Revolution: Five Missional Turns Churches Can Make in a Changing Culture to Lead People to Faith

Chris Altrock – Highland Church of Christ – Memphis, TN

Summer Celebration – Lipscomb University – July, 2010

 

 

In a recent article for Christianity Today Ed Stetzer surveyed multiple studies of the Christian faith in America and then provided these concluding thoughts:[1] “Mainline denominations are no longer bleeding; they are hemorrhaging. Increasingly, they are simply managing their decline. For evangelicals, the picture is better, but only in comparison to the mainline churches. Southern Baptists, composing the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., have apparently peaked and are trending toward decline. The same is true of most evangelical denominations…. There is little doubt in my mind that the cultural expression of Christianity in America is declining. True, Christianity is losing its “home-field advantage” in North America.” There is little doubt that Christianity in America is facing significant challenges and that fewer Americans are embracing the Christian faith.

 

Twenty years ago I was part of that massive group of “unchurched” Americans.  I was far away from God and from church.  Yet God used a high school senior named Gary Cox to lead me to faith in God and participation in church.

 

So, on the one hand many of us recognize that we Christians aren’t doing even a mediocre job in leading people in America to faith in God.  On the other hand, as my story illustrates, we know it is possible to lead people to faith.  And, I think, most of us want to see that possibility become reality.  We want the hurting people in our communities to know the joy of faith in God.  We want to bring an end to the decline Stetzer writes about.

 

That is what makes Matt. 5-10 such an important season of Jesus’ life to explore.  These six chapters may be the most important six chapters from Jesus’ life for those of us who no longer wish to see our country being one of the unchurched nations in the world. 

 

Matt. 5-10 begins with a vision.  It’s a vision which many of us share.  As Matt. 5 opens, Jesus dreams a dream.  Jesus sees us who follow him as salt which can remove and prevent decay in the lives of people around the world.  And, Jesus sees us who follow him as light which can dispel darkness around the world.  Here’s how Jesus puts it: You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matt. 5:13, 14-16 TNIV)  In Matt. 5 Jesus gives his vision: “Imagine being salt and light.”  Jesus believes we and our churches can be so salty and so full of light that people around us will “glorify your Father in heaven.”  That’s how Matt. 5-10 begins. 

 

Notice how this section ends.  At the end of Matt. 9 Jesus urges us to pray for the Father to send out people to be salt and light: The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  (Matt. 9:37-38 TNIV).  Jesus urges us to pray for the Father to send people out to be salt and light.  Then in Matt. 10, Jesus answers that prayer.  In Matt. 10 Jesus actually sends us out to be salt and light: Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions… (Matt. 10:1,5 TNIV).  Jesus begins Matt. 5-10 by urging us to imagine ourselves as salt and light—agents who can lead lost, lonely, and hurting people to faith in the Father.  Jesus ends this section by sending us to be salt and light.  In Matt. 5 we get the vision: “Imagine being salt and light.”  In Matt. 10 we get the commission: “Go and be salt and light.”   

 

But how do we get from that vision to that commission?  How do we turn that possibility into reality, especially in a changing culture like ours?  That’s what Matt. 5-9 is about.  In Matt. 5-9 Jesus presents all that is necessary for the dream to be put into action.   Specifically, in Matt. 5-7 Jesus gives us instruction.  Jesus instructs us on the kind of character and lifestyle we and our churches must have if we want to be salt and light.  Also known as the Sermon on the Mount, this instruction is the clearest teaching in the Gospels of the kind of people we need to be in order to be salt and light.  In Matt. 5-7 Jesus instructs how to be the salt and light. 

 

Then in Matt. 8-9 we find demonstration.   Jesus demonstrates how to be salt and light.  Jesus lets us tag along as he interacts with lost, lonely, and hurting people and becomes salt and light in their lives.  Jesus models the kinds of practices which we and our churches can do that will lead people to faith in the Father. 

 

But before we dive into Jesus’ demonstration, there is a mindset we must embrace, because it sets the context for everything else in Matt. 8-9: 14Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matt. 9:14-17 ESV)   John’s disciples ask, Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”  John’s probably referring to the common practice of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.[2]  And he wants to know why Jesus’ disciples don’t fast on Mondays and Thursdays. 

