As I mentioned in the introduction, there is no model for how to do this — not in the sense that we leaders think of church models. We want a “how to” book with pre-printed literature for classes. Maybe even a poster we can buy to hang in the foyer. Maybe an expert we can hire with all the answers. But it’s not going to happen.
6. Neither Missional nor Simple is a church model.
Frankly, the proclivity of leaders to look for another church model is a sign of the church’s shallowness, not its maturity. …
All types of churches should be simply missional. What we are advocating is for church leaders to distill their ideology of what church is to the irreducible minimum that defines a church as God’s gathered people, sent to a particular community as His redemptive gift to that community.
We need all types of missional churches–big, small, traditional, contemporary, with country music (did we say that?), hip-hop, some with guitars, some with organs. We need churches in homes and churches in well-marked buildings.
The container is not the issue. The issue is not staying contained.
All types of churches should seek to release their people to be missionaries in the culture. And all types of churches need a discipleship process based on knowing and doing. We believe having a process for discipleship is essential in any effective church model and that process must contain an equal amount of lab work and classroom study. We believe any effective church model will challenge and cause their people to be missional.
Oh, wow. I need to buy that book! But I have it — several copies of it, in various translations, some with concordances and maps in the back. It’s not about methods so much as discipleship.
Now, “discipleship” is one of those words that becomes a buzzword every decade or two, with each version reflecting a different meaning.
I don’t mean “disciple” in the sense of being dominated by church leaders. That’s not scriptural discipleship.
Nor do I mean “disciple” in the sense of student — although being a student is part of it (as is submission).
Nor do I mean “disciple” in the sense of undertaking a dozen spiritual disciplines. Discipline is part of the discipleship — but not its definition.
Rather, being a disciple means being a disciple of Jesus — in the sense that the apostles were disciples. They studied at his feet and prayed with him, and they walked with him among the people. And when they were ready, Jesus sent them to go out and spread the gospel and help those in need — in teams.
And later, Jesus sent them out to make more disciples, who’d go with them and be sent out by them. And those newly minted disciples were expected to do the very same thing.
This is a definition we run from because it scares us. And it should. But it’s the only definition that’s even remotely true to the Bible.
We need to keep whatever programs help us make and be disciples — and don’t get in the way of making and being disciples. We eliminate all the rest. We should be ruthless in so doing, and we should deal with church politics by calling our members to discipleship — not by compromising with selfishness.
But then, realizing how much our human natures struggle to change, we take enough time to do it all gently and lovingly. But we do it.
It’s simple. And it’s missional.