Terry began by recommending the outstanding biography of John Newton written by Jonathan Aitkin. I have listened to the CD version and enjoyed it immensely. I join Terry in commending it strongly to you. Terry also recommended two books by Christopher Wright on being missional.
Mark Driscoll began by returning to the marks of a spirit-filled church. He again explained to us that he believes we have been faithful in the mission. He feels, however, that perhaps we could see more fruitfulness. He is convinced that we can grow more quickly and be more effective at reaching people for Christ.
As he began, I was very impressed that, as he prayed, he asked the Holy Spirit to guard his words, his attitude, and his tone.
Here, then, is Driscoll’s eight-point definition of the Church. Some of these constitute the being, and others the well-being of the Church.
- Regenerated Church Membership
This is, he believes, THE strength of Newfrontiers based on what he has seen. In particular, Driscoll said it is very important to hold the line on male eldership. To oppose this position is very popular among those who are not successful. You have to approach the Scriptures differently to come to the opposite position. One of the reasons Newfrontiers is strong, argues Driscoll, is because of our commitment to male elders. If we ever compromise on that issue, we will find our blessing will diminish. Continue to hold that line. To change it changes everything—how families are organized, etc. Church life sets the pattern for home life. We need pastor-dads who are shepherds to their own flock at home. Keep holding that line!!
He feels he is learning a lot from us on worship. (See also what he said on his blog about Newfrontiers.)
Church discipline is critical. Church discipline is correction, not retribution, just the same as in the family. Not to destroy someone, but to persuade them not to continue in sin. Don’t preach one thing and fail to enforce it.
If definitions 1 through 7 are not present, you cannot do mission because unity isn’t there. Prayer and worship and fellowship can be so much loved that we somehow just trust that the work will get done. Since we also believe God is sovereign, we tend to let him figure it out. Because we are charismatics, we tend to think the Spirit will figure it out. Truth is, we need a plan, and a more intentional one. We will see some growth without an intentional plan because we’re healthy, but if we are intentional about it we will grow faster.
God will be glorified by making disciples. Don’t have a branch of church called the “Mission Department.” We have to have ALL branches of our churches being missional. So kids work is about discipleship of kids, etc. We want our children to be on a mission with us, too.
There was a missionary in India, and he discovered upon his return that London had become just as pagan as India was. He realized that the churches didn’t think they needed to be missional themselves. If you are a Christian, you tend to become assimilated into the subculture of the church. Take all our missional thinking and be missionaries in the West.
Some people think of church as a bomb-shelter. You can identify this by lots of “we and them” language. Here you will find lots of preaching against the culture, not engagement with it. You will find people who share your values and protect your kids. There is no attempt to evangelize. This is classic fundamentalism.
Other people see church as a mirror. This is classic liberalism. Gender issues is a classic current example. If the culture is for an issue, the church then compromises and mirrors what is in the culture. No attempt is made to redeem the culture. They may be more aware, but in the end they are less helpful.
Some see church as a parasite. They enter the culture to take out of it for themselves. There is no real giving. They want to benefit from what happens, but not do for them. Ask non-Christians what they think of the church. Their answer will be—no serving the poor, no helping, no doing good, and taking, not contributing.
Some see church as a city within a city—a city on a hill. The Church is the city of God within the city of the world. Here the Church loves Jesus, believes the Bible, practices grace, and the power of God is made known. The people live differently within the culture. They are not antagonistic or negative, but live an alternative life style. They invite others to join in this life style.
Driscoll then began to identify the twelve aspects of a missional church.
First, a missional church sees the church as a missional outpost—with a view for growth. We have a weakness in Newfrontiers, in Driscoll’s view, which is a fear of multiple services. More options means more people can be reached. Multiple services should become a goal. People can tend to define the church by the number of people in a room at one time. But it should be defined by the number of people on a mission, even if they are never in a room together. Can have multiple campuses. Can have one church in more than one location as a second form of church planting. A missional church does church plant. We should set aside money specifically for church planting. At least 10 per cent of church funds at Acts 29 churches go to church planting.
Second, a missional church sees every Christian as a missionary. Cares for those with whom they come in contact. Pays attention to getting out and reaching out. Needs their people to be good theologians and good apologists. Sets things up so people natur
ally bring their non-Christian friends to church. Shares the gospel every single Sunday. If you think that they are all Christians, they are not! If, for example, you want men, preach to men, even if there are none there because their wives will get them to come. It can’t be a goofy presentation of the gospel, it must be a relevant one. Every week train them to recognize how everything relates to Jesus, e.g. marriage, parenting, etc. Mark shared an example of a couple in the church who couldn’t understand why they shouldn’t sleep together outside of marriage. He told them, “You are preaching a false gospel.” He asked them if their friends knew that they were Christians and were doing this. If so, he explained, they were saying the wrong thing with their lives. Jesus has a bride, not a girlfriend.
Bring converts on stage. Let them tell their story. Tell them to share their stories before you baptize them. Stories drive us to being missional. A church is cursed when there are no converts or babies.
Daniel and his contemporaries weren’t just in Babylon to be punished, but to be a missionary to share the knowledge of God to all those kings. Driscoll again said that in watching Newfrontiers, it was his observation that we are devoted to the Lord. But we must be more of a witness to those around us.