 

To answer, Jesus borrows imagery from Is. and Ez. in which God is described as a bridegroom. 

Here, Jesus describes himself as a bridegroom.  He imagines his ministry as a wedding, a time of joy and happiness.  Thus, he says, now is a time for feasting, not fasting.  As Matt. 8-9 will make clear, now is a time of celebration because people are being healed, forgiven, and freed from evil spirits.[3] But eventually, when the bridegroom is taken—a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion—then it will be a somber time, a time more suited to fasting. 

 

Then Jesus uses this wedding imagery to address a larger issue. [4]   A key ingredient of weddings in Jesus’ day was wine.  When you hosted a wedding, you provided wine.  So, having described himself as a bridegroom, and his ministry as a wedding-like celebration, Jesus now talks about wine.  He says that if you put new wine, which is still in the process of fermenting, into an old wineskin, that wineskin may burst. In Jesus’ day people would sew animal skins together to make a container for liquid like wine.  Once filled with wine, the container would expand as the wine fermented.  But once these skins stretched to their limit and hardened, they could expand no more.  Taking one of these old and inflexible wineskins and filling it with new wine would cause it to burst.[5]

 

Why does Jesus raise this issue of wineskins?  His comment comes in the context of growing conflict between himself and the religious leaders.  Jesus is busy in Matt. 8-9 demonstrating how to be salt and light, but the religious leaders keep criticizing him: 

  • For example, in Matt. 9:1-8 Jesus restores mobility to a paralyzed man and forgives his sins, but the teachers of the law respond by muttering, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 
  • In Matt. 9:9-13 Jesus establishes friendships with people far from God but the Pharisees respond by critiquing him for eating with sinners and tax collectors. 
  • In Matt. 9:27-34 Jesus drives an evil spirit out of a man but the Pharisees snap, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” 
  • And here in this text about wineskins, we find even the disciples of John, one of Jesus’ greatest supporters, wondering about Jesus’ methods.

To use Jesus’ imagery, we could say that the religious establishment is not satisfied with Jesus’ wineskin.  The wineskin is the external expression of Jesus’ ministry.  It’s the words and actions Jesus is using to demonstrate how to be salt and light.  That’s the wineskin.  And the religious leaders don’t like what they see.  They don’t like Jesus’ wineskin.  Why?  Because it doesn’t look like the wineskin of their traditions and customs.  They are used to doing religion in a certain way.  And here is Jesus doing it in a different way.  In fact, Jesus’ wineskin, his way of being salt and light, looks so different that they have been accusing Jesus of abandoning the Bible.  Earlier in this section Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets…” (Matt. 5:17).  Jesus says this because that’s what he has been accused of doing.  Jesus’ way of being salt and light is so revolutionary that that the religious leaders accuse him of abandoning the Bible.

 

And in the face of this controversy, Jesus says, “It’s time for a new wineskin.  What I’m here to do for lost, lonely, and hurting people is so revolutionary, it calls for a new wineskin.  It’s not going to look the way religion’s always looked.  It’s got to be given new expressions, forms, and practices. 

 

And this statement provides the foundational key for us becoming the salt and light we long to be.  Because the truth is that we American Christians have strayed from Jesus’ way of being salt and light.  We and our churches have developed our own customs, our own habits, our own ways of doing church, and ministry, and outreach.  And some of these have actually gotten in the way of our being the salt and light Jesus envisions and commissions in Matt. 5-10.

 

Here’s one piece of evidence to consider:  In January of this year, Church Relevance collected studies of the fastest growing churches in America from 2004-2009.  Based on these studies, Church Relevance put together a list of the Top Ten churches which consistently experienced high levels of growth over this 6 year period (I’ve inserted the founding date of each church (based on the church’s website)):

1996 – Crossroads Community Church (Cincinnati, OH)

1988 – Lancaster County Bible Church (Manheim, PA)

1996 – LifeChurch.tv (Edmond, OK)

2001 – Church of the Highlands (Birmingham, AL)

1980 – Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA)

1993 – Woodlands Church (Woodlands, TX)

1988 – Seacoast Church (Mt. Pleasant, SC)

1990 – Community Bible Church (San Antonio, TX)

1998 – Bay Area Fellowship (Corpus Christi, TX)

1995 – CedarCreek Church (Perrysburg, OH)

Notice that all of these churches are 30 years old or younger.  There is no church above 30 on the list.  Why does age seem to hinder consistent and significant growth?  It has to do with our wineskin.  We in established churches have developed our own wineskins, our own ways of being salt and light.  And sometimes those ways are so different from Jesus’ way that when Jesus tries to pour his wine, his salt and light ways, into our wineskin, it just doesn’t work.  Jesus’ way of being salt and light requires new expressions, forms, and practices.

