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On Becoming Missional

October 5, 2006

In order to be a more “missional” church, I do not believe that our great need is better contextualization.   We’re already quite contextualized.   There is not in our church a strict adherence to traditional forms that are off-putting to the local culture, and we’ve already run off most of the self-righteous Pharisees.   We don’t live in New York or Seattle, we live in a midwestern Big Ten college town, and most of us look exactly like we live in a midwestern Big Ten college town.  There may be a generational gap to bridge for some of us, but the cultural gap is barely a hop.

No, we don’t need a radical overhaul of the way we do church so that we’ll be more relevant.  Our need continues to be simply a greater willingness to befriend sinners, and a greater boldness to speak salty words full of grace and truth.

Here’s a first offering of ideas about what it means to be missional in Champaign-Urbana.

1) Campus. The university community must continue to be our primary target.

2) Hospitality.  The word means “lover of strangers”.   It’s the first positive character requirement listed for an elder in 1 Timothy 3.  We need to either downsize our ministries to ourselves so that we have time to have relationships with neighbors and co-workers, or we need to rethink those ministries so that they welcome unbelievers.

3) Service.  We do acts of service to the community not only because it blesses those in the community, but also because good works adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.  People will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.   Here’s a crazy idea I had on the drive back from Minneapolis.  When our small group buys groceries or does a home repair project for a family in crisis, what if we invited our unbelieving friends and neighbors to join us in doing that service project?  They see us doing good works, they build relationships with several in our church, and they are more open to an invitation to visit church or small group in the future.

What do you think about those three points?  Would you like to suggest a fourth?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Reepicheep permalink
    October 5, 2006 10:33 am

    How many “self righteous Pharisees” are left? :)

  2. October 5, 2006 10:57 am

    In the last church census, taken 2-29-2005, there were 5 reported “self-righteous Pharisees”. However, only 2 of these were self-reported; the others were likely reported by other, unidentified self-righteous Pharisees.

  3. October 5, 2006 11:07 am

    One thing I’ve noticed is that, within the university community are many international students who come from countries that ridicule/persecute belief in God and Jesus Christ. Their desire for God has given way to fear of whatever, which continues even while they’re in America.

    While they’re in America and have religious freedom, I think we could do a lot to reach these with the love of Christ, disciple them and do our best to prepare them to be missionaries back in their home countries.

    I’ve seen members of the church doing a lot toward reaching these students, and I think we need to encourage that. Not with a program or anything run by our church, necessarily, but just a more focused involvement with these folks while they’re here.

  4. October 5, 2006 11:06 am

    Matthew 26:22
    And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”

  5. October 5, 2006 12:49 pm

    It makes me sad that Carl and I can’t spend more time with the international students :( I think there’s an awesome ministry (and talk about missional!) that could be happening over at Orchard Downs or with exchange students and so on (and from there back to their home countries)… but unfortunately, the two of us have to focus our efforts elsewhere :(

  6. Son of Matt permalink
    October 5, 2006 12:54 pm

    Thanks Isaiah543. Here are my thoughts….

    1. I’m not sure that I would say campus should be our primary target. Have we said that before? (I think we need to be there and be strategic there, etc. And I think mully’s ideas about international folks are great.) I would think though, at least as an individual desiring to love sinners, MY primary target should be my neighbors, co-workers, etc. I don’t want to neglect them (in any way) so that I can focus on campus.

    2. I think the idea of serving together with non-believers is a good idea. I would guess that the average non-chrisitan would be more likely to accept an invitation to come with my church small group to help the poor than to study the bible or even do something “fun”. (One thing to watch out for here, is the possibility that some non-christians who join us in this might mistake the clearing of their social conscience with the clearing of their moral/spiritual conscience. We would want to make sure we speak enough of the gospel to them (and get to know them) so we don’t add to this confusion.) With that said, though, I like the idea!

  7. October 5, 2006 2:50 pm

    I wondered if someone would call me on the campus point. Let me expand upon it. I don’t think that any individual needs to turn away from witnessing to their neighbors in order to witness to a college student.

    But my point is that if we were to think “missionally” about C-U, (imagine that we just got off the MAF plane and were strategizing how to reach this place), I think we would put a great emphasis on the campus. Not because the souls there are any more important than other souls, but because of strategy. Paul went to major cities along Roman highways on his missionary journey, not because rural people were less important, but because reaching cities was more strategic.

    And if we say that we want to reach not just C-U, but we want to reach the world by sending out laborers from C-U, historically God calls most career missionaries while they are at the university.

    New topic. As for the self-righteous Pharisees among us, I thought the comedic tone of my blog was sufficiently established. I was joking. I don’t have any particular Pharisees in mind. But the joke is designed to make you think. It’s designed to remind you that Pharisees repel unbelievers and to provoke you to search your own heart for Pharisaism. As I preached when I preached Luke “We all need to get in touch with our inner Pharisee…and kill him.”

    Finally, lest you take this discussion too seriously, remember this is just my blog and it’s a fun place to hang out. These are just my initial reflections on the conference and not an official statement of the vision of the church for the next decade. As I said in the post, this conference didn’t leave me feeling like we needed any massive changes. But it did remotivate me to actually put into practice some things I’ve been preaching for 12 years.

  8. Son of Matt permalink
    October 5, 2006 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the explanation of our campus target. So do you see this focus played out sort of like this… our (Joe and Jill Congregant) job is to love and get to know the students we have, help them to love the local church/missions, etc. , and then support and encourage them to be doing evangelism to other students?

    In line with the “support evangelism” idea, here’s a thing “Air In” and I did while doing Gymnasia… Since most of our students (and their friends) were big studyers, we had a few “study nights” at our house. We’d provide snacks and a clean and comfortable place to study and let them stay as long as they wanted. For students who don’t know any townies, and never see anything but campus, the “home” environment was nice.

  9. October 6, 2006 12:44 pm

    Son of Matt,

    I like both those ideas!

  10. Egana permalink
    October 8, 2006 3:54 pm

    1. Son of Matt and Air-IN…

    that’s a great ides.. I would love to do that…

    2. so, the building committe would need to look at how a building would allow us to better serve our surrounding community? Or else it would become another sink hole of energy adn effrot that could be better spent elsewhere?

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