It’s Thurday a.m. at the i2 Conference at Fellowship Bible Church. Reggie McNeal is speaking today and is the author of several books and and is a Missional Leadership Specialist in Leadership Network in Dallas, Texas.
“Helping Christian leaders live more intentional lives (or persecuting them) is a subtext of my life.”
McNeal said, “I’m here to get you out of the church business; there’s not much future in it. I want to get you in the kingdom business. The single biggest development since the Reformation has also started overseas. It was news to a group of Lutheran pastors I spoke to a few days ago. People who “get it” have more in common with other people who “get it” from any tribe than people from within their own tribe who don’t. The movement is the rise of the missional church. People confuse the missional church with the emerging church, but it’s not about a new methodology.”
McNeal said we don’t need a methodological fix in the North American church; we need a missional fix. The church in America pretty much grew up as a cultural phenomenon rather than a spiritual one. We don’t need “renewal” as much as we need a “newal.” Even our missions agencies exported overseas what wasn’t working here, and we wonder why it’s not working over there.
Christianity is the fastest growing spiritual affiliation in the world. In India, 40-50K new believers by tomorrow morning. In China, 100K. One missional leader overseas said, “Things are growing so fast that we don’t have time to do evangelism.” God is doing a huge work overseas, and it’s finally coming to North America. In post-tsunami Indonesia, entire villages are converting to Christianity. Imams are coming to missionaries and saying, “Your Jesus is appearing to me in my dreams.”
“The Spirit has jumped out of the church and is running hog wild around the earth.”
Anything less than the realization of that means that you’re riding too small a wave. “If you’re riding on a wave and not screaming like a girl, you’re riding too small of a wave.” If your plans are smaller, then you’re probably focusing on methodology rather than missiology. It’s changing church from a noun to a verb. It’s a way of being, living missionally.
I “church” at Starbucks, at work, etc. It is the move toward an incarnational theology about being salt and light, about a way of life. Frankly, we’re blind, McNeal says.
Whoever said to drink 8 cups of water a day obviously never could keep a job.
Like a lot of discipleship groups, many churches never quite get to mission. Disciples with Jesus at the well are a great example. How did they miss ministry to the Samaritans? They brought back Happy Meals rather than souls. (John 4.34-35) Between these two verses, Jesus just sighs and says something to Himself. It’s not recorded. 😉 Remember, these are the leaders of the world Christian movement. It should encourage you and scare you. We too sometimes don’t get it; and certainly our churches don’t get.
“Four more months…” That’s what most churches are saying. What were they looking at? Cause whatever we’re looking at, that’s what we’re working on. The disciples never saw the woman, nor the village. The reason they couldn’t see is because they were all “church” people. The religious culture they grew up in was mostly a call to convert to a culture.
“Straighten up; pay attention; vote right; dress right; learn our language; get off during synaggogue times so you can get to a meeting.” This sounds out the message of getting on our wavelength. We try to get people to attend our churches and when someone starts coming, we are essentially saying, “Let God put some other soulless person to feed me on the way home and be available for emergency healthcare.” Ouch.
In the book of Acts, these same disciples were still shocked when the Samaritans were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then it got worse. It went to the Italians. It caught the church completely off guard. Isn’t it intriguing that Peter was at all three Pentecosts? Look at his response. (It wasn’t “Oh joy, we’ve been praying for this for years..”) The first half of the book of Acts is the church playing catch up with the Spirit! The Spirit still isn’t waiting on the church to “get it.” He has other sheep “not of this fold.” It’s quite possible that we can miss the deal, spend all of our days doing church fabulously and miss out on God.
We’re going to have to learn to see all over again. It’s like a Lens Crafters when they flip the lenses. It is NOT to make your church more successful!
Move from an Inward focus to Outward Focus. This is the main thing that most people “get” about the missional church, but it’s only the starting point. It’s a theological and worldview shift of tectonic proportions. Inward focus means you’ve shrink-warpped God’s work down to the church only. Church people look for God “at church.” We use church-talk rather than God-talk. In a kingdom worldview, you start your search for God in the world. Most of us think that God needs babysitting and can’t be outside after hours, or something bad will happen to him.
We think church is the destination. All the scorecard-keeping in North America is about who shows up to church.
Can you imagine God on Sunday afternoon, “Hurry up, Gabe I need those numbers! How are things going down there?” Religious people have always been a problem for God. We think Jesus said, “I’ve come to give you church and to give it to you more abundantly.”
Airport people are the same way. they think airports matter to people. The airport is a connector to get me where I want to go! No one wants to go to an airport. They want to go through an airport. That’s how God designed the church. The kingdom is about the life that God has for people.
Call it church or call it the Borg, but the goal is not to assimilate people. God wants to give them life! Quit talking about “leading lost people to Jesus!” Lost people will lead you to Jesus. Jesus said, “I’ve come to seek and to save the lost,” – not the church. Jesus indicated by his stop at the well that you’ve got to get where people are! Where do water toters go? That’s where Jesus was!
Any notion that Jesus is about “the body” doesn’t understand it! A body that sits around and just eats itself is not a body, it’s a tumor!
Who did Abraham tithe to? Who helped Moses find a wife, a job and kept him from screwing up the Exodus? Outsiders! God apparently was at work in other people groups as well! God’s redemptive mission is always being played out in the world, beyond his people. Who was Jonah told to go preach to? God continually tells His people that He will work in the entire world. Israel refused her commission and was swallowed up in captivity. Then they were puked out and ordered to share with the world. Then they pouted when things didn’t work out the way they want. Same with the church.
Church folks want to go out and remind God to leave Oprah alone and get back into the walls of the church. How dare He work outside?
The church in Acts had a high expectation membership class… Are people gonna have to become church people to get the gospel? It’s the same today! Look at Acts 15! We say, “That’s how you prove it’s really real. You have to become one of us.” But why would we do that when we know how screwed up we are?
There is a reason for the church. Genesis 12, when God makes the promise to Abraham reveals God’s redemptive mission to the world. He has decided to cut a group of people in on the deal. Abraham was blessed to bless everyone who was not like him. This is why churches should quit evangelizing. Get a blessing strategy rather than an evangelism strategy. It’s not about “random acts of kindness” but about intentional acts of kindness. Don’t make them wonder why. Be ready to give them an answer for the hope that is in you!
In spite of the fact that we don’t deserve it, God is for us! All of us!
You’ll have to tell your folks how to bless people, cause they don’t know how. One of the main ways is to teach them to pray for others. Most of our churches are too secular for our culture. We have a God-intoxicated culture.
The church has the worst pick-up lines ever. “Hey, did you know you’re going to hell? Let me take you back to meet the family, and I’ll tell you all about it. By the way, you need to change what you’re wearing.”
“My tribe is just full of Pharisees who think that you can clean fish before you catch ’em.”
We have to show people that all the good things that happen in their life happens because of God’s love for them.
In a kingdom worldview, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not in control. There are more non-conversion success stories than others. In a kingdom view, you’ve gotta trust God with people and trust people with God. If the King says, “Pick that up here and put it down here,” then do it, and know that you’ve done your job. Our job is not to convict or change people. God says, “You give me the body, and I’ll do the heavy lifting.”
McNeal shared that much of today’s talk can be found here.
It was one of the most amazing “talking-to’s” I’ve ever heard. While we were essentially being rebuked, we were also laughing our heads off. McNeal had a wonderful, pastoral but sarcastically-insightful way to penetrate religious leaders’ defenses with truth and awareness. I’m bringing home the audio CD for our church lead team to digest.