I read Missional Church by Darrell Guder this past week. Lots of great thinking going on in this book. It’s mildly disjointed to read, because it has six different authors, but actually flows pretty well in light of that. Below are a few highlights from the book in italics, along with some of my own thoughts.
Describing the danger of a people approaching church from the consumer mentality that pervades North American culture: At the very least, this producer-consumer model separates its notion of church (a religious firm producing and marketing religious products and services) from its members (potential and hopefully committed customers consuming those products and services). Members are ultimately distanced in this model from their own communal calling to be a body of people sent on a mission. (pg 85)
The most likely location for an answer to these questions in the mission of Jesus. His mission, after all, represents the most direct and complete expression of God’s mission in the world. Therefore the church’s own mission must take its cues from the way God’s mission unfolded in the sending of Jesus into the world for its salvation. (pg 102) — Along the same lines as what I described here, we must understand fully the work of Jesus in his context to understand the calling we have in ours.
The more accurately the church locates the key points of difference between its surrounding culture and that culture called for by the reign of God, the more faithfully the church lives a distinctively holy life in its place. And the more the church lives such distinctive faithfulness, the more visible the reign of God will be for all to see. … In like manner, churches that listen to sermons deploring crime may be faithful in attending to God’s call for right relationships among humanity. But the church that sets up victim-offender reconciliation programs and promotes equitable economic opportunities for communities where crime is the main escape route from financial despair is not only faithful but a remarkable light to the world, a city on a hill. (pg 129)
The church’s task of announcing the reign of God will mean moving beyond the four walls of the church building, out of the safe group of people who know and love each other, into the public square. The missional church will be in the world with good news. (pg 137) Few would disagree with this, but few churches are doing it effectively. Can the church best do this as a community, or does it need to be a community that equips those within it to go out? Does it have to be either/or? Along these lines, this book mentioned Journey Inward, Journey Outward and the work of Church of the Savior several times.
Many people within North America view the Christian life from an individualistic or, at best, an organizational perspective. Yet to be true to its divine mission to embody and proclaim God’s reign, the communal body called the church is the central and foundational unit of societal life for Christians. (pg 158) … The church is not simply a gathering of well-meaning individuals who have entered into a contract to meet their privately defined self-interests. It is, instead, an intentional and disciplined community witnessing to the power and the presence of God’s reign. (pg 159) — I am coming to believe that the church places too much emphasis on community. Because of the hunger for it in our culture, churches have made it a goal. In reality, however, community is not something that we should try to create, but rather, it is a natural by-product as the church goes about doing it’s work in the world.
Missional leaders must understand their context and interpret that context to the church so that a faithful and relevant witness emerges. (pg 189) It is far too easy for us to simply react to symptoms of what we see in culture. Missional leaders must dig deep into what is causing those symptons to fully understand what is going on in the culture around us so that we can expose it in light of the gospel.