Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Forgotten Missional Ways 5

posted by xscot mcknight

Alan Hirsch has a mission himself: to inspire Christians and churches around the globe to become missional. His book, The Forgotten Ways, traces the DNA of missional churches (mDNA). We’ve looked at two of the six ingredients — the centrality of Jesus and a focus on disciple-making — and today we look at #3.
Missional-incarnational impulse. The word “missional” has become the darling for many, and I want to go on record here that I think this term is worth sticking on your desk to remind of what is important.
What is it? Essentially “an outwardly bound movement from one community or individual to another… a genuine missional impulse is a sending rather than attractional one” (129).
Is your church missional? Why or why not? What can we do to create more missional churches? I might ask it this way: How local is your church? Or is it just like the other churches of your denomination that happens to meet in your community? How many ministries do you have at your church that are specific to your community? Have you tried to “apply” things that work elsewhere to your community — work or not?
The attractional model is what he says characterizes Christendom. Success is measured by numerical growth, better programs, and increase in resources — this requires an attractional model. Outreach services and evangelism programs are measured by how many new folks attend church.
A missional model is incarnational. The defining moment of God’s coming to the world is the incarnation — that is how God is missional. That is, missional participates in the missio Dei, the mission of God. It was an act of identification with others, taking up residence among others, and revelation for us. Four elements of Incarnation:
1. Presence
2. Proximity
3. Powerlessness
4. Proclamation
Hirsch contends simply this: God’s missional move is to find its counterpart in our similar incarnational missional move. And he sees a good theme in 1 Cor 9:22-23: “To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.”
Incarnational ministry means (1) embedding the gospel and (2) deepening the gospel in people groups so they might become God’s people.
Another theme: Christology determines missiology; missiology determines ecclesiology. The Church is an element of missiology.
An example of an incarnational missional model is Third Place Communities. First place: home; second place: work; third place: where we spend time off. So, places like pubs, cafes, sports centers … forming communities in such places is the goal of Third Place Communities.



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hamo

posted March 1, 2007 at 3:13 am


Scot, I’d like to hear you interact with this rather than simply sumarise it.
Got time for that?!



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James Petticrew

posted March 1, 2007 at 3:44 am


I agree with Hirsch except I think I would like the pattern to be
Theology (doctrine of Trinity) –> missiology –> ecclesiology
I think a missio dei rooted in the Trinity gives a much fuller and richer understanding of mission and indeed church



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Ted Gossard

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:01 am


This is rich stuff. I’d like to read what he says about powerlessness. I take it that it is living not according to the powers of this age. So many Christians seem to take on power that is from something other than Jesus. Instead of the way of the cross. And we can do this without realizing it.
You do mention the 1 Corinthians 9 passage. To be like Jesus means to connect with people on their level, so to speak.
Good comments, too. (nothing new)
Thanks.



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michael

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:51 am


Is the missional / attractional = an either / or proposition? Can it be both / and? Certainly Jesus was sent. People were also attracted. So too in Acts 2, I would have thought – the quality of the experience, fellowship etc of the first church had a powerful attraction.



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James Petticrew

posted March 1, 2007 at 7:40 am


Michael, I agree it is both but I think there is an emphasis on one or the other. So in the OT the emphasis is on centripetal mission, the Gentiles will be drawn to Jerusalem but we have Jonah as an example of centrifugal mission. In the NT the emphasis is on centrifugal mission, the disciples are sent from Jerusalem to all nations, but still God draws people to the church, such as the fledgling Christian community in Jerusalem. I think Hirsch is right, Christendom basically used the OT centripetal form of mission which is attractional rather than the NT model which is mainly I would argue incarnational.



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Mark Perry

posted March 1, 2007 at 7:43 am


I’m with Ted on wanting to know more about powerlessness. I suspect the basis for this is Christ’s kenosis, but I’m intrigued as to how that translates to us in missional activity.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2007 at 8:29 am


Ted and Mark,
I don’t have Hirsch in front of me and won’t until much later today. Maybe someone has it and can fill us in. I don’t recall the specifics …



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michael bells

posted March 1, 2007 at 9:19 am


michael
I don’t that is a black & white either/or situation, but a matter of priority. Here’s my take:
A missional-focused church will be attractional as a side effect.
An attractional-focused church will tend to treat mission as a program.



