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Missional Church article Sunday, June 25, 2006 |

Andrew McMahan recently gave me a heads up to an article at Urbana.org that gives a pretty good overview of the "missional church" conversation. The article sites some great characteristics of missional churches:
Minfred Minatrea studied a number of missional churches. He defined missional churches as "Reproducing communities of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim his kingdom in their world." He noted nine practices that they have in common (with my explanatory phrases in parentheses):

1. Having a high threshold for membership
(high expectations for believers)

2. Being real, not real religious
(being transparent, authentic, with one foot in "the world.")

3. Teaching to obey rather than to know
(a practical faith)

4. Rewriting worship every week
(Creative, participatory Sunday morning services)

5. Living apostolically
(each believer as a missionary)

6. Expecting to change the world
(aggressively engaged in transforming communities)

7. Ordering actions according to purpose.
(Ruthless aligning of resources with mission)

8. Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain.
(Not megachurches but multiplying churches)

9. Placing kingdom concerns first
(in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches)

[ read more... ]

Those are some great distinctives or, dare I say it, core values... practices that express the essence of what any body of believers with a desire to influence their culture must be about. If I were planting a church in America, this is where I would start. Are there any you would add? subtract? why?

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Friday Foto Friday, June 23, 2006 |

Spain trip 2004

This is a cathedral in Zaragoza, Spain called La Seo. I've been in and through dozens of cathedrals, and this one is by far the most breathtaking.

Keller on city ministry Thursday, June 22, 2006 |

Tim Keller has a new article out in The Movement on ministry in the new global culture of major city-centers. It's classic Keller, and worth the read for gems like this:

"Some conservative Christians think of the story of salvation like this: Fall, Redemption, Heaven. In this narrative, only saved people have anything of value (people in the world are simply blind and bad), and the purpose of redemption is escape from this world. But if the story of salvation is Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration, then things look different. Non-Christians, created in the image of God, have much wisdom and greatness within them, even though the image is defaced and fallen. Moreover, the purpose of redemption is not to escape the world but to renew it." (italics mine)

Think about that. Redemption is not just for individuals, it is also for creation, for systems, for cultures. It is not just about securing your personal fire insurance plan, it is also about securing neighborhoods, and communities, and families. It's about renewal, not escape.

[ HT - Steve McCoy ]

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City ministry and global trends Monday, June 19, 2006 |

Here's a set of links to some great articles on urban and global trends:

BBC NEWS | In Depth | Urbanization

Want to trace the past and future expansion of the world's biggest cities? Go here.

Some especially good articles:
Are Cities Growing Too Fast?
Report Reveals Global Slum Crisis
Eco-designs on Future Cities
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Attention all missional leaders Friday, June 16, 2006 |

From Missiology.org comes this humbling quote:
"As mission leaders, we have failed to foresee both the immensity of urban growth and the fact that most of the urban growth would be in squatter areas. The opportunity to save the cites from many traumas associated with this development, as well as the opportunity to establish a church in every squatter area that has formed, have been lost almost entirely"-- (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor(Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1992, 14).
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awww yeah... Wednesday, June 14, 2006 |

Wes is blogging. If you think I won't be checking it every day, you're wrong.

Sin and Shalom in the inner-city Saturday, June 10, 2006 |

Living in the inner-city of Memphis I've come to grow accustomed, almost numb, to the amount of violence, strife, sin and problems associated with our neighborhood. But this came out of nowhere. It was not even remotely anticipated.

My next door neighbor was recently arrested for raping 2 teenagers. The 2 girls live in a neighborhood not far from the suburban church where I work.

It's been a hard week for a lot of people. It came as a complete shock to all of us.

Not to mention all of the lives that have been shattered. The lives of the girls. The lives of those who know and love them. The lives of those around the accused rapist... his wife, his neighbors, his family, his friends. It's a sad, sad story all around.

And nobody wins. Nobody.

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr, professor of theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, has written an important article about Sin. He argues that sin destroys... it upsets... it disturbs... it mangles the way things should be, the way things ought to be. He then goes on to talk about this 'ought to be', this shalom, in this way:
The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is, of course, what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than just peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight, in which natural needs are satisfied, natural gifts fruitfully employed - the whole process inspiring joyful wonder as the creator and savior of all opens doors and speaks welcome. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be. ("Not the Way It's S'pposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin" in Theology Today, vol 50, No 2 - Jul 1993:182)
I'm thinking a lot about what Shalom looks like in this context. So I will end with these questions:

What does it look like for this community to flourish? For wholeness to be a norm and not the exception? How can we encourage a web, a tapestry, of fulfillment and delight in a community that seems to full of such blight? How can we, by God's grace, restore what has been broken and destroyed?

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More mission from MereMission Monday, June 05, 2006 |

From the wonderful folks at MereMission comes this quote from Leslie Newbigin:

"The concern of those who see mission primarily in terms of action for God’s justice is embodied mainly in programs carried on at a supracongregational level by boards and committees, whether denominational or ecumenical. The concern of those who see mission primarily in terms of personal conversion is expressed mainly at the level of congregational life. The effect of this is that each is robbled of its character by its separation from the other. Christian programs for justice and compassion are severed from their proper roots in the liturgical and sacramental life of the congregation, and so lose their character as signs of the presence of Christ and risk becoming mere crusades fueled by a moralism that can become self-righteous. And the life of the worshipping congregation, severed from its proper expression in compassionate service to the secular community around it, risks becoming a self-centered existence serving only the needs and desires of its members."

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