 

This is especially true given the radical changes taking place in our culture.  Here in America we are witnessing two “cultural revolutions.”  One cultural revolution is the shift from Christian to non-Christian.  One of the most comprehensive studies of the spiritual lives of Americans presents these findings (2008):[6]the number of Americans who report being members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%; From 1972 through 2006 those with no religious preference have increased from approximately 5% to over 15%.  Our culture is shifting from a Christian one to a non-Christian one.

 

A second cultural revolution is the shift from Modern to Postmodern.  “Modern” and “Postmodern” are different worldviews, different ways of thinking about life.[7]  

  1. Modernism believed that reason, not religion, offered the best hope for understanding and explaining life.
  2. Modernism believed in human autonomy.  It said that humans are independent from God, do not need God.
  3. Modernism believed in the positive progress of human history.  Through reason, science, technology, and effort humans could create a bright future characterized by prosperity and peace. 

 

But this Modern way of thinking about life is being replaced by a Postmodern way of thinking about life.  In my book Preaching to Pluralists I use seven characteristics to describe Postmoderns. 

  1. The most dominant characteristic is pluralism.  Pluralism is the belief that there is not just one Truth, but many truths.  As a result, postmoderns are turned off by what they view as the intolerance and exclusivity of Christianity.
  2. A second characteristic of the postmodern culture is its anti-institutional bias.   That is, postmoderns are not interested in the institutional element of Christianity—the church.
  3. Pragmatism is a third quality.  In terms of spirituality, they are primarily interested in having a better life before death, not in securing a better life after death.
  4. Fourth, postmoderns are uninformed about basic Christianity.  Because they are growing up in a non-Christian culture and not pursuing a faith within Christian institutions, they know little about the Christian faith.    
  5. A fifth characteristic concerns their spirituality.  Postmoderns may not be Christian.  They may not be in church.  But they are interested in spiritual matters. 
  6. Sixth, Postmoderns are experiential.  When it comes to their spirituality, they do not care if a place offers the correct doctrine about God.  They care more if a place offers a stimulating experience of God.
  7. Finally, Postmoderns are relational.  Of those who do darken the doors of a church, many say they are looking for some kind of community. 

 

And here’s the challenge: most established churches developed a wineskin, a way of being salt and light, that fit a Christian culture filled with people who had a Modern worldview.  But that Christian culture is turning more toward a non-Christian culture.  And that Modern worldview is being replaced by a Postmodern worldview.  As a result, our wineskin needs reinvestigation.  We may, more than ever before, need to set aside our customs, our comforts, and our habits and embrace the new expressions, forms, and practices of Jesus. 

 

Last summer I read Barbara Kingsolver’s New York Times Bestseller The Poisonwood Bible.[8]  It is the tragic story of a Christian who refused to set aside his own customs and embrace the ways of Jesus.  The narrative takes place in the early 1960’s and focuses on a Georgia Baptist preacher and his family: Nathan and Orleanna Price and their girls Rachel, Leah and Adah (twins), and Ruth May.  Nathan moves his family to the Congo in order to lead the Congolese to faith in the Father.  Nathan ends every sermon in the Congo with these words: Jesus is bangala!  Bangala was a native word.  Pronounced one way, the word means “great.”  Pronounced another way, the word refers to a poisonwood tree which will, in the words of one of the story’s characters, “make you itch like nobody’s business.”  What Nathan means is “Jesus is great!”  But because he pronounces the word wrong, what he actually says is, “Jesus is poisonwood!”  And the novel reveals how, even though Nathan wants the Congolese to believe Jesus is great, Nathan actually makes Jesus poisonwood to them. 

