Attractional Church Pastor Slams Missional Church
I was debating on whether to toss out a response to some questionable comments made by an attractional/mega church pastor in the States. I don’t know much about him nor his church, and simply be blogging gives the issue more attention, but the comments forced me to offer something brief.
On the topic of discipleship Micheal writes:
Some of the most selfish Christians in the world are sitting in living rooms they call missional communities, while the world around them spirals out of control.
Sounds like he’s hanging around some cranky missional minded people.
(Note, in light of the Haiti catastrophe it's a shame we're stuck in a conversation about how to slam other church expressions rather than ways to engage their world 'spirals out of control'.)
Let’s be absolutely clear, central element of the missional church movement (organic church, emerging church, whatever label you need to use), is to engage in God’s plan to redeem humanity.. Joining God in his mission (the missio Dei) to rescue, redeem, and recapture humanity is foundational to any missional church. In fact, the reason why the missional church emerged from the church growth model is because conventional church was simply doing a bad job of it.
In fact, today, the weakest component of most churches is their small group/discipleship programs. Why you ask? Simply put, the way the conventional church operates, only a handful of individuals are regarded as leaders, and thus only a handful are equipped to train/disciple other people. Just think of it, if you only embrace the leadership of the few (the clergy), and either directly or indirectly encourage the laity to sit and consume ‘church’, then you will never have a critical mass of people to mobilize for the sake of mission (Great Commission).
It’s a weird situation to exist in. To invest more into the laity means a) more time and resources, b) a loss of power for the existing charismatic CEO-style church leaders, c) a major adjustment in the way we do church. Leaders cannot on one hand exhort people to exist in small groups and disciple people (participating in the mission of God), if when they gather all they do is sit and consume, it’s a contradiction.
That’s one reason among many why small groups (and therefore discipleship) is the weakest link in attractional church models.
In comes missional church where fundamentally people exist for the sake of the missio Dei in the places they’re already connected and God is already at work. Missional church RELEASES people to exist in their networks (neighborhoods). If you are not engaging then it’s not missional. In a post-Christendom world this journey is one of the few methods to expose people to the gospel message in action.
To write this movement off as a mere the collection of ‘selfish Christians’ ignores the essential components that make ‘missional’ what it is.
And by the way, small groups meet in homes? So do missional church small groups. But what I consistently see in my experience are small groups that combine in larger communities to worship/celebrate together. Sounds to me like that’s church. Some will argue it’s not because there is no clear charismatics lead pastor, no steeple, no membership, no parking lot, no worship band, no organ, no pews, no old wooden cross, no announcements, no 45 minute sermon….. but I contest it looks and operates much like a church we read from Acts till about….oh say Revelation.
Hopefully I’m not alone in my assessment, but the comments require more explanation then a blanket condemnation of the missional church movement. Maybe he was thinking of a house church movement instead? 😛