Over the past several years I have had an increasing number of conversations with pastors and church leaders about the church’s inability to “reach” their local communities. Many local churches have come to the realization that they have lost the ability to “attract” people to church programs and events. They sense that something has changed, but they are unsure about the essence of the change and what ministry adjustments might be necessary. In most cases, the leaders have no “grid” or framework to rethink the form and function of the church and it’s relationship to God’s mission. As a result, many churches lean towards a solution that ultimately involves more of the same church growth principles and programming.
I believe, as many of you that follow this blog, that a significant portion of the solution begins with recapturing the missionary nature of God and His church. The framework that is necessary is found in the best of the missional church conversation that is taking place today.
I have been studying and participating in this conversation for more than two decades. Several years ago I completed a doctoral project that was targeted on assisting churches in the development of a missional ecclesiology. The core of the training project includes three major elements.
The first piece of the training attempts to answer the question, “What is Missional Church?” During this portion of the training we examine the biblical, theological, and missiological underpinnings of the missional conversation. We also conducted a brief survey of the history of missional church, along with exploring what others were saying on the topic.
The second portion of the training focuses on understanding the cultural shifts that have taken place in North America, and how those shifts have contributed to the marginalization of the church. This second element speaks to the question of “Why is the Missional Church conversation important” to the local church.
The third element of the training deals with missional practice, or the question, “How can an existing church cultivate a more missional posture?” In this final section of the training we focus on issues surrounding discipleship, evangelism, community engagement and transformation, as well as