Third, a missional church is keenly aware of the local culture. (Acts 17—He SAW that the city was full of idols.) We must be greatly troubled. We are too submerged in our Christian subculture. We need to ask ourselves, “What is going on in the world? What is popular? Which shows are women watching? Which are men watching?” He watches teenage girl shows because he wants to know what they are thinking! He wants to get ahead of his daughter. Fast-forward them. Ultimate fighting is the fastest growing sport in the USA, for example. TV shows the different gods, whether sports, fame, sex, money, etc. Look for the idols. Watch it missiologically. Don’t be naïve. Stop the movie and discuss it with them. Where is the Dad? Dad is an idiot, but the dog is smart. What are they trying to tell us? That if you can’t trust Dad, you should do it yourself. TV shows are sermons. Watch Extreme Makeover. Ask yourself, “What is missing? Why does this family need this house?” None of the families have a Dad! Where’s the Dad? Use the examples that are out there. Work illustrations into the preaching. They know who Posh Spice is, or whoever! I pay attention to your world; now let me tell you about the culture of the Bible. Listen to radio/drive time TV. Know what people are talking about. See who are the teams and tribes. Find your kids My Space page! Find the teens in your church. Facebook and My Space are like a Catholic confessional. Pay attention to the students lives in the church. What are your people reading in blogs?
Magazines have on their cover someone’s definition of heaven. Car heaven, six-pack heaven, stereo heaven, photography heaven, etc. Visions of heaven. If you buy the magazine can be delivered from your hell and give you your heaven. Do these things and you will get there. It’s evangelism. How does this work with the Bible? Is that view of heaven they are offering false? Why? What is the underlying need the magazine is trying to address?
People are devoted religiously to hobbies, sports, etc. Go to the mall before the kids do! If shopkeepers are working in the middle of the afternoon they are bored. See what they are selling and buying. Ask questions of the bored store workers. He walked into a teenage girls’ clothing store. He said, “Do you have anything in my size?” He told her the truth, that he is a pastor always looking to learn, who has a daughter who is almost a teenager. “Who shops here? What do they buy?” He walked out understanding more of why girls feel pressured to look a certain way.
Grocery store. Go with the intent of looking at everything. What’s there? What does it tell you? Big organic section means there are more green people. They believe in justification by recycling so you need to have recycling bins at church! Good to learn.
First place—where do they live? Second place—where do they work? Third place—where do they play? Go to where they play. Where they would live if they could afford it! Where do they really want to be?
Do you have a total routine? Repent and stop doing it. Leave early and use it to look around. There are multiple ways to do church work—see what is happening in your neighborhood. His wife asks, “Where are we going?” He says, “Don’t worry, we will get there. I’m not lost I am missiological. Interesting! There’s new businesses going in here, young families moving in. Pull over and start asking people questions.
This is not British, but that is why the UK is so non-Christian.
Building works asked the foreman, “What’s going on?” Oh, couples leaving, so we’re tearing down some homes and building condos. That’s more people. Start a new community group there and welcome them into the neighborhood. What is happening?
Speak to parents. What is happening to the kids? Talk to the people who talk to the people. Ask the cashier questions. Who comes in here? Who’s the weirdest person who ever comes in here? Talk to the people in service economy. They see hundreds of thousands of people all week. They see the real deal!
What’s going on lately at the bank? Was told people are freaking out. Checks bouncing. Well, maybe we should do seminars on money then! Always look for new opportunities.
Start an evening service for new people. They had five services where he preached live, but that felt like being hit by a truck. So they went down to four services, which now feels like being hit by a car! Services at 8:30 at night are packed and people even show up late! People who are out last night won’t get up for a 9 a.m. service. He pastors people publicly by text message, i.e. asks questions anonymously. Someone once asked, “I have been raped, can I get an abortion?”
Consider everybody in your church. It’s okay to be family friendly, have a great kids program, help your marriage. But if you’re not careful, singles may get the impression that you don’t want them, don’t need them, don’t like them. Now there are more unmarried than married people! These days being married to a woman and having children is countercultural. If someone who is the product of an abused home walks in, etc., it’s not about trying to maintain a good family.
When preaching through the book of Ruth, Mars Hill showed great growth at that time. They had to turn 300 people away from one of their services! Is your church welcoming, friendly, a hospital to those people? Or is it all married couples and families?
Missional church contends and contextualizes. Jude says “Contend for the faith.” What are we going to fight over? What’s in the closed hand? You guys love the Bible, Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the poor, the lost, church planting. Keep that! Fight for them! But also contextualize. By ALL MEANS save as MANY people as possible. Do it for the sake of the gospel. Open the door to your church as broad
ly as you can without compromising. Use technology, etc.
We are NOT trying to make Christianity relevant, but rather are showing that it IS ALREADY relevant.
If a teenage girl tells you she lost her virginity to her father, the gospel IS relevant to her, but she needs to be shown HOW it is. So said I need to speak to you about expiation. “I’ve no idea about what that means!” Took some time, showed her that what was done to her the Bible calls a sin, a horrific evil. Fathers are privileged to carry the name father and carry it with nobility and honor. What has happened to you is shocking. What did you do afterwards? Took a shower because I felt dirty. You were defiled. The Bible says there is sin that is done by us and against us. And sin does make us dirty. “I will always feel dirty.” Jesus is God. He came to earth, was abused and beaten and tormented and shamed. He was humiliated and tortured. He can sympathize with you. God was sinned against. Jesus went to the cross and they killed him. But he forgives our sin AND cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1). She said, “I feel totally ashamed.” Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame. Jesus died not only to forgive you, but to cleanse you from the sins against you. That shower was an effort for you to cleanse yourself, but it can’t cleanse your soul, your identity, your femininity. The gospel was relevant to her! She responded immediately. Driscoll said to her, “Choose to see yourself as Jesus does. You need Jesus so you can be cleansed, pure, and wear white!”
We don’t MAKE Jesus relevant; we show how he already IS relevant.