Weekly Meanderings

In Chicago, we vote early and often, and our Santas arrive early and often too!

Santas.jpgWe haven’t said this in a while, but if you have a post or know of a post that you would like to spread around the internet, send me the link and we’ll take a look and see what we can do to get it posted on Weekly Meanderings. No promises …

Division in the Church is never the ideal … but this seemed inevitable: North American Province of the Anglican Communion. Here’s a CT article, but I’d like to hear those Anglican editors at CT weigh in on this one.

Here’s something we are grateful for
 
I totally agree with Rose Madrid Swetman’s take on assisted suicide. Bob Smietana’s piece in The Tennessean tells the story of a congregation coming to life through missional work. I like this piece (but hasn’t been published elsewhere already?). Lots to take away from this story by Carol Kehlmeier. TSK aggregates various sites on churches dealing with the recession. Jennifer‘s story of setting up a Christmas tree. John Frye is reviving the old Wittenburg Door articles.

A new position: pastor for gospel action.

Dan Kimball asks hard questions of the missional strategy for evangelism. (BTW: I don’t see Dan’s concern here to be with “missional” but with the impact of missional evangelism.) David Fitch, ever ready, pitches in on this battle to explain some things missional. Erika Haub also offers some reflections. Here’s my assessment, and I stand with Dan Kimball on this one: any church that says it is “missional” and over time has no growth numerically from evangelism isn’t, in fact, being “missional.” That is, missional isn’t a substitute for evangelism but the genuine form of the Christian life of loving God and loving others, and therefore living with and for others. Genuine missional living leads to evangelism. (And, to come full circle, any evangelism that isn’t missional is not genuine evangelism.) Jesus was missional, and he called folks to follow him and he did so by telling them to enter into the kingdom by repenting and by believing in him and by embodying, with others, that kingdom.

Academic opening in “Religious Studies” at the University of Agder in Norway, where LeRon Shults teaches.

1. The Mumbai attacks revealed a new kind of terrorism and turned the police into soldiers. It was 9/11 for them.
2. Study abroad … for the whole degree.
3. Brooks on changes underway in international poliltics.
4. Pure amateur sports — we’ve got some of this at North Park with our crew teams.

Maybe my favorite place in the whole world: Tuscany.

Tuscany.jpg5. Don’t minimize the significance of Obama’s pick for education.
6. Speaking of education, Facebook … not exactly education but it’s the most used social network in the universe.
7. Of all Christian groups, evangelical Protestants score best: only 10
percent give nothing away. Evangelicals tend to be the most generous,
but they do not outperform their peers enough to wear a badge of honor
.
Thirty-six percent report that they give away less than two percent of
their income. Only about 27 percent tithe.

Sports:

The Bears looked awful, it’s good that they are no longer in first place because the pressure was getting to all of us … hey, come to think of it, we tied the Vikes this year. We won here and they won up there. Come to think of it, they won because they were at home.

I enjoyed watching this pitcher more than any in my lifetime. (And, our son got to catch him in a bullpen one time.)

What do you, Mr. Mayor Daley, think of “da Bears”?

Thumbnail image for DaleyGrouch.jpg
He deserves it.

And here come the Ms. Santas!

Santas2.jpg

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler (Man of Depravity)

    “Come to think of it, they won because they were at home.”
    Come on Scot….20 points is a lot more than a home field advantage.

  • http://eugenecho.wordpress.com Eugene

    Scot,
    Greg Maddux was also one of my favorite players. I’m sort of disappointed he is retiring because I think he could have kept going for a few more years. There was still decent movement on his pitches and his defense still has no comparison. His season last year wasn’t his best but I wanted him to go till he was 50.

  • RJS

    Dan’s article is interesting.
    A church is not missional if it is not contributing to the mission of God. Or perhaps put this way – a church isn’t missional if it isn’t going into the world and making disciples, baptizing, and teaching obedience.
    Of course a church that teaches discipleship and obedience must also practice discipleship and obedience, which means feeding, giving water, serving, healing, housing, … which will lead people to Jesus and into the church which will teach discipleship and obedience and …
    If a church serves – but doesn’t welcome people and attract those served into discipleship and obedience (it doesn’t grow or give birth to more groups) something is broken.
    Church isn’t small group – although small group fellowship and support is an important part of church.
    But shouldn’t Out of UR watch JesusCreed at the new site rather than the old?

