church slogans that ring true in light of the Missio Dei include Northstar’s “Don’t go to church, be the church.” This is key for a church that is awakening to the lostness around them. Another great slogan (and book) is by author Jason Dukes. His church seeks to “Live Sent” 24/7/365.
- Healthy networks – Teaching the things one has learned to others is evident in a number of networks, not the least of which is some great guys that are the Reproducing Churches Network. Multiple expressions and strategies here. Humility abounds. The message of Christ is being spread through churches that are planting churches. Through disciples that are making disciples.
- Taking it downtown – There is a movement of churches going into the heart of inner-city areas, bars, and other places where people live. Where lostness dwells. Where an incarnational witness has previously been scarce. Some expressions of this include: Redemption Hill in Richmond, Branch Life Church in Birmingham, and Evergreen in Portland. Another encouraging expression of this includes Christ Presbyterian Church where several families sold their suburban homes to move their families into inner-city Nashville to live among those they are loving and serving through a school of the arts.
- Taking it to the streets - Some have moved the church or made other radical changes. Rodney Calfee converted the children’s area of the The Downtown Church into a halfway house. Seeing people from the suburbs coming into the city for church, he realized that the population segments of downtown were not being reached with the gospel. With radical changes attendance plummeted, but God began to do amazing things in transforming lives. Matthew’s Table is an experience in community in Lebanon, TN. They meet in a coffee shop, and in homes, and wherever else along the way as they live as the church among their community.
- Sending Churches – Churches are sending people out in teams to the nations to be a blessing to communities and to seek to plant churches there. One church, LifePoint, is preparing to send multiple units comprising two teams to two different continents.
- Acoustic church - Caleb Crider with The Upstream Collective presents the “sound system rule” where a church moves toward either an attractional or missional model. Acoustic church could refer to what some call simple, organic, or house churches as well as some larger gatherings which are currently happening in other countries where Church Planting Movments (CPM) are underway. This is church with both a little more and a lot less. Some additions may include food, increased emphasis on prayer, relational discipling while also taking out lots of bells and whistles. Acoustic church is not for the glory or material enrichment of man. For some it serves as a place for the burned as well as the burned-out to have fellowship with believers. For others, however, it is a missional force. Exciting things are in the works here as a number of mega, multi-site, well-known churches are saying enough of our satellite or campus additions. Enough of us reaching a small segment of our city. Let’s go out to where the lost are and be the church among them. This is the church participating in the “sending of God.” Thanks to Neil Cole and Church Multiplication Associates for being one of the leaders in this for some time already.
- Ethnic awareness - Across the U.S. there are churches being planted for people groups from languages and countries including hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Europeans, etc. Additionally, church for skaters, surfers, cowboys, and others are encouraging. When this can coexist in one group of believers it is encouraging as well. Kudos to Mosaic and others that follow their lead.
With a strong correlation between mission results and fulfillment of the 10,000 hour rule, the reality begs the question, “Why does the correlation not hold true in all cases?” Five reasons are given in the previous post. Unpacking each a little may prove helpful. Throughout the following, it relates to a cross-cultural mission context. Additionally, all of this also relates to missional communities in the U.S. or other settings.
Moral (spiritual) failure – moral failure is commonly understood as someone being disqualified for sexual or lifestyle behaviors that are inconsistent with a mission organization’s interpretation of Scripture. Combined with this, there are times when people are choked out by the cares of this world, the difficulties of their context, etc. An event or just a stretch of time in a different context causes some to rethink their beliefs. This area covers a vast range of issues, all of which are real. This category entombs too many making them leave a mission field literally or figuratively. The individual who has put in their 10,000 hours but is struggling in this area will be unlikely to see meaningful results.
Living out or seeking to promote an ethnocentric worldview – when the bearer of the good news views the place and/or time where they came from as intrinsically better than the place and/or time where they land there are difficulties ahead. The ideal disciples and churches for the ethnocentric M will look like the place and/or time that is utterly foreign to their new context. This will limit result potential even after passing the normal time prescribed for a level of mastery.
Not investing in nationals – this category fits in many ways with the previous item in that it stems from an ethnocentric perspective. In a foreign missionary context where there are other foreign missionaries, it can be a struggle to not place primary emphasis or more on relating to other missionaries. Chances are, however, that these missionaries are already disciples of Christ. It seems to me that there are limited returns in discipling the discipled. Another challenge in this area can be relating primarily to expats that are on assignment with an embassy, international non-profit, or work assignment. A third challenge in this area includes working with nationals that are not the peoples to which one is seeking to minister. If an individual’s goal is to impact Swedes living in Stockholm, it may not be a success to have a Bible study with a Cambodian guy and Chinese lady. The person / missional community praying and working for success as they pursue their 10,000 hour level of proficiency will be honest in their evaluations and objectives or minimize their potential level of mastery that comes with experience.
Not pursuing relationships with either non-believers or with nationals that are heavily involved in the lives of non-believers – this happens too often in supposed missional endeavors. Most readers that have been involved in the evangelical church for some time have probably been in a situation before where the informal question is asked how many non-believing friends each member has. It is too easy for us to get so involved in the church that we don’t have time for those that Christ came to plant the church in the first place. So the next jump is that if we are not going to work with lost people at least we will work with believers that are going to work with lost people. (I think there are some challenges with this line of thinking, but that’s not the purpose of today’s post.) If we are going to pursue this path, then integrity requires that we do due diligence to find that the disciples we are discipling are reaching the lost. If not, a 10,000 hour investment will not have a meaningful impact on that individual’s / missional community’s level of proficiency or mastery of being missional.
Placing emphasis on supervisory responsibilities – reaching the 10,000 hours of proficiency in supervising missional endeavors is well and fine, but it is not a guarantee that the same level of mastery has been reached at doing missional activities. Ideally supervisors will have done mission in the same context in which they are supervising. However, when this is not the case, it will be helpful for the supervisor to be an encourager that is mindful and honest about his or her limitations.
Yesterday I had the privilege of being on mission with a wonderful group of people. I was amazed as this church worked to bless their community. While helping to break down the largest of the numerous tents, I asked the pastor what percent of the church participated in the event–knowing that it had to be a high number. He responded that probably about 80% of the church members were involved. One person helping had just joined the church this week.
In this missional endeavor, there was lots of sunshine, heat, blisters, language barriers, a fainting, and so much more. Raised blood pressure levels due to deadlines, roles and responsibilities, and natural mini crises were an inevitable part of the day. With so many focused on the mission, these were just speed bumps to be crossed. The purpose was so much bigger than any one person involved. The goal was for the further magnification of the glory of the Most High. As a result, this church was in partnership together way beyond the normal connotation of “community.” What they experienced through this may be more aptly labeled “communitas.”
Good job CHBC! You are a church on mission! Thanks for letting us be a part for the day!