Posts Tagged missional

Sunday Worship Attendance

Tony Morgan has a series of blog posts about declining attendance in Sunday worship services, and I found it interesting:

Part 1: Panic at the Church: Dealing with Less Frequent Attendance Patterns

Part 2: How One Church Leans In to Less Frequent Attendance

Part 3: Church Attendance Decline? There’s a Problem with Your Product.

Part 4: Large Church Gatherings Are a Strategy, Not the Mission

Part 5: Why You Might Not Want People In Church Every Sunday

It’s well worth reading. Part three is tough, especially for people in church leadership, but part four is just plain thought-provoking.

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Best Tim Tebow Article

I don’t follow football very closely, but as a former Coloradoan, it was good to see Tebow shake things up with those come-from-behind wins most of this past fall.

And after the win last week against the Steelers, it’s been impossible to miss all the coverage. There’s a new/old song about him, the inevitable Hitler/Downfall parody, and an incredible number of articles debating whether he’s as awesome as his fans think he is, or just “fool’s gold.” But this article by Rick Reilly is the best one I’ve seen:

I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Read the whole thing.

(And if you’re curious, the Atlantic has a good article by Owen Strachan that addresses the really important question: Does God Care Whether Tim Tebow Wins on Saturday?)

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Radical Reformission

I just finished reading Mark Driscoll’s Radical Reformission. He’s right on about the missional character of the church and some of the things that prevent us from being faithful to that calling. It’s also very enjoyable reading.

The problem with my pastoral job is that I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I read every book I can find and I cling to the Bible like a kid who can’t swim but somehow found a life preserver in the middle of the ocean.

I feel that way. A lot.

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One Hundred Years

A hundred years ago, leaders of the major Protestant denominations and missionary societies met in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the World Mission Conference. Historians of the church mark this conference as the beginning (or rather, the formal recognition) of the modern ecumenical movement. Churches had come to see that if they could cooperate on the mission field overseas, they should also be able to do so back home.

The theme of the 1910 World Mission Conference was “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation.” Everyone in the world would have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and choose whether to become a follower before that generation had passed away.

Well. Two World Wars later, after a Cold War and a Great Depression, after decolonialization in the developing world and societal upheaval in the developed, that goal may be somewhat closer, but we seem, a hundred years later, to be in no danger of attaining it in a single generation.

One thing has changed for the better. Today, we know who the target is. A hundred years ago, they said “the world” but they meant “distant lands full of heathens.” Today, we know better: Christendom is dead-if it ever existed-and the mission field is just as ripe next door as it is across the planet.

During that same year, 1910, the United Presbyterian Church of North America (a predecessor of our denomination) adopted what it called the Great Ends of the Church:

The great ends of the church are (1) the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; (2) the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; (3) the maintenance of divine worship; (4) the preservation of the truth; (5) the promotion of social righteousness; and (6) the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

It’s not a bad list, but we sure can be selective in advancing those ends. For example, the greatest part of our budget goes to #3: divine worship, led by myself and our choir director. The bulk of your volunteer effort goes to #2: fellowship and congregational care. The 4th and 5th ends — truth and social righteousness — need not be in conflict, but it’s a very rare church (or denomination) that is able to hold the two in balance. Generally, what we do is choose one or the other, and then say bad things about Christians who pick the other one.

And that leads us to #1 and #6. How serious are we about proclaiming the gospel to people who’ve never heard it? How much thought to do we give to exhibiting the Kingdom of Heaven to the world?

Especially since we now realize “the world” is next door. It’s across the street and down the block. It’s the grocery store and the gas station. It’s all over. “The world” is everywhere. How well are we doing in evangelizing it? Does it even know we’re here?

Those conferees in Edinburgh a hundred years ago wanted to evangelize the world. They didn’t realize how much of the world needed to be evangelized, but they were willing to try.

Let’s try, too. Let’s not let our church be defined by just one or two of the Great Ends of the Church. Let’s maintain divine worship and nurture the children of God, by all means. But let’s not forget to tell people about Jesus, or to exhibit his Kingdom to them, either.

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Home From My Retreat

What do you call it when you come back from a retreat? — an attack?

Serra Retreat Center

Well, technically, I wasn’t on a retreat. I was at the 2010 Academy of Missional Preaching (Southwest). But it was held at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, and there were retreat-ish aspects to it. If you needed to work on a sermon, you could go sit in a garden like the one above and think about what you were trying to say. It was a pretty harsh existence, but we must all be prepared to sacrifice for the Kingdom. 🙂

Of course, it was not only about preaching, it was about missional preaching. (Missional is the idea that the church exists as an instrument used in God’s mission to the world. See John 20:21, Acts 1:8, etc.) In addition to preaching, we also got to hear various speakers including John Dally (Choosing the Kingdom) and Darrell Guder (Missional Church).

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Encountering the Culture

Then he went about among the villages teaching.
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two.
Mark 6:6-7

In AD 100, the worldwide total number of Christians might have been about 25,000. For the next two centuries, Christianity was an an illegal religion, and endured several waves of violent persecution. It had no trained clergy, nor any church buildings as we know them. But in the early 300’s, when Christianity was finally legalized, the number of Christians was about 20 million.

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