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April

posted March 1, 2007 at 9:50 am


For awhile I thought the incarnational and attractional could co-exist in one church. I’ve come to think differently now. Here’s my experience:
My husband and I helped plant a church a few years ago. It began as a missionally-minded community – at least we talked that way. After four years of stagnant numerical growth (70ish people) we brought in a so-called church-growth expert. I was skeptical, but we were desperate, so what harm could come in hearing what this guy had to say? He told us our standards for discipleship were too high and that we needed to “put the cookies on a lower shelf” (his exact words) so new people wouldn’t be intimidated. He said our church would grow as a result. The lead pastor and others on the team took his advice and went that direction.
Eventually the shift in priority led to my husband and I leaving that community. Everything was about programs and money for more programs. Incidentally, in the past year and a half since adopting the lower-shelf-cookie-model the church hasn’t grown in numbers much, if at all. Before we put the cookies on a lower shelf, I think we were growing, just not in the way church growth is typically measured. But since we were trying to be both incarnational and attractional there was a tension and frustration.



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Bob

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:00 am


Is your church missional? Why or why not? What can we do to create more missional churches? I might ask it this way: How local is your church? Or is it just like the other churches of your denomination that happens to meet in your community? How many ministries do you have at your church that are specific to your community? Have you tried to “apply” things that work elsewhere to your community — work or not?
With all due respect, these are absolutely terrible questions. I agree with Hirsch’s progression Christology-Missiology-Ecclesiology. If we’re going to “generate” (a bad word in itself) mDNA, we have to stop asking questions like the above that can only come when you look at the progression in reverse.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:05 am


The missional-attractional proposition.
Are we trying to say that it is either a “both/and” or an “either/or proposition?
The either/or does seem to emerge, doesn’t it!?:)
The fact is that Christ is building his political entity of Choice, the Ekklesia, for the benefit of Himself & His People. Christ has not called on us to build communities within or coopt any part of the World. Christ calls the lost out of the world into a new political allegiance, Himself. He alone defines this Political Entity and all aspects of it. Nowhere are we allowed to impute our own aspirations or goals to it.
The idea that the Church being Missional is new and innovative or that it is simply a return to biblical foundations is misguided at best. Spontaneous complexity out of simplicity, all based on the gathering, formation & creative genuis of community is simply a rehash of man’s love of Himself & his desire to redefine God & His Word in the image of man.
The language and modus operandi of Missional Emerging has been around for a long time. It is simply one aspect of the World system’s goal of creating global community through intentional dialogue to consensus and assimilation into that predetermined consensus.
Many are caught up in this open mission to coopt true faith in Jesus Christ. Are we?



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Julie Clawson

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:05 am


April #9 – I understand about the tension issue. In our church plant we are trying to be missional, but our church planting group sees numbers and money as success, so we live in that tension. We played at “attractional church” for a bit at first until we all agreed that what we were doing was fake. We just trying to act like something we weren’t in order to look good to outsiders. So while we still do a few attractional things – advertise, throw parties, we try not to compromise who we are as a church to do so. Of course that means we are still small while the video campus of a popular church that recently planted in town is up to three services already.



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RJS

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:15 am


You know – if church has a dual career pastor structure and no staff or facilities, money doesn’t matter too much. It will also, of necessity have many of the features Hirsch seems to be championing.
If a church has a “full time” pastor or leader, money does and will matter. It is not so much money as a measure of “success” as money to be a self-supporting enterprise with resources for mission. A plant can only rely on its “parents” so long in general.



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michael bells

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:24 am


If the tension is this difficult to manage in a church plant, is there much hope for an existing church to transistion to a missional focused church? Alan Roxburgh in The Missional Leader says only when the church recognized the complexity of it’s crisis – i.e. it’s not a crisis that can be fixed by the application of a given set of church solutions.



