Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Point Toward Missional Community

When one gets to an airport, it is clear that the point is to get people in the air. No one expects to hang out at the ticketing area for an hour and then return home. Nor do people expect to walk up and down the halls of the terminals and then leave. But that exactly what we’ve designed churches to do. This last Sunday we had a packed house, excellent worship and a powerful message. It’s easy to look at that and think “Things are going in the right direction.” A few years ago, a church building consultant told me that if every seat in every church in Houston, Texas was filled on a Sunday that less than 20% of the population would be worshiping. If all we are doing is filling seats, then we are setting our hopes far below that of God’s hopes for the Kingdom of God.

In order to reshape the imagination of people who come to worship at your church and thereby reform their expectations of what it means to participate in God’s Kingdom, you must make it clear  that the point is to equip people to “get on the airplane.” (See previous post about how boarding a 777 is like participating in missional community.) In other words, we must create clear paths for people to move from the car to the ticket counter (New Member Orientation), from the ticket counter to the terminal (weekly worship), through the terminal (connecting groups), and from the terminal to the airplane.

From the beginning, people need to know that your church is not simply a provider of spiritual goods and services. You may have been that in the past. You may even be that right now. However, if you have a desire to move people into missional community, then you have to communicate that in small ways. You don’t need to lay out the entire vision and overwhelm people.

The two most obvious ways where this can happen are:
  1. New Member Classes: There is an incredible advantage to the a multiple class process that helps people understand your church and learn where they can get involved. The baseball diamond of Saddleback, the 101, 201, 301 process that many have adopted or a simple Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 process can clarify that you are not just a nice church where people can come and spectate. These classes are not about discipleship. They are about informing people about the journey ahead. 
  2. Preaching: Preach the Kingdom of God. Instead of preaching topically where it is too tempting to focus on your personal favorite or upon things that might tickle people’s ears and keep them comforable, do something like preach through Luke and focus on the meaning of the Kingdom of God. The average person in the pew might not yet be ready for a full understanding of what it means to live out missional community, but by simply focusing on the Kingdom of God, you will be preparing people for the radical discipleship that the Kingdom calls us to.
Point to missional community. Will everyone be ready for it? Many will only be ready for the connecting group experience. That's ok. You just need to be clear that getting connected is crucial but you have hope that people will grow and be equipped so that they can offer more to the world.

For previous entries in this series, click here. For the next entry in this series click here.


dadeaton said...

I can't believe you're not getting more love about this! 2 comments in this whole series, and one of them was deleted! You are right on track with the message of both/and. Keep it up.
One of the fears of having an underground type of movement in your church is that it will cause people to maybe break off. This is something that needs to be embraced, not feared. If your underground movement breaks off, support them as they move on and thank God that they were born out of you! If they don't break away, hopefully that means they have caused the desired changes in your plan. It's a win-win if your perspective is right.

Scott Boren said...

Thanks for input. I've written and led along this path for a few years. But now it's becoming so clear to me. But it's a relatively new approach. Most are stuck in the either/or mindset.

di said...


Andrew Mason said...

This definitely needs to be our end-game from the get-go. I think of Jesus recruiting Peter and Andrew by offering to make them "fishers of men." Jesus started and ended with mission. I can easily look at what I'm doing at my church find holes where we can emphasize the missional end-game more. This is helpful!