Archive for category Evangelism/Mission
This is a powerful indictment on the contemporary church and our superficial level of commitment to the cause of being part of community-on-mission to reach our world. I’m praying that true communitas – a deeper togetherness formed around a shared mission or struggle — will characterized MainStreet in the days to come. Here’s Paul De Neui’s conclusion in his essay,
“Christian Communitas In The Missio Dei: Living Faithfully in the Tension between Cultural Osmosis and Alienation“
“Connecting with the missio Dei, partnering with a cause greater than oneself, and experiencing communitas would appear to be a natural fit for the church. Christian communitas and its byproduct of Christian community is at least an ideal, if not a reality in most churches. Would not the opportunity to partner in God’s greater mission and to deepen relation with God, with each other, and the world be attractive? In his book A World Waiting to Be Born M. Scott Peck shares his experience when he developed the Foundation for Community Encouragement (FCE), an organization dedicated to promoting his version of genuine transformative community.
When we began FCE, we assumed that the church would be a natural market for its services. Christians generally knew that the early church seemed to have had an extraordinary amount of community. . . . Many clergy and laypeople bemoaned the lack of community within their churches. . . . What organization could possibly be more interested in welcoming the presence of God into its midst?
The results within the church were disappointing. Churches showed virtually no interest in building a deeper sense of commitment to each other or their surrounding culture. After analyzing possible reasons for this resistance, Peck concludes:
Community requires a great deal of time and work. The workplace is the center of most people’s lives. Next comes the family. Church, if it comes in at all, is usually a poor third or fourth. Most churchgoers simply do not have the time to “do” community at church. Nor do they want to do the painful work of emotionally stretching at church that community requires. The few whomake attempts to actualize the church as a place of the Kingdom of God on earth may find themselves silenced by the congregation with an enormously powerful, subtle effectiveness. Read the rest of this entry »
“There is a story by Kukrit Pramoj, former prime minister and leading Buddhist scholar from Thailand, based on the New Testament account of a man born blind whom he called Simon. The story describes the difficult life of blind young Simon and how, upon the death of his father, life became desperate. Simon began to beg in the streets to support his widowed mother. One day a fruit vendor named Ruth took pity on him. She led him to the market where he was able to increase his income. Through Ruth’s eyes and kind descriptions the world became full of color and beauty to him for the first time. Eventually they fell in love.
One day Ruth heard that a man named Jesus from Nazareth would be passing by. The miraculous reputation of this Jesus had preceded him so that when he came near Simon cried out, “Lord! Son of David! Please help me to see!” And he was healed.
Turning towards the one he most wanted to see, Simon was disappointed to find that Ruth was nowhere to be found. But what did he see? The filth of a poor Asian market, debris in muddy piles, bodies of animals lying unburied emitting a stench never noticed before, crowds of people bathed in sweat, vendors’ fatigued faces, cruelty, malnourishment, and death.
Closing his eyes he retraced his way home, but the ancient, toothless woman who answered the door praising God for her son’s healing repulsed him. Making his way to Ruth’s home where she was hiding, Simon insisted that she show herself. At last she opened the door, but his joy turned to immediate fear and disgust. There stood his beloved Ruth so hideously deformed by a burn that he could not stand to look at her. Finally he saw Jesus crucified. Falling on his knees Simon cried, “Oh God, give me back my blindness!” Read the rest of this entry »
The article below by Lindy Lowly called The Church’s Sleeping Giant aptly captures the missional philosophy driving the vision and approach of MainStreet. This is why we exist – short and simple. Most church-goers simply don’t understand how our approach is different than the standard “come to us” model of church. I hope this article drives home the absolute necessity for more new churches to shift their models to reach those who will not come to church-as-usual. Or, as we say repeatedly at MainStreet, “In a culture where most will not COME to church, the church needs to GO to them.” Enjoy and share with others! -JB
Across America, growing numbers of national church leaders are starting to voice what they describe as a “holy discontent.” The idea of growing their church larger and larger is no longer appealing, they say, especially as they face the truth that no matter how large their church gets, they’ll still miss an estimated 60 percent of people in the U.S. (187 million) who won’t set foot in a church.
A Missionary Problem
Today’s church has a strategic problem and a missionary problem, say Dave Ferguson and Alan Hirsch, authors of On the Verge: A Journey Into the Future of the Apostolic Church.
“Most churches are built on a model of people coming to our churches and us offering a positive church experience,” Ferguson says. “The good news is that about 40 to 50 percent of the population still wants that. The bad news is that the other 60 percent are not looking for that at all.”
Until recently, the church retained a significant cultural connection with the society around it. Most people were within the cultural orbit of the church and open to being influenced by the ideas that energized the church. Most church leaders know that’s not the case anymore. The prevailing, contemporary church-growth approach will have significant appeal to only about an estimated 40 percent of the American population.