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Jennifer

posted March 1, 2007 at 11:06 am


Ted / Mark,
On Powerlessness Hirsch says…
“In becoming ‘one of us’ God takes on the form of a servant and not that of someone who rules over us (Phil 2:6, Luke 22 : 25 – 27). He does not stun us with sound and laser shows, but instead he lives as a humble carpenter in backwater Galiee for thirty years before activating his messianic destiny. In acting thus he shuns all normal notions of coercive power and demonstrates for us how love and humility (powerlessness) reflect the true nature of God and are the key means to transform human society” p. 132
Personally, I find this to be a very attractive. And, in my opinion, this is where a lot of churches/pastors really miss it because it’s the hardest of the 4 and requires the most maturity.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 11:07 am


There seems to be a common denominator to these problems being discussed. Many of the answers which are attempted to be applied to the situation are non biblical in nature. In other words, the Scripture hasn’t really been consulted to find out how to proceed. Or it has been esentially ignored.
It seems that, in Jesus’ name, we leave Jesus in the margins when it comes to how to operate the Ekklesia, the one He’s building. We seem to be busy building our own idea of His Ekklesia, the one that seems to make the most sense to us.
For example, the issue of money which has been brought up. Money is not the issue. Being full time is not a sin. Many in the NT were full time. “Ministry” was all they did. Yes, they needed money for that, just as we do today. The problem is allowing money to be a focus to the extent that we get away from applying the bulk of those funds to the true needs of the Body, the true Temple of God, instead of paying for and maintaining an expensive building. Within that framework, many true needs go unmet. In many cases, the needs are never made known because the needy and others know that they are considered low priority, if a priority at all.
Furthermore, the fact that the problem may never be addressed is partial cause for many to react in a way that is unbiblical. The problem is never really understood from a true biblical perspective and, therefore, the answers are never really grasped. Other methods of addressing the issues are chosen, which, I said earlier, make natural sense to us.
As I teach my children,”Just because someone else chooses to do wrong to you doesn’t give you the right to also choose to do wrong.” We are always responsible for our actions, regardless of the context.
Missional, as foundational as it is to Emerging, is no different. Just because it sounds good and just because some Scripture is used to support it, and just because it seems to be the same as Christ’s mission, doesn’t give us license to apply it to Christ’s Ekklesia. Scripture reveals that the Ekklesia has never been part of the community of this present World. It never will be! It was never meant to be!:)



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Bob

posted March 1, 2007 at 11:21 am


The whole idea of church planting perplexes me and again goes against Hirsch’s progression.
IMO, the progression would play out like this: a Christ-follower, driven by the principles of Jesus Creed, seeks to live as a blessing to their community. They participate in community development activities. They learn to identify what “oppression and injustice” look like in their context and actively try to remedy these situations.
As necessary, the Spirit will organize a network of like-minded others around this person for mutual encouragement and edification (this may come through contacts in the community or it may come through participation in an existing non-missional church–there are missional folks everywhere). These folks by definition will share similar mDNA–not identical since each context is unique.
Out of that organization springs a gathering (ecclesia). But the ecclesia exists in a subordinate role to the pre-existing missiology. If the Spirit deconstructs the network, the mission does not fail, the ecclesia merely passes through a season of lesser importance.
Personally, I’m still learning the face of injustice in my context and expectantly awaiting the manifestation of a supporting ecclesia. An important factor in this is: the place where you worship on Sunday mornings may or may not be this mDNA-based ecclesia.
Thinking this way, I’m unsure where the concept of “church planting” comes in.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 11:45 am


Another exapmple is the issue of “Powerlessness.” The idea is given that Christ, in coming in the form or a servant (powerlessness) demonstrating love and humilty, reflected His true nature by “shunning all notions of coercive power.” Actually, by coming in the form of a servant and waiting 33 years to activiate hie Mesainic destiny, Jesus acknowledged the reality of coercive power. His Father demanded a certain standard for all access to Himself; Perfection. Only by coming and fulfilling that standard Himself was it made possible for man to access Him. If Jesus had not met the coercive standard set by His Father. God would be required to coercively and ultimately prevent man from Himself. Just as He set the angel at the entrance of Eden to coecively prevent anyone from entering.
And God has this tendency to react the same when it comes to demonstrating His Holiness, even under the NT. Choices bring coercive consequences. Just ask Annanias and Saphira. Just ask the ones in 1 Corinthians who were currently sick or had already died because of their irreverence toward their remembrance of the Lord’s death.
Part of the significance in Jesus taking the form of a servant is that God follows His own Laws. He doesn’t ignore them just because of the mission or because of utilitarian methodology. He shuns any notion of the coercive use of power outside of His own Nature. His power, coercive or not, always abides within His own Law. The law is always, for the sinner, coercive. For the saint, though, it is instructive, for it informs us of the type of actions the Holy Spirit will help us to perform for HIs glory, a standard already met in Christ.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:08 pm