 

How?  It has to do with Nathan’s wineskin.  The way Nathan goes about being salt and light actually makes Jesus unappealing to the Congolese.  Nathan assumes that what worked in Georgia will work in the Congo.  He makes this assumption about everyday kinds of things.  For example Nathan started a garden in order to demonstrate to the tribe’s people how to grow food.  Just as he had in Georgia, he planted his garden on a flat plot of land.  But one tribesperson urged him to create large mounds on which to plant the seeds.  Nathan refused.  At the first torrential rain, all of Nathan’s seeds washed away.  The tribespeople knew that to grow crops in the Congo, seeds must be elevated.  But Nathan was unwilling to consider that what worked in Georgia wouldn’t work in the Congo.

 

Worse, Nathan did the same thing in his ministry.  For example, when the Price family first arrived, the tribe welcomed them with a feast, a feast that cost the tribe a great deal.  The tribe’s leader asked Nathan to say a word at the end of the feast.  Nathan immediately started preaching about Sodom and Gomorrah.  At the end of his remarks he grabbed one of the tribe’s women—all of whom wore no clothes on their tops—and he condemned her for her nakedness.  What Nathan failed to realize was that none in the tribe considered going without a shirt to be immodest.  They did consider it immodest to show one’s legs.  But Nathan allowed his wife and his girls to go around the village in pants that revealed their legs.  Nathan couldn’t fathom that what worked in Georgia wouldn’t work in the Congo.

 

And at his first Sunday service, Nathan urged all the tribe’s people to follow him to the Kwilu river to be baptized.  Nathan envisioned hundreds of them in white clothes being baptized into Christ in the Kwilu river.  Upon hearing the invitation, however, the tribe’s people were alarmed.  Why?  The Kwilu river was filled with crocodiles and children had been devoured in that river.  Still, week after week Nathan urged people to be baptized in the Kwilu river.  Jesus is bangala Nathan kept preaching.  He wanted them to believe Jesus was great.  But his way of being salt and light was ultimately making Jesus poisonwood.

 

There is a sense in which some of our customary ways of being salt and light may be as unfit for a post-Christian and Postmodern culture as the customary ways of a Georgia preacher are unfit for the Congo.  There is sense in which in some of our attempts to be salt and light, we may be leading people to conclude that Jesus is poisonwood instead of concluding that Jesus is great.  Like Nathan, we may need to reinvestigate our wineskin.  We may need to confess that our ways are not the revolutionary ways of Jesus.

 

Fortunately, it’s not as complex as we may fear.  It is hard.  It is daunting.  But it is not complex.  Ultimately what it takes is a return to the simple and ancient practices of Jesus, those he demonstrates so well in Matt. 5-10.  As we survey those chapters, we see five revolutions, five changes we may need to consider if we truly desire to be the salt and light Jesus envisions.

 

First, Jesus’ words in Matt. 8-9 about wineskins call us to move from our customary ways of ministry, created for a Christian and Modern culture, to a more contextual way of ministry that takes into account cultural changes.  It calls for a more incarnational approach to ministry. Jesus’ example in these two chapters reminds us to be open to new ways of thinking about and approaching outreach.  Many of these I cover in my book Preaching to Pluralists.    

 

Second, Jesus demonstrates character.  We see the power of character in Jesus’ interactions with people in Matt. 8-10.  In Matt. 8:2-4 Jesus interacts with a leper: 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”   Notice what Jesus did.  He touched the man.  He not only drew close to him.  He touched him.  He showed great compassion.

 

We see the touch of Jesus’ character throughout Matt. 8-9:

  • When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  He touched her hand and the fever left her…(Matt. 8:14-15 TNIV)
  • While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died.”…After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up… (Matt. 9:18,25 TNIV)
  • As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”…Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored… (Matt. 9:27, 29-30 TNIV)

For Jesus, it was rarely enough to just say something.  Jesus also wanted to do something.  Jesus touched people.  In every encounter in Matt. 8-9 Jesus becomes the good news the people so desperately need.