“Because we’ve been stuck in this model for so long, we’ve forgotten that we are meant to be a missionary people, a sending people,” Ferguson says. “We are meant to go outside the walls of the church and be the church. We are designed to go into the world and bring Good News to the 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
In the original context of this parable of the King throwing a wedding party for his son, there were grievous consequences for refusing the king’s invitation. This was a great insult to the king.
I am struck with the king’s unrelenting determination to have the wedding hall filled with guests. These images point to a God who also is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” and be saved. Those who are excluded from the Kingdom and the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, are excluded by their own choice.
Yet, O, how the church needs to imitate the King’s desperate attempts to fill his house for the party! God wants his churches filled with worshipers today as well. He is not content with a hand full of the faithful while many pews sit empty Sunday after Sunday. And we, his servants, are called to “go to the street corners” and invite anyone we can find! We are not to show partiality in our invitations. We are not to discriminate saying, “Oh, they would never come to church.” We need to invite “the bad as well as the good” — and that means risking the invitation to our coarse coworker, our foul-mouthed neighbor, our too-busy, excuse-ridden friends, the town gossip, and the brawler from the bar.
But the bottom line message for the church today in this parable seems to be: Go. Go out. Go out into the streets. Go out into the streets and make disciples. This is a timely reminder as Easter approaches when people are more open to coming to God’s banquet to celebrate the Risen Son!
Let us go. Let us go.
While the day is aglow.
Let us get back to our fishing!
I want to commend David Mathis’ challenge to Christians as we approach Halloween this year. Thanks, Nancy, for sending me this.
What if a crisp October wind blew through “the way we’ve always done things” at Halloween? What if the Spirit stirred in us a new perspective on October 31? What if dads led their households in a fresh approach to Halloween as Christians on mission?
What if spreading a passion for God’s supremacy in all things included Halloween—that amalgamation of wickedness now the second-largest commercial holiday in the West?
Loving Others and Extending Grace
What if we didn’t think of ourselves as “in the world, but not of it,” but rather, as Jesus says in John 17, “not of the world, but sent into it”?
And what if that led us to move beyond our squabbles about whether or not we’re free to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and the main issue became whether our enjoyment of Jesus and his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness might incline us to think less about our private enjoyments and more about how we might love others? What if we took Halloween captive—along with “every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5)—as an opportunity for gospel advance and bringing true joy to the unbelieving?
And what if those of us taking this fresh approach to Halloween recognized that Christians hold a variety of views about Halloween, and we gave grace to those who see the day differently than we do?
Without Naiveté or Retreat
What if we didn’t merely go with the societal flow and unwittingly float with the cultural tide into and out of yet another Halloween? What if we didn’t observe the day with the same naïveté as our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers?
And what if we didn’t overreact to such nonchalance by simply withdrawing? What if Halloween wasn’t a night when Christians retreated in disapproval, but an occasion for storming the gates of hell?
This is a repost I thought worth sharing again. -JB
I had a great conversation today with an old high school friend. She is a not a Christian, very unreligious and, as she said herself, “totally clueless when it comes to religion, Christianity, church, the Bible and stuff.” So, while she is not conversant in things spiritual, she is extremely passionate and articulate in two other realms of life: outdoor/wilderness sports and physical healthy and fitness.
She can talk for days about backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking and so on. As she put it, “I feel most alive when out in nature.” Furthermore, she has advanced degrees in physical therapy and is passionate about the pursuit of physical health and wellness. I would say she is downright “evangelistic” about this topic.
In other words, we have very different interests. She is most alive being physically active outdoors in nature. I am most alive when exercising my mind muscles while indoors surrounded by books. (Now that spring is almost here, I will soon be bringing my books outside to read!)
I wanted to bridge the gap between our very different passions in life, and guide the conversation to things spiritual. As we talked I discovered that there was a very natural connecting point between us just waiting for me to point out to her. You see, whenever we see each other (maybe once a year) she is always concerned about our physical health. She asks if so-and-so has lost the weight they had put on, and if I am staying physically active and working out. (Do I look fat to you?) She is deeply, genuinely and passionately concerned — and not afraid to share it. Read the rest of this entry »
This post was written on the fishing opener on May 15.
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:16-17)
I came home tonight around 11 p.m. I noticed the bait shop still open and thought, “That’s strange,” but then didn’t think anymore of it. I then decided it was a great night for a prayer walk to the gym under the stars. For this is a significant day for Keri and I — more on that soon.
As I walked the bike path and drew near to the Seton Channel bridge I heard voices below and saw many lights in the water. I saw both sides of the channel lined with fishing boats and finally remembered that it was 11:52 p.m. on the eve of the fishing opener! It’s obvious that I’m not a fisherman — or at least the usual kind. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a great evangelism resource from James Choung. Can you articulate the full story of the gospel and what God’s doing in the world in Christ through the church? Here’s a great start.