Bob,
What questions about Missional would you like to see posed?



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Bob

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:36 pm


Benjamin,
I guess the question would have to follow the progression and would have to spring from the foundation of one’s Christology.
You have been called by Christ who has begun the work of sanctification in you. How then will you live? What will your relationship be to God? To others? To the world you inhabit? What kind of “legs” does the life Jesus describes in the Bible have?
Clearly, the starting point is not trying to identify a “project” in which to invest yourself. The starting point is increase your sensitivity to the rhythms of life in your context (Proximity) then count on God to reveal His Hand (Presence). He will produce (our Powerlessness) the life you are to live (Proclamation).



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:16 pm


Benjamin Bush Jr.
I am curious. Beyond these posts and comments, have you read the book? It will help me understand your points better knowing one way or another. Again, just curious.
Peace,
Jamie



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:25 pm


Bob,
I understand your questions and where they come from.
But I wonder if the emphasis centers on man. Shouldn’t we start with God Himself? What is His relationship to us? What is His will for Me? What would He have me to do? Where would He have me to go? What would He have me to say? What kind of “legs” does he give me?
Isn’t it really about His Proximity, His Presence, His Power, His Proclamation?
Do we seem to be focused on ourselves a little too much? Do we have trouble living the type of life whereby Jesus instructs us to “deny self”? In this way, don’t we identify with Christ instead of identifying with those around us? Isn’t that what lifting up Christ in order to draw all men to Him is all about. Isn’t understanding others all about presenting the true Jesus, who demands that the world come to Him? Are we to imbed Jesus in the world or does Jesus call the world to come to Him? Did Jesus die for the world so that He could be imedded in their systems and organizations? Or did He instead call them to the Ekklesia, His system and organization? Did Jesus encourage us to coopt Empire or to call out from Empire to a new and separate national community?
The important questions aren’t really about us or Church or World or anything or anyone else. It is about God alone. Appearing to begin with God may be nothing more than that, an appearance. But of course, the Word helps us to understand and discern between appearance and substance.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Jamie,
No, I have not read the book, nor have I read any other Emerging book. I have also not read any book against Emerging.
I understand the “potential” implications in your question. The idea may be that because I haven’t read the book I cannot comment or pass any type of judgement on it or any portion of it. I admit that their can be a certain amount of truth to that presumption, depending on particulars.
In this case, though, I rely mainly on Scripture and its application to what Emerging material I’ve read.
First, as much as Emerging likes to present itself as new and innovative, it is not. It simply couches old ideas and methodology within new or the latest terminology. Or they may simply utilize the accepted terminology to present their old ideas.
Second, the younger generations or the marginalized are more likely drawn to such ideas, seeing that their experience is limited in every respect.
Third, such movements always are presented as “open” to conversation, ideas and methods, traditions, etc. Ultimately, they are not.
Fourth, such movements are presented as an alternative to the existing power base, in this case, religion. Grassroots is an important term. Actually, the same type of heirarchies are present, just not as visible. There are great pains taken to give the appearance of bottom up ledership. Once again, youthful exuberance tends to miss this.
Have I somehow stated lies. I don’t think so. For the serious Child of God, patience in matters of faith and practice are required. Jumping to conclusions is not an option. Fiduciary duty to Christ and His Word demand study, research and meditation, from which comes Wisdom knowledge and understanding of those issues which give a certain appearance.