 

And just in case we miss the point, Matthew includes this description of Jesus in Matt. 9:35-36 :35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  (Matt. 9:35-36 TNIV).  Matthew uses these words as a summary of Matt. 8-9.  For Matthew, this is how Jesus demonstrated salt and light: by showing compassion.   It was the power of his character which elicited faith in people.

 

We also see the critical role of character in Matt. 5-7.  This Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ summary of the kind of character it takes to be salt and light.  Jesus understands that it is not enough to tell good news, we must be good news.  The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ description of the kind of character we must have in order to become salt and light.  Imagine the impact a church could have in this changing culture if it focused on being a Sermon on the Mount community.  In my book Rebuilding Relationships I focus on this call.

 

Jesus’ compassion in Matt. 8-9 reminds us that being salt and light is not simply about telling good news but about being good news.  Jesus heals, restores, and serves people in these two chapters.  His example reminds us of the power of being good news.  It shows the impact of character.  In a non-Christian and Postmodern culture where people may not be interested in what we say to them, they will be open to what we do for them.  When we are good news, people respond better when we tell good news.  In this changing culture, we need to focus once again on imitating Christ’s character and move from simply telling good news to being good news.

 

Third, in Matt. 8-9 Jesus demonstrates closeness. Jesus leaves the safety of the mountain where he’s gathered for the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and draws closer in Matt. 8-9 to those who most need his salt and light.  In Matt. 8:1-15 Jesus draws close to three people: a leper, a centurion, and a Jewish woman.  A scholar named Frederick Dale Bruner suggests that we can picture these three people—a leper, a centurion, and a Jewish woman—in terms of how far each is from the center of the temple in Jerusalem.[9]  As we consider the temple in Jerusalem, we can imagine concentric circles.  

  • At the center is the Holy of Holies, the place where God resided.  There, only one person, a Jewish male, could enter one time each year. 
  • Next is the Holy Place, a space where only Jewish males could enter. 
  • Next is the Court of Women.  Women were welcome in this space, but could go no closer. 
  • Then, there is the Court of Gentiles, the only place in the temple where Gentiles were permitted. 
  • Finally, there is Jerusalem and then outside Jerusalem. 

Bruner suggests we can imagine Jesus being at the center, the Holy of Holies—after all, he is God—and each of these three people—the woman, the centurion, and the leper, being at various distances from that center.  But Jesus leaves the Mount and draws close to each of these three—people believed to be successively farther and farther from God.  Jesus practices closeness.

 

But because many of our churches originated in a Christian and Modern culture, we’ve tended to rely on a certain way of being salt and light called “attractional” or invitational.[10]   Here’s what “attractional” outreach looks like:

  • “Drawing in”—the goal is to draw in as many as possible from the outside world;
  • “Starting where we feel at home”—outreach begins by getting outsiders to come to the place we feel at home;
  • Seating—the goal is to fill as many seats in the church building as possible;
  • “Come to us”—we ask those in need to come to us for help;
  • “How many people come to our church services?”—this is one way churches measure success.  They count the number of people who come to church services.

There are examples of attractional ministry in Scripture.  For example, in John 4 a woman who has met Jesus at a well outside of town invites her fellow towns-folk to “come and see” this Jesus.  In addition, if a church is healthy, it will be naturally attractive.  Some attractional outreach is still effective.  But in our post-Christian and postmodern culture, there will be some who will not be attracted to Christian events.

 

That’s why we need to supplement our “attractional” outreach with “missional” outreach:[11] 

  • Attractional outreach is drawing in—missional outreach is sending out
  • Attractional outreach is starting where we feel at home—missional outreach is starting where they feel at home.  It is Christians leaving their “turf” and going to places where non Christians feel at home;
  • Attractional outreach is seating—missional outreach is sending.  The goal is to empty as many seats as possible by sending Christians into the lives of non Christians;
  • Attractional outreach is come to us—missional outreach is go to them;
  • Attractional outreach asks “How many people come to our church services?”  Missional outreach asks “How many people does our church serve?”

Just like Jesus, we cannot remain on our Sermon on the Mount and just invite people to come to us for what they need.  We have to leave that Mount and go to them.  Jesus’ example calls us to shift from our attractional strategies in which we tell people in our community “if you need salt and light, come to us and we’ll give it to you” to a more missional practice in which we tell our community “since you need salt and light, we’ll go to you.”  If we want to be salt and light, we’ll need to practice more closeness: a move from attractional to missional.  We’ll need to learn to spend time where non Christians are.  We need to get out of our Christian ghettos and rub shoulders once again with the irreligious.

