So far, The Shaping of Things to Come is living up to the opening paragraph. I’m only about a fourth of the way through it, but it has been so good, I figured I’d better start sharing some highlights now. If I waited until I finished the book like I usually do, it might be a very long post. Here’s some thoughts from the book, with comments by me after a few of them:
- Pg 13 – (No quote here, I’m just capturing a concept from the book worth sharing.) We need to think of the church in terms of diaspora rather than institution. What a great idea! Much like the Jewish diaspora, we are the faithful who are scattered all over the world, taking the gospel with us as we go.
- Pg 17 – “A missional church is the hope of the post-Christendom era. Many of the new Protestant church movements of recent years are simply variations of the old Christendom mode. Whether they place their emphasis on new worship styles, expressions of the Holy Spirit’s power, evangelism to seekers, or Bible teaching, these so-called new movements still operate out of the fallacious assumption that the church belongs firmly in the town square, that is, at the heart of Western culture. And if they begin with this mistaken belief about their position in Western society, all their church planting, all their reproduction will simply mirror this misapprehension.” – Dean and I are trying to figure out how to approach the Northwest as a missions field. If we only approach Pathways as a new church in a new area, we stand a good chance of completely missing the culture that is there. This also relates to the following two thoughts…
- Pg 18 – “By duplicating a failing system, we are digging the same hole deeper in our attempt to dig somewhere else. In fact, it’s more often than not been the case that Sunday services are planted rather than missional Jesus communities.”
- Pg 19 – “Nonetheless, when we say it is a flaw for the church to be attractional, we refer more to the stance the church takes in its community. … How much of the traditional church’s energy goes into adjusting their programs and their public meetings to cater to an unseen constituency? If we get our seating, our parking, our children’s program, our preaching, and our music right, they will come. This assumes that we have a place in our society and that people join our churches because, though they want to be Christians, they’re unhappy with the product. The missional church recognizes that it does not hold a place of honor in its host community and that its missional imperative compels it to move out from itself into that host community as salt and light.”
- Pg 19 – “This dualism has over 1700 years created Christians that cannot relate their interior faith to their exterior practice, and this effects their ethics, their lifestyles, and their capacity to share their faith meaningfully with others.”
- Pg 26 – “If we come to plant a church in a particular area, we’re not perceived as doing anyone any favors. But if we’re starting a café, an internet launderette, or a day-care center, we’re seen as bringing some intrinsic value to a community. We’re serving those to whom we’re sent.” – In what ways can we begin churches so that those in the community see that we are bringing value to the community, and not simply a moral police station?
- Pg 41 – “In fact, this is one of the core assumptions that the attractional church is based upon — the assumption that God cannot really be accessed outside sanctioned church meetings or, at least, that these meetings are the best place for not-yet-Christians to learn about God. Evangelism therefore is primarily about mobilizing church members to attract unbelievers into church where they can experience God. Rather than being genuine ‘out-reach,’ it effectively becomes something more like an ‘in-drag.'”
- Pg 58 – “Supporting those who proclaim the gospel, when applied to Western culture today, could be a healthy corrective for many people for whom the cycle of work, family, and church is so consuming that they never have time for building friendships with not-yet-Christians. Ironically, full-time clergy in the traditional-attractional churches often find themselves so run off their feet with the busyness of serving on various committees, attending myriad meetings, and running worship services, that they have very few social contacts with unbelievers.” – I’ve heard that one of the joys of church planting is the opportunity to spend a lot of time with those outside the church. However, usually by the second year, the church planter in completely engrossed in maintaining the church as described above. How can I find a proper balance in this?
More to come…