How is God at Work Outside the Church… If At All?

russian-church-afar.jpg I’m a week behind in the series now, but I hope to catch up. I really do have good intentions. Anyway, last week in the Missional Prelude series, the gang was talking about how God is at work outside of the church. As is the pattern, Ed Stetzer opened things up on Monday with the question: “How and Why is God at Work Outside the Church?” He then started namedropping, opening with “J.C. Hoekendijk,” who some may remember has been discussed in a prior series. Ed writes, “For Hoekendijk, the concept of shalom (a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare) was a more all-inclusive notion than salvation…. Salvation was broadened and, in some ways, redefined.”

Prologue to Missional Discussions

oed.jpg Seems a little odd to be writing a prologue after all this time, doesn’t it? Well, there’s a back-story, as may be inferred by those who may have noticed posts at other blogs with this same title. I’ve written a lot about the meaning of missional, its distinctives, and what it means to be missional — besides innumerable casual mentions on this blog. I finally drafted a missional series index that lists the posts I did during my major series (2007) defining the concepts inherent in the term as well as the nine-post series I did (2008) summarizing the missional synchroblog when more than 50 bloggers participated in hashing out what it means to be missional. With a couple of other miscellaneous posts thrown in, this is a total of 25 posts just from me. That’s a lot of words, and some may wonder why I’m doing this once again. No, it’s not because I skipped it last year and am overdue, but it’s for two major reasons.

Where are the Doors to the Church?

churchdoors.jpg In my previous post, I reflected briefly on a recent post by David Fitch about the Sunday morning gathering in the local church. He suggests that contrary to the position taken by some missional thinkers now, the Sunday gathering is not non-missional — or at least, it doesn’t have to be despite “the problem of the attractional inertia surrounding the Sunday morning worship gathering.”

A lot of this has to do with how we view the gathering in the first place. In introducing the subject, Fitch writes,

A recent visitor to our church’s Sunday morning gathering told me “we really enjoyed the service.” At which point I felt the urge to puke. I understand this is most often the nicest and best of things people can say to a pastor after a church worship gathering. Yet it belies the problem of Sunday morning worship in our day. Sunday morning worship is a spectacle,it too often distances us from God as a spectator event.

Decaffeinated Worship

emptycoffeecups.jpg Dave Fitch posted Against Decaffeinated Belief: The Sunday Gathering as Missional almost two weeks ago now, and I’m finally sitting down to chew on it. I really have to sit down with Dr. Fitch one of these days over a pint of beer for some thought-stimulating conversation. I like what he’s on about in this post.

He writes,

One of my D.Min students (at Northern) writes about the problem of decaffeinated belief in his thesis proposal. He says that many of his denomination’s pastors

…agree that a growing number of worshipers are talking or sitting through the congregational singing writing notes during the special music, showing up 10-15 minutes late, not worried about interrupting anything or anyone. One pastor shared that a congregant stopped attending worship opting to stay home and worship with a church on television. When asked about this, the congregant responded, “Why does it matter where I watch the service?”

Hyperlinks Subvert Hierarchies at Missional Tribe

Book Cover We’ve been having some real fun over at the Missional Tribe. After flinging the doors open a little under 48 hours ago, we have as of this moment 198 users and 82 blogs, where there have been some good posts showing up and some good conversations getting started. The groups and forums are active too, with more conversations going on than I can keep track of.

Any Moment Now!

mtribe_logo.jpg I’ve be tweaking and the other instigators have been tapping away, and the final moments are upon us. Launch day for Missional Tribe is on Epiphany, January 6th, and we have a few real goodies in store — for instance,

What’s a Megachurch to Do?

lakewood-megachurch.jpg Just when you think the conversation might go away quietly, Bill Kinnon sticks his nose into it. But then again, he can have that way of hitting it spot-on in his commentary. Like this time. So in this running dialogue, I was going to title my post Maynard on Kinnon on Keller on Fitch on Kimball — because that’s the rough outline of the conversational thread — but then just the title of the post would be too hard to follow. As it happens, Tim Keller has responded to David Fitch’s response to what it sounded like Dan Kimball was saying on the Out of Ur blog. Keller outlines some of his experience in small and large churches, then summarizes,

The Missional/Attractional Divide: Dan Kimball Unpolarized

road-through-woods.jpg In case you missed it, Dan Kimball wrote a post at Out of Ur, and like many others, I responded. Then Dan responded to my response. Other great points in this discussion are made by Julie Clawson, David Fitch, and Erika Haub, including front-line reports from missional churches. (I found myself defending missional theory.) Once you read his followup comments, you realize that Dan’s original post was edited in a way that shifted its emphasis somewhat. I said right off that he had a point, and with the updates in mind one begins to to understand better — he isn’t as polarized on this issue as the original post makes him sound, and his questions are genuine. In fact, Dan is involved in starting a new missional network. Even so, Dan’s questions raised some further issues and highlighted some differences of opinion which nevertheless remain.