  • RJS

    The Vikes won because they are the better team… home ha!
    No bet with John Franke this year? I was looking forward to another trip into Calvin and his institutes. I learned a lot from it last year.

  • http://julieclawson.com Julie Clawson

    I don’t think any of us had issues with Dan over the fact that evangelism should be part of missional churches, just that its a lot more complicated than attractional forms of evangelism. It is easy to make converts by offering perks with the say a prayer plan, but calling people to willing sacrifice of themselves from the get go is not so easy in our “me first” society.

  • http://www.andyrowell.net Andy Rowell

    I have made an index of the various comments related to Kimball’s post in the blogosphere.
    Following Dan Kimball’s Missional vs. Megachurch conversation
    http://www.andyrowell.net/andy_rowell/2008/12/following-dan-kimballs-missional-vs-megachurch-conversation.html

  • Ted M. Gossard

    Yes, I like the thoughts here on the gospel and evangelism bringing people into a new relationship with God through Christ, as being the first thing a Missional church is all about. After all, doesn’t missional start at home before finally extending the entire globe? If we don’t have that passion to see others come to faith in Christ, then somehow we’re losing out. God I think is burning that in me, though probably quite small, yet!

  • Dan

    Julie,
    Thanks for your throughtful comments. What I was trying to suggest was that many larger churches have been learning lessons from the past and they focus intentionally on building smaller communities within them for spiritual formation to occur within community. And they focus on some very radical discipleship committments for those who place faith in Jesus. So it goes far beyond just saying an easy prayer after you get a “show” and motivational message.
    I do know that it is happening if the larger church sets up their whole ethos and structure for that. I don’t think it is a matter of size, it is a matter of what the churches set up and do, whether a large, small or medium sized church. The question is, is it happening in whatever size church it is?
    My ultimate concern and what prompted this was the consistant lack of stories and growth that I have at least personally heard about from missional churches about new disciples being made (not just converts but disciples being trained and growing). My experience has been (and that is why I was asking in the article and hoping I am wrong) that so many “missional” churches are comprised of already Christians without much growth from non-Christians if any. I know churches do get started with generally all Christians who launch them. So of course it will be mainly Christians in new churches for a season. But over time and seasons, do we see new disciples being made too? So despite all the wonderful, wonderful things that do happen in those churches, without new disciples being made in the mix as well, can it really be seen longer-term as a “missional” church? Is not evangelism a significant part of being missional whether a missional church is a house church, small church, medium size, large, or mega-large?
    I think you know, we are not a megachurch in the church so this is not a personal defense. We are a church plant that started in 2004 and by no means a megachurch. Anyway, thank you and I hope this makes sense.
    Dan

  • Gloria

    I attend a megachurch (one of the biggies) and it is a missional community. As Dan commented, it is not the size of the church that determines whether a church is “missional” or not. My large church is both adding new converts with many baptisms a year, and is also very missional in its reaching into the community (both locally and globally). Whether a church is “attractional” or not is not the point. Actually, I would hope a church is attractional and not pushing people away by being strange, odd or whatever.

  • Rick

    In regards to Dan’s article, please note in the comments section at Out of Ur that he provides 2 replies which further clarify his thoughts (some of which is contained in #8 here). Apparently some clarification was needed due to the editorial process at Out of Ur.
    Dan indicates that he will be posting the original, full article at his blog.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Attracting people, evangelism, growth, all that that is fine. But the important question is whether all of those are means to the end of being missional, or whether evangelism/growth/etc. is seen as the end in itself. There seems to be some confusion of terms. An “Attractional” church is one that sees numerical growth as the end in itself. If that’s the case, then they’re not really following the Great Commission and I don’t care how successful they are at winning “converts”, they’re not converting people to what really matters. On the other hand, if a church is growing and attracting people for the purpose of equipping them to go out into the world for the sake of the kingdom, then that church is already “missional”, no matter how many programs it has or how big it is.
    The distinction Dan should have been making in his article is not between growing “attractional” churches and stagnant “missional” churches, but between churches that say they’re missional and really aren’t versus churches that appear attractional but actually have a missional mindset.

