I don't have a dog in this intra-Reformed fight, but isn't it sort of limit the definition of "missional" to converting people who were never Christian before?E.g., the author of Hebrews writes, "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness" (Heb 3.12-13)."Encouragement" (parakaleo) saves souls, although those souls are of those who are already Christian.To be sure, I am critical of "youth ministry," but what's wrong with Keller et al. ministering to now-unchurched (and, hence, unencouraged) young adults who were "Christianized" by youth ministries when they were younger? Are their souls any less in need of saving just because they're apostasized Christians rather than never-believers?I'd say that the church's "mission" is "discipling" the nations. To reduce that to making converts is like reducing child-raising to giving birth. Of necessity, far more time and energy go into raising children than giving birth to children. So, too, I think that the church should be unembarassed when most of her resources are devoted to the necessary task of discipling the those whom God has given to her. (Which is not to say that she shouldn't be giving birth to new Christians at the same time.)Indeed, I wonder if pastors focus so intentionally on "outreach" because they've largedly failed to disciple their congregations. After all, discipled people will make converts just as a matter of course (1 Peter 3.1, 1 Co 14.25).I'm not talking about you, of course.
Jim,In a so called "spiritual formation" church that was using the term missional quite often, I actually heard the pastor tell the people that he is not a waiter. They are to feed themselves. He's a coach, but never a waiter. Never to feed them. So, the idea is to bring them in and then they are to feed themselves. There is no shepherding of the sheep. At least that is what I saw in one church. Also, I recall the church was focused on youth and young families often at the expense of other groups. Everyone was to turn to the youth and meet their needs. Nothing wrong with teaching the youth...but everyone needs some food. If the message is dumbed down for seekers only, it's a problem. Small groups even became, "here's a DVD, anyone can pop it in and lead a small group." How many times people are given fast and easy teaching that is not even based on bible truth when they are coming to small groups because they are yearning to hear the truth? What a waste! Of course, this might not at all be what "missional" is about, it's just what I saw. I understand it's not really about "missions" but is more "God's mission." Except there are also "visions" for the church that come from the pastors or other leaders. How are we to know they are actually the mission of God? Shame on me for not trutsting in these men (okay, sorry I am being snarky here).Blessings!
Powerful thoughts Christian Lady. I too was involved in a mega church where there was little emphasis on “rightly handling the Word of Truth.” The youth group was huge in numbers, but almost no discipleship training. It seemed to me they were more interested in eating pizza and playing games than learning how to be followers and disciples of Christ. For several years I mentored the Middle High kids and what I observed, was the stench of spoiled milk and fouled baby food! As I strived to speak the WORD in truth and in love what I heard all too often was “Pastor _______ doesn’t believe that way. And I believe the him.”
Good points in this. Definitely 3 major points that people stay away from when discussing the neo-Reformed/missional church...the "draw" of the charismatic preacher (Fitch), the lack of focus on education and the shying away from the most glaring issues (abortion) and focusing on "food justice". None of the points are bad in and of themselves but they things that should not become idols or out of place. I'm glad someone pointed these things out while everyone else is saying "they're culturally relevant and no one else is reaching x group, so it must be good". It also makes me thankful for a diversity of pastors and elders that lead and teach at Redeemer, HCA, and the mention of issues that the members at Redeemer have brought up with me in my own discussions with them.
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