Saturday, April 29, 2006

Any Models Out There?

The questions from last week's post are very good! Are there any missional disciple-making models? Are there any historical models?

I think the closest thing I've seen is the "T-Life" model that Bob Roberts talks about in his book Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World. Most disciple-making models focus on "knowledge" instead of transformation. What I like about the "T-Life" model is that it is about a "culture" of transformation. It mobilizes people immediately into action. Most Western models sit people in classrooms or small groups for a season before they are "equipped" to do anything. Bob disagrees with that. He thinks people can be mobilized immediately. I agree. In fact, I think they can start being mobilized before they even cross the line of salvation.

Bob's is an action-based model. It reminds me of the old book by Douglas Hyde Dedication and Leadership. I think a vision for kingdom transformation and action-based disciple-making is key to making missional disciples. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Making Missional Disciples

"The missional church is a community where all members are learning what it means to be disciples of Jesus." (Guder)

I have come to the conviction that we will not have a missional church unless we are intentional about making missional disciples. A missional church is one where its members are serious about following Jesus. Dallas Willard has said that our churches are full of converts who do not intend to become disciples. This is not a missional church.

In our training we ask the question "How will we measure success?" The institutional church measures success with the 3 "B's": bodies, budgets, and buildings. The missional church measures success by how well we are making and sending real disciples! The missional church does not measure success by its capacity to retain, but by its capacity to release. Are we developing mature disciples who can be released to impact their world in real ways?

Most evangelical churches take the Bible somewhat seriously. But not all Bible study is missional! In fact, it is possible to be biblically centered, to expect and to experience biblical preaching, and not to be a church that acknowledges, much less practices, its missional calling. (Guder) Discipling in the North American church is rarely focused on mission.

For most Western Christians the church is a "free-time activity." It exists to serve its members, so members come and go as they "have need." Even when we attend Bible studies, we usually approach them with a self-gratifying agenda. The missional formation of a congregation is directly related to the value they place on the Bible AND the way in which the Bible shapes the community of faith.

How do we read and hear the Bible? Our engagement with it is always defined by the questions we bring to it. For most Western Christians the question we bring is "What can I get out of this?"

Where missional development is happening, different kinds of questions are brought to the Bible. Congregations are open to being challenged, to looking hard at their deeply ingrained attitudes and expectations. The missional disciple asks "How does God's Word call, shape, transform, and send me/us?" Missional formation results as we allow the Bible to transform and send us! That's how we must measure success. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Missional Church: A New Mental Model

“Missional Church” is truly the buzz today. I hear more and more people talking about the “missional church.” However, it is clear to me that not everyone means the same thing. This makes me think about the power of mental models.

All of us have our own mental models of church. Peter Senge defines a mental model like this: “Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior.”

Many of the people I hear talking about “missional church” still have an old mental model of something that I would not really consider missional. It is often more like an old “church growth” mental model.

One of our colleagues, Robert Westheimer, defines missional as “a state of being sent or called into action, e.g. ‘on mission.’” I like that! However, just being on mission to grow your church is not what I believe a missional church to be. As I’ve mentioned before, a missional church is one where every member is a missionary, following God’s calling into the world, whether it be your workplace, a neglected area of the city, a global focus, or all of the above.

What does a new mental model of “missional church” look like? Do I really have a new mental model of “missional church?” Do you? Are we aware enough of our mental models that we can see where they are and are not missional? What do you think?