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Julie Clawson

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm


I always find it amusing how many people don’t think my vocation should exist or that I should be allowed to earn a living for doing it. But that’s a whole other discussion…
Bob #17 – your ideas sound all nice, organicy and stuff. more power to you in actually finding that. As a church planter, I don’t want to be surrounded by people who are already exactly like me. We are missional and out there in the world. But we also see a need to steer those already in the faith towards being missional as well. That involves teaching and coming alongside and playing along with some of the cultural expectations of church. We of course hold those things lightly , but see them as tools that help us guide people into being full followers of Christ.



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Bob

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Ouch, Julie.



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Jennifer

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Benjamin,
You do bring out a good point…a person who is loving and humble ultimately has more power than a person who is overtly trying to use power to control or manipulate. I think what this book is trying to say is that we do far better to influence people through humility and love (what he calls powerlessness) than through heavy-handedness.
I know that’s true in my life…the people who love me and are committed to me have an open door to humbly speak into my life. But if someone was just trying to influence me through their power, I would resist it at several different levels.
Does that help?



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Warren Rachele

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:33 pm


There is a key section that lies just a few paragraphs further (pg 133) from Hirsch’s Presence,Proximity, Powerlessness, Proclamation points where he says “The fact that God was in the Nazarene neighborhood for thirty years and no one noticed should be profoundly disturbing to our normal ways of engaging mission.” He goes on to substantiate the importance of becoming a part of the culture’s fabric before trying to engage it with the gospel.
The attractional model in which we call people to come to us where they can hear the truth that we posses is counter to the prevailing culture. The missional church must integrate itself into the community and, through relationship with them, earn the right to share the truth with them.
Our planting team has struggled with this concept because it is so foreign to all that they have been through before. There are glimmers of hope in each community encounter though, so we bank on the fruit of patience.



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Brad Brisco

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:39 pm


Scot, thanks again for working your way through this book.
The second theme that you mention; Christology which determines our Missiology which determines our Ecclesiology, (also in Shaping of Things to Come) has had a significant influence in my church planting work. The reality is that in most church planting efforts we have gotten this backwards.
However, I agree with James in comment #2 that a better place to start is with “Theology” or “The Triune Nature of God” rather than Christology. In doing so I believe we start with a more communal, relational foundation.



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Brad Brisco

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:48 pm


I REALLY like Hirsch’s words on p. 133 of this chapter when he states:
“The Incarnation not only qualifies God’s acts in the world, but must also qualify ours. If God’s central way of reaching his world was to incarnate himself in Jesus, then our way of reaching the world should likewise be incarnational. To act incarnatinally therefore will mean in part that in our mission to those outside of the faith we will need to exercise a genuine identification and affinity with those we are attempting to reach. At the very least, it will probably mean moving into common geography/space and so set up a real and abiding presence among the group.”
This statement reminds me of John 1:14 in The Message:
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”



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RJS

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:51 pm


Warren,
I haven’t read Hirsch’s book – but my initial reaction to your quote from his book “The fact that God was in the Nazarene neighborhood for thirty years and no one noticed should be profoundly disturbing to our normal ways of engaging mission” is that this is totally irrelevant.
Jesus was playing a central role without precedent and role that will never be repeated.
Our earliest model for mission is not Jesus – but Paul and Peter and the other apostles, disciples and followers. They do provide something of a model for integrating into community, but also for aggressive mission and evangelism from “day one”



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alan hirsch

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:14 pm


RJS, I could not agree with you less. I think (putting the unique aspects of Jesus ministry aside) that Jesus provide us with the singularly most compelling model of mission. And I am reminded that at the heart of what it means to be a Christian is to become like Jesus in all ways.
As to the issues re the Trinity, I do not wish to diminish Trinitatian theology in any way, however, TFW focusses on the form of theology that energizes exponential movements, and I have to say that in my view it is largely Christology that informs them. Quite simply they have had to distill their theology down to its very epicenter. In the book I call this the ‘gift of persectution’ because it helps them to recover the central message of the faith. It is an uncluttered message.



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Julie Clawson

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:15 pm


hey Bob, I totally didnt intend to me mean there – just to highlight different approaches and the need for those different approaches.