  • Scot McKnight

    Mike,
    I do think Dan was making that kind of distinction in the original piece, and in fact he has made those sorts of distinctions in his comments on Out of Ur blog. One of Dan’s comments that is not being acknowledged is that many “missional” churches are touting a missional approach as a superior form of evangelism and are not in fact growing numerically. This was a big point for Dan.
    One point: I know of no churches that call themselves “attractional” and I’ve never ever heard of a church defining itself as you have defined “attractional” above. Here are your words: “An “Attractional” church is one that sees numerical growth as the end in itself.”
    Here would be a point I would make: “attractional,” so far as I know, was set up in our sort of conversation by Frost and Hirsch. (Perhaps others used it before them; that doesn’t really matter.) That set-up was in fact a set-up because “attractional” was defined as a foil over against a superior approach called “missional.” This is a language game of self-definition. Why say this? No one of the churches I know that is called “attractional” calls itself an “attractional” church and, to be sure, they never say they see attraction as an end in itself.
    Postmodernity helps us see that this sort of language game carries within a game of power.
    What Dan is saying is that this language game is not describing some of the realities it said of itself years back.
    Dan is for attractional churches that are missional and missional churches that are also evangelistic.
    Mike, here’s a big point for me and I’ve said this to you and with you more than once: many emerging folks like “missional” in a way that masks that they don’t like “evangelism” or aren’t doing evangelism. When I first became involved in this conversation, some 4 yrs back, a leading person who knew the conversation very well said to me that “emerging churches are not evangelistic.” I doubted her word at that time; I know some are but overall I’d say they are not. This is not so much a defense of attractional or mega churches, but a statement that churches that are genuinely missional — something I’m hugely committed to myself — are also evangelistic.
    Well, I’ve rattled along here too long. Sorry.

  • qb

    What do statistics really tell us, though, about the kingdom of God? Aren’t statistics more of a modern idea, one that assumes that “what God is doing” can be distilled from a set of numbers?
    qb

  • Scot McKnight

    QB (and you know I prefer your name instead of anonymity),
    Numbers tell true things. The modernist reduction to numbers is reductionistic — to use a tautology.
    But the early chps of Acts use numbers to express confidence of success.

  • Mike Clawson

    If some churches are “touting a missional approach as a superior form of evangelism”, then they missing the point of what it means to be missional. In fact, when I first read Dan’s post I got the impression that he thought of missional that way too, though he has since clarified.
    And you’re right that no church labels itself as “attractional”, though I can think of plenty of churches that do see numerical growth as an end in itself. In fact, most of traditional evangelicalism has been this way for the past half-century. When the most important thing is getting people to “accept Jesus” so they can go to heaven when they die, number of converts really does become the end in itself. And when, as in the seeker church model, the church itself is seen as the primary vehicle for making converts, then yes, number of people attending one’s church does become an end in itself.

  • Scot McKnight

    Mike,
    You have my support in the inadequate framing of the gospel in many attractional churches; and the same support in their focusing on getting decisions too much … but ….
    As long as you admit that:
    1. Some of those churches are some of the best models also of missional work, and I would say both Willow Creek and Saddleback show wonderful signs of development here.
    2. Most of those attractional churches also have strong programs — programs, not always everyone involved — in discipleship and Bible reading etc.. In fact, some of the best materials for discipleship etc have emerged from attractional churches.
    3. These same churches preach a gospel that does not get them to the necessity of missional living and discipleship. In fact, their gospel renders these things voluntary … and yet…
    4. These same churches are often vocal in appealing to Christians to be involved in discipleship etc..
    What I see in the major attractional churches, then, is a mixed bag of both attractional and missional. I agree that for some — esp 25 years ago — the attractional was just too important. But there are significant signs of change in these matters.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Oh yeah, I agree with all of that. In fact, I’ve never been down on Willow or Saddleback (at least not to the extreme that our friend Dave Fitch often is). As far as seeker churches go, those two especially are often way better than their copy-cats.

  • http://www.whiterose4jon.net Mike Mangold

    Scot: is Daley looking more and more like his old man or what?
    You say “Willow Creek and Saddleback show wonderful signs of development here” in terms of missional work. Can you be more specific so that we can model this?

  • Scot McKnight

    Mike,
    Both churches are deeply committed to and committing funds/resources to AIDS and poverty issues, both locally and globally.

  • http://jennw2ns.blogspot.com Jennwith2ns

    I’m not sure these are really timely enough to warrant posting on here, but I’m curious to know how you react to these posts I wrote about a year and a half ago . . .
    http://jennw2ns.blogspot.com/2007/06/divine-in-captain-jack-sparrow.html
    and
    http://jennw2ns.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-pirate-brotherhood-is-like-church.html


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