I was sent a copy of Breaking the Missional Code by the authors for review on this blog. As a lover of books and gifts, this immediately endears me to both of these men. My feelings about the book are mixed.
On one hand, I really liked the general premise of the book. A major focus of the book is that we need to think like missionaries as we try to shape a church community for the culture we are in. The book is very practical in its approach to this issue. This was my favorite take-away from Ed Stetzer’s previous book — Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age (recently reissued as Planting Missional Churches) — and I am glad to see them explore this idea further. I do agree that the role of the church leaders is not to implement their favorite things from other churches they have seen, but to understand the culture that they are in and create a church community that can connect with that culture.
On the other hand, I would have liked a bit more groundwork laid on what it means to be missional. My understanding of being missional is that it is far more than just how to approach the community you are in like a missionary, and so it differs from the authors. I see a missional community as one that is trying to embody and continue the mission and ministry of Jesus, whereas I feel like the main question that this book approaches is how to present the message of Jesus within your community. Certainly a presentation of Jesus’ message is a part of the mission of the church, but it is not the entirety of it.
This is the first book I’m aware of that begins to lay some practical groundwork for shaping a missional community.For someone trying to understand how to be a missional leader in a missional community, this book has lots of practical insights that make it worth reading. But for a more complete understanding of what it means to be a missional church, I would recommend it be read in conjunction The Present Future, The Shaping of Things to Come, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, and Missional Church (all of which are cited at least once by Stetzer and Putnam).