 

This practice ultimately calls us to move from a focus on evangelistic programs with canned speeches and answers to a greater reliance upon people:  relationships and learning to be salt and light within the context of friendships.  In this changing culture, we need to focus once again on imitating Christ’s closeness and getting involved in the lives of people far from God, moving from attractional to missional and from programs to real people.

 

Fourth, in Matt. 8-9 Jesus demonstrates conversation.  Jesus shares the story of the kingdom.  Throughout Matt. 8-9 there are references to Jesus’ preaching and to the power of his word:

  • In Matt. 8:13 Jesus speaks and a paralyzed servant is healed.
  • In Matt. 8:16 Jesus drives out spirits with a word…
  • In Matt. 8:32, Jesus commands “Go!” and demons flee from two men.
  • In Matt. 9:1-8 Jesus’ words bring healing and forgiveness.
  • And in Matt. 9:35 Matthew writes this summary statement: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom…

Thus, one thing Jesus demonstrates in this section is the practice of conversation.  We learn that being salt and light involves telling good news.  In fact, when Jesus sends us out in Matt. 10 he says, As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Matt. 10:7 TNIV).  One of the ways we act as salt and light is through conversation: telling the good news about Jesus.

 

Jesus’ example calls us to reconsider how we tell the story of the kingdom in this new culture.  Because of our legacy in a Modern and Christian culture, we’ve tended to focus on sharing pixels, very small pieces of the story of the kingdom.  We could assume that people already had the big picture in their heads and just needed guidance on some of the details.  But now in this non-Christian and Postmodern culture in which some know nothing at all of the Christian story, we’ll have to focus again on sharing the image, the big picture of the Bible.  Through this ancient yet new wineskin, we too can have a revolutionary impact on people around us.  On my website, www.chrisaltrock.com, under the Story button, I provide some examples of how to share the story, how to share the whole image rather than just the small pixels.

 

Finally, Jesus’ demonstrates the importance of community.  In Matt. 10 Jesus sent disciples, not a disciple.  He sent a community.  Mission was to be done in community.  And these disciples were to invite new people into a community.  They were not merely inviting people to Jesus.  They were inviting people into Jesus’ community.

 

This calls for a revolution from “me” to “we.”  Mission is not just about “me.”  It’s about “we.”  It’s not something “I” do.  It’s something “we” do together.  The Modern world with its individualism and optimistic view of humanity tended to focus on outreach that was individual and done 1 on 1.  But the postmodern world, with its hunger for relationships and its awareness of the need we have for each other, will be best reached by community.

 

At Highland we are attempting to practice this revolution by means of an emphasis we call “Thru You.”  Let me briefly walk you our brochure…

 

 


[1] Ed Stetzer, “Curing Christians’ Stats Abuse,” www.christianitytoday.com,  posted 1/15/2010 09:44AM.

[2] Ben Witherington III, Matthew Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Smyth & Helwys, 2006), 200.

[3] Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins (Orbis, 2005), 223.

[4] Witherington, 201.

[5] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans, 1999), 301.

[6]  “U. S. Religious Landscape Survey 2008” The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, http://religions.pewforum.org/

[7] Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads (Baker Academic, 2008), 23.

[8] Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (HarperPerennial, 1999).

[9] Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew Volume 1: The Christbook (Word, 1987), 299-310.

[10] Based on postings by Steve Hays in response to “Attractional vs Missional Services” http://mattstone.blogs.com; “What is a Missional Church?” Friend of Missional http://www.friendofmissional.org; Chad Hall “Missional:Possible” Leadership (Winter 2007), http://www.christianitytoday.com; Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch The Shaping of Things to Come (Hendrickson, 2003).

[11] Hays etc.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg1dnd8dlc David Holt

    WOW! Fantastic understanding shared here! So difficult to get those accustomed to the usual methods of being salt and light to give genuine consideration of what you’re saying. Would so love to keep up with your success in this area!
    David
    http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/ABCsOfMinistry.html