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Brad Brisco

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Alan
Thanks for the comment on Trinitarian theology. I very much like the section on distilling the message down to “survive in the context of persecution” to a simple Christology that reflects the essentials of who Jesus is what he does. As you said this is really a “Jesus movement.”



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:25 pm


Jennifer,
I’ll attempt to provide an answer to your question with a personal illustration.
Several years back, it was arranged with the present teacher of the Sunday School class I was a member of to take over the teaching duties of that Class because he was going into another ministry within the church. The class knew about this as well as others.
Within a week before assuming duties, I was informed by the teacher that I would not be allowed to teach the class. I grinned widely, because I knew what was happening. I asked him the reason for me not being allowed to teach. He said it was because I did not tithe. I told the teacher that I did indeed tithe, but never made a point to make a record of it (for this very reason. If I was ever to be a Pastor, I shouldn’t have to look at a person’s record of giving to know if he or she is qualified.). I knew where the decision originated, so I worked my way up the chain of command until I sat before the pastor. Needless to say, I would not be allowed to teach the class unless and until I could personally promise the pastor that I would fulfill every criteria he laid down (to the letter). There were quite a few of them, many, many more than that required of all other teachers. I wasn’t going to lie to Him, nor was I going to violate Scripture by promising to do so. I simply told Him that I could attempt to do all those things, but I could not promise that I would be able to fulfill them all. Alas, I was not allowed to teach the class.
When it was learned what had happened, several people came to me and asked me what was going on. I could give them nothing more than what had been officially told to me. Some were angry and I had to tell them the following.
“You’re right about this not being right. But if, as Romans 13 says, all authority is ordained by God, then that would apply to the Pastor as well. It also says that those who resist or oppose that God ordained authority bring judgment on themselves. So who am I to resist that which God has placed in authority. They will give account for their actions, I will give account for mine.”
I tried to allow this experience to put my course more fully in the hands of God. In no way did I draw back when it came to Truth or following Scripture. I never went out of my way to cause trouble, even though some thought I did on occasion. But I chose certain times to address certain problems, usually when I or someone else in my family was affected negatively. That kept me busy enough without having to create situations.
Was I powerless in those situations. Absolutely not! Even though I was not allowed to occupy a certain position, which the church leaders had every right to administer, I was in full authority as a Child of God and Overseer of my Family. Both me and the Pastor were exercising authority which had specific bounds. Was I powerless to occupy that teaching position in these circumstances. Yes. But was I powerless to exercise that same teaching authority given to me by God in relation to my family? No. Was the Pastor powerless to exercise authority within the confines of my family in these circumstances? Yes! And he knew he was.
Was I intimidated? No. Was I influenced? No. Was I manipulated? No. Did I resist? No. I understood the parameters. I believe I learned far more through this experience than if I had taught the class. Heavyhanded? Yes, but God was not prevented from revealing Himself to me nor was he prevented from conforming me more into His image through it.
Understanding these parameters and the exercise of power while in this world is crucial to living out the will of God in our lives. The power of God is given to those who receive Him. John 1:12.
BTW, A few verses before it says that Jesus moved into the hood, it also says that He came to his own Hood and His own Hood Dissed Him. Did we forget to mention that? Are we to take that as failure to identify on the part of Jesus?



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RJS

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:36 pm


Alan,
Somehow your comment doesn’t surprise me. I think that Jesus taught about mission and modelled it in very important ways. Certainly in dining with “sinners” and outcasts as well as in other very important ways.
But the implication of the quote is that the apostles were wrong and we, in evangelism and mission, should follow Jesus rather than Paul (or Peter or …). This seems to me to be missing the point. Paul etc. were in situations most nearly resembling our own. And post resurrection they most decidely were not unnoticed in any neighborhood for 30 years.



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Brad Brisco

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:47 pm


Benjamin
Yes he was “dissed” by some in His “neighborhood” but MANY who were not like Jesus, like Jeusus. MANY were drawn to Him as he moved into the neighborhood. Like wise as we live incarnationally in our neighborhoods, entering into the lives of others as we serve, love on, minister to, and speak the truth into their lives SOME will reject us, but I believe MANY will be, or should be drawn to the one we follow.



