Friday, 9 November 2007

Missional community

Do mission weeks and evangelistic events work? Well, I don't mean to say they don't, but I can't help feeling that they are increasingly ineffective in the culture we live in. We tend to pour in a lot of energy and resources into them but actually see very little fruit in terms of real conversions. I think they are decreasingly effective for several reasons.

1. Such approaches seem to work better in a culture of Christendom where much of the basic Christian worldview is still present and 'decisions' become easier. Our culture is not like that any more.

2. They tend to implicitly compartmentalize gospel communication (even though we don't want to) to a certain parts of a calendar.

3. They tend to focus explaining the gospel in doctrinal, systematic ways only.

4. They abstract gospel witness from community life and relationships.

5. Gospel communication becomes an event rather than an ongoing witness.

6. The vast majority of people need a long time to become Christians and so they will need to have much more significant contact than simply a mission week.

In contrast to this approach is the idea of church as 'missional community'. This means:

1. Gospel communication to outsiders/insiders is a part of everything you do and every gathering. We are always addressing the issues of our culture and objections of our culture - they are often our hidden issues as well. The gospel is not just seen as systematic doctrines to be believed but a hermeneutic that shapes all teaching and activity.

2. This communication is grounded in community life, so that people are invited to see the community in action and relationships in action. This means that the quality of our community life is actually a key apologetic and context for the gospel. We don't therefore just need to invite people to events but simply invite them into what the community is doing together. Hospitality is something the whole church does as a body. The goal if for gospel communication to occur at every point and in every context - both formally and informally.