In his book entitled Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, Michael Frost suggests that people generally live out their lives between three distinct places: Home, Work and a third place. For many Christians, their third place is church and church activities. (He goes on to suggest a deep interconnectedness between this reality and the decline of the church.) While many Christians spend their free time engaged in religious activities with religious people, most everyone else has traditionally found their third place in spaces like bowling alleys, pool halls, mothers' groups, local pubs, and beauty parlors.
Identifying the third places of your community will tell you a lot about the people you are seeking to reach. Furthermore, it identifies for you the places your church must go if you are to reach them. People don't have time for a fourth place. That is what the church isn't getting.
Some helpful questions for determining the community's third places might be: How do people spend their free time? Is there a thriving night life? Recreational lifestyle? Performing arts community? Professional sports team? Family culture?
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Aaron Loy has some Questions to Ask of the City for church planters who want to begin a new work. These are good questions for anyone who wants to serve their community. His first question is: "Where are the third places?" (HT: Guy Muse).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
If missional isn't missionary, than what's the point? But being missionary in our culture isn't likely something that can be measured the same way as the North American church has typically done it. David Fitch speaks of the slower process that is entailed in a "missionary approach":
I argue that a conversion of a post-Christendom "pagan," who has had little to no exposure to the language and story of Christ in Scripture, requires five years of relational immersion before a decision would even make sense. If you do not have this immersion/context, any decision that is made is prone to be a consumerist one. It in essence is a consumerist decision. It is made based on the perceived immediate benefit. It lasts as long as this perceived benefit remains important. It does not lead to discipleship. I believe it takes five years to provide such a context for someone totally foreign to the gospel. I suggest therefore that true missionary conversions, which I suggest missional churches are after, take much longer periods of time than the kind of conversions that are most often generated through mega church. For I believe that the mega church is largely appealing their message to people who once grew up as a child in old forms of church and know the Story but quit going to church. These now "unchurched people" require the old messages to somehow be made more relevant. These unchurched need to be be "revived" or called back into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just different and we should recognize that. We should also recognize there is less and less of these kind of unchurched people left to make church more relevant to. The bottom line is then, if we would reach the lost souls of post Christendom, the church in N America must go missional, incarnational, organic. We must become intertwined with those we seek to reach. Yet this will take time and appear to be highly inefficient in the terms we have become used to in the church growth/mega church world.I'm not sure about the "five year" statement, but I get the point. As David Wayne comments:
I think that what Fitch is getting at in terms of the time element, is the reality of living in a post-Christian world. Post-Christians are not merely ignorant of Christianity, they are hostile to it, thus there are more walls to break down. It is the situation that C. S. Lewis spoke of when he said: “A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcee. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism."
Sunday, May 18, 2008
One new (witty) feature at Alan Knox's blog is a look at Scripture ... As We Live It.
The purpose of this feature is to get us to think about what Scripture says compared to how we actually live and what our traditions teach. Since I'm very interested in ecclesiology, many of these passages will deal with the church....
So, without further ado, here is the first Scripture... As We Live It:
What then, brothers? When you come together,
each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretationfind a place to sit, sing along with the band or choir, and listen to the preacher. Let all things be done for building upas prescribed by your leaders. (1 Corinthians 14:26 remix)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Michael Patton provides an overview (with chart) on What Do You Mean “God is Sovereign”? Four Options.
Here are the four primary options:
1. Meticulous sovereignty: God is the instrumental cause behind every action and reaction there has ever been. In other words, you chose white socks instead of the black socks because God caused it to happen. You have an itch on your eyebrow right now because God is actively causing it. In other words, every molecule that bounces into another is a result of God active agency in being the first and instrumental cause to the action....
2. Providential sovereignty: While God is bringing about his will in everything (Eph 1:11), his will is not the instrumental cause of all that happens. God’s will plays a providential role in “causing” all things. In other words, all that happens happens because God did in some sense will it, but secondary causes are usually the instrumental cause behind the action. In the case of your socks, you chose them because you decided to, but it was also part of God’s will. God allows evil as it is part of his imperfect will to bring about a perfect end, but he is not the instrumental cause of evil....
3. Providential oversight: Here God’s sovereignty is more of an oversight. He has a general plan, but is not married to the details. When necessary, God will intervene in the affairs of humanity to bring about his purpose, but this does not necessarily involve an intimate engagement with all that happens. God does not care what color socks you pick unless it somehow effects his meta plan....
4. Influential oversight: Here God’s sovereignty is self-limited. God could control things, but to preserve human freedom, he will not intervene in the affairs of men to the degree that the human will is decisively bent in one direction or another. He is hopeful that his influence will be persuasive to change a person’s heart or to guide them to his will, but is not sure if this will happen. Being all-wise, however, God will make strategic moves in people’s lives that will manipulate the situation to his advantage.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Sunday, May 04, 2008
I've linked before to articles on the Lord's Prayer. Here's another one: The Lord's Prayer by Rick Phillips.
The longer I live as a Christian and serve as a pastor, the more impressed I am with the value of careful attention to Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer. Many, if not most, Christians struggle with prayer. Two reasons come to mind. The first is that we live in a time when prayer is not strongly emphasized, in part because most of us do not have great troubles in life, at least outwardly so. The second reason is a perennial one, namely, the warfare between the flesh and the spirit. Prayer simply is difficult and it requires attention and effort. This is precisely why I find the Lord’s prayer to be so helpful....Then after examining the prayer, Phillips writes:
Let me encourage you to look to the Lord’s Prayer for a well-balanced, rightly prioritized prayer life. And let me encourage you to pray. What a difference it makes to our lives when we spend time with the Lord, and what a pleasure it is for Him to fellowship with our trusting hearts.