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Ted Gossard

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:59 pm


Jennifer (#15) and Scot (#7), thanks.
Jennifer, That for me is also attractive. Really, we often don’t think enough about the entire lifetime of Jesus here. What a humble trek he took. He really lived out what he taught. Even in human eyes of his day, he really was unremarkable if I read these lines in Isaiah 53 correctly:
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
And we’re to follow in his way.



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Sam Carr

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Organic division was mooted as a very biblical application of how the NT body grew. The logic went something like; the earliest fellowships were house based. When they outgrew a house, the fellowship would divide into two and a 2 ‘new’ fellowships in 2 houses would again start to grow. No one fellowship keeps expanding but the body grows, remains intimate and without strain penetrates new neighborhoods.
In the 1980’s I visited with a small congregation of around 12 families that had come out of a larger denomination and were taken with the “organic division model”. They had decided that when they got to 20 families, they would divide into 2 fellowships. The pastor was very enthusiastic. I dropped in again after 3 years and found, to my surprise, a congregation of around 200 people all worshiping together. They were renting a school hall for meetings and the hot topic was ‘the building program”.
It’s hard not to institutionalise. Institutions have their own viral DNA that hijacks missions.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Brad,
The Book says that His own people rejected Him. Yes, a very small fractional minority accepted Him. As a whole, and officially, they rejected Him.
You’re right about many in the hood being attracted to Him. Healings and miracles will do that, but it didn’t prevent him from being hated by the hood and hung on a cross.
Alan,
If Christology informs the theology which energizes exponential Jesus movements, especially spurred by persecution, then the words of Jesus cannot be ignored.
In John 15:20, Jesus, talking to his disciples says, 20. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21. But all these things will they do unto you because they know not him that sent me………………23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24………….but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father………….26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”
According to this and much more Scripture, but especially the words of Christ, Trinitarian Deity energizes our life before the world. Trinitarian was the form of theology which energized Him and, according to Jesus, would energize His followers, especially in the midst of persecution. In fact, according to Jesus, persecution is a directlt tied to Trinity. To think otherwise is to reject the very words of Christ. Surely we are not expected to do such a thing, are we?



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alan hirsch

posted March 1, 2007 at 9:15 pm


JJS (#35) I highlighting the role of Jesus as model I don’t intend to dimiss Pauline (or other) models of mission. Later in the book we will look at Pauline models of apostolicity. So please don’t read me as dismissing Paul. I simply wish to re-instate the primary role that Jesus has in shaping the church and her mission.



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alan hirsch

posted March 1, 2007 at 9:20 pm


Sorry that was RJS not JJS.
Brad (#33). What interests me here Brad is that we so easily replace Jesus’ centrality once we settle down. And again, I don’t wish to be misunderstood here, but we have at times developed a rather complex religion of Trinitarianism to take Jesus’ place. As you will know (you have read TFW) the result of this is to make the maessage clunky, complex, dense, and inherently untransferable. Rapid exponential movements tend to travel ‘lighter’ than this. And my point is that we need to recover something of this ethos in our day.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:11 pm


Alan,
I realize that we Texans can be rather intimidating, but we have our moments of accomodation. So don’t be shy.
If you need to, make that “down under” coffee strong and black, pull up a chair………and spit it out. I’ve survived rattlers, I can survive you.
You have yet to deal with the Trinitarian language of Jesus in the midst of His rapidly paced missional movement. Does the language of Jesus create a burden which becomes inherently untransferrable to his disciples and their task of spreading this movement? Or do they continue the heaviness by perpetuating the language of Trinity into the known world?
You seem to place the responsibility of Trinitarianism on Post Apostolic institutions, mostly on Post Constantinian Institutions. Would this not be a matter of taking the words of Jesus to excess? In response to that, do we eliminate Trinitarian truth altogether? Or do we just return to the true clarity of Trinity within the context of the mission of Jesus and his disciples as revealed by the actual words of Jesus?



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Brad Brisco

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:30 pm


Alan
Thanks for the dialogue here and thanks for your work, I find it a great blessing.
While I believe an understanding of the triune nature of God leads us towards a more relational perspective in all areas of the Christian life, I do agree with your “transferable/travel light” proposition. Again, it is a the core of what a Jesus movement is all about.
Ben
I was thinking about Mark 2:15 and Matthew’s party:
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, MANY tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were MANY who followed him.”
There were many who were not at all like Jesus who were drawn to Him, and I like to think it was not just because of the miracles.



