Simply Missional: Introduction

Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger wrote an article called “Simply Missional” for Neue magazine. They make some great points I thought I’d reflect on in the next few posts.

Background

Stetzer is a Baptist pastor, author of several books, and consultant on church growth and evangelism.

Geiger, of course, wrote the Simple Church, a highly influential book that demonstrated statistically that churches with a simpler format — fewer events per week, more highly focused — grow more than churches with a more traditional “full service” format.

Consider, for example, Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church in Atlanta, which expects members to attend a weekly worship service and a weekly small group. They do not ask their members to attend Sunday morning classes or Sunday or Wednesday night services, other than the small group ministry. Moreover, some churches go so far as to include parenting or marriage seminars in the small group curriculum rather than having extra events. They figure they need to reduce the routine demands on their members in order to allow time for what’s most important.

Now, the shortcoming of Simple Church, in my view, is that it doesn’t answer the obvious question: simplify in order to do what instead? I mean, some churches simplify to give their members more free time — family time. Members worship and meet in homes to eat hamburgers and discuss the morning’s sermon, and that’s it. Such a church may accomplish every bit as much as a more traditional church, with three weekly services, visitation night, and countless additional events — but that’s only because the traditional church isn’t accomplishing that much!

Rather, the tough question is how/whether we can be simple in our weekly format while being highly missional. Can a church that takes up less time just doing church actually spend more time making a difference? 

One of the best tests of whether your church is being effectively missional — being a part of God’s mission — is to ask this question: If your church closed its doors tomorrow, other than your members, would anyone notice?

And I would add: would anyone notice other than those to whom you give money? Do you do more than send money to missionaries or to other worthy causes? Not that sending money is wrong or useless. It’s not. It’s just not enough. We can’t buy our way into heaven.

Stetzer’s and Geiger’s introduction

They begin by comparing Dell Computers to traditional businesses. Dell doesn’t warehouse computer. You can’t make money on a computer sitting on a shelf! Rather, they receive components the same day they make the computer and ship the computer the same day they make it.

 

Sadly many churches are betting their futures on the warehouse myth.

Most churches build big warehouses and shelve a bunch of Christians (those rows look suspiciously like shelves). They design attractive programs to “retain” people in the sacred warehouse, keep precise records of how much inventory (people) is on the shelves, and brag about their warehouses being constantly open. And warehouse managers love to show other warehouse managers their newest warehouses while dreaming together of bigger and better warehouses.

God is calling churches to shatter the warehouse myth, to change their warehouses into strategic distribution centers, where people are distributed as salt and light to the world–sending them out on mission. Some churches are strategically challenging their people to be out there, and these churches have a strategic and simple process that moves people from the warehouse to the street. These churches are simple and missional.

They are simply missional.

Ah … now wouldn’t it be great if we could do less church and more mission? And how would that even look in the Church of Christ context?

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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3 Responses to Simply Missional: Introduction

  1. Joe Bagget says:

    .For those of us in the churches of Christ it means re-learning what mission actually means. We can drag people to the Baptistery all day long and never make one single disciple. When we realize that transformation is at the heart of what is means to be missional we will get around our paradigms. The difference is in the function. Their events, gatherings, small groups and are centered on transformation. They are not uptight! The function of transformation is essential ingredient. It seems that a significant number of churches of Christ can't grasp this concept. They spend their time arguing with each other over the future of a Restoration movement which is dead. Or trying to convince their religious neighbors that they are doctrinally incorrect. This is their mission. Now it is easy to see how people can attend a church of Christ their whole life and never go through any significant transformation in the areas of love, joy peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love this statement from the website “The People formerly known as The Congregation” it speaks to me of our short sighted ways our true beliefs which have more to do with paying a mortgages and preachers than giving hope to the community.

    “You offered us a myriad of programs to join – volunteer positions to assuage our desire to be connected. We could be greeters, parking lot attendants, coffee baristas, book store helpers, children's ministry workers, media ministry drones – whatever you needed to fulfill your dreams of corporate glory. Perhaps you've noticed, we aren't there anymore.”

  3. Pingback: Simply Missional - Review with Commentary « The Outpost

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