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Jennifer

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:51 pm


Benjamin #34
I just wanted to acknowledge you sharing part of your story. And I wanted to respond to say I appreciated hearing some of yoru journey.
But for me to respond would take us wildly off topic here. Maybe we’ll get to it another time. I just wanted you to know that I read it.



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alan hirsch

posted March 2, 2007 at 12:27 am


Ben, I think that all I am proposing (how’s that for a qualification :-) ) is that we return to the more primative trinitarianism of the bible itself, rather than frontload with the more complex thinking formulas later on. Does that make sense?



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Sam Carr

posted March 2, 2007 at 4:00 am


I’m really hoping that Alan and those who are with him in promoting being missional will be successful. The ideas have been around for a long time and in part at least explain the popularity of older alternatives such as the explosion of parachurch organizations in the 70s and 80s, but the theological foundation was just not there then.
Now, I do believe that the Holy Spirit is pushing us and equipping us to get back to more truly biblical patterns of obedience to our Lord and to building His kingdom.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted March 2, 2007 at 10:16 am


Alan,
I must confess that it doesn’t make sense.
I was under the distinct impression that one of the common aspects of Emerging was spontaneous complexity from the simplicity of chaotic communitas.
Now you’re suggesting that we throw off the current organic Trinitarian complexities because??????………….they are too complex?…………and return to chaotic simplicity of Christological communitas?
Why should this be the procedure? Why should we currently abandon that which we are going to eventually reestablish? Why should we deconstruct and reduce in order to rebuild the same or similar structure? This sounds like the current economic climate in which much economic activity is nothing more than “busy ness” for the sake of “busyness”. It goes on the record as economic activity, but is a charade, an artificial support for an inherently weak ponzi scheme. It is, simply, rehash.
Or am I somehow missing the identification of the structure meant to be built? If this is the case, please let me know.



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Tim Hallman

posted March 2, 2007 at 10:48 pm


Our church is located within a neighborhood that lacks an abundance of money, resources, education, energy and networks. So we’ve never really had the opportunity to become an attractional church. Not that we haven’t tried. So much of the church health material tends in this direction. We couldn’t recruit enough teachers/leaders to maintain programs. We couldn’t hire full-time staff up front to start new programs. And I committed as a pastor never to use guilt to motivate people to do stuff. I encouraged them to volunteer for whatever they wanted to do. Which they took me up on. Which also meant that we had to focus on encouraging them to do ministry where they lived, worked, and played rather then exclusively at our facility. And I’m pleased with the way people are moving in that direction.
We’re also starting some neat neighborhood initiatives with four other churches (Presbyterian, UMC, Church of Christ and Mennonite). A very local direction. Our small church is thrilled about partnering with other small neighborhood churches to find creative, relevant ways to bring the gospel to all the homes in our area. And though I haven’t made time yet to read Alan’s book, the blog entries about it are encouraging to me and the direction of our neighborhood church friends.



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Brad Brisco

posted March 2, 2007 at 10:58 pm


Tim
Good for you and your church, thanks for sharing.



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Anonymous

posted March 4, 2007 at 10:08 am


Jesus Creed » Jesus Creed welcomes Creekers

[...] Lead pastor at Willow Creek, Gene Appel, mentioned this blog in his talk this weekend so I want to welcome Willow Creekers to the conversations that occur on this blog. A brief introduction to Jesus Creed: we talk about Jesus, about Christian theology, about books we are reading, and about issues — some of them controversial. We pride ourselves on this blog for creating a safe place for conversation. We often disagree; we often state our views sharply; but we don’t insult one another. We are now doing a few series: on a “missional church life,” letters to emerging Christians, and whether catastrophes are God’s judgment or not, and on spiritual disciplines as community (not just individual, personal) endeavors … and so many other things come. Join us. (If some terms get a little stuffy, check out our Bloglossary in the Sidebar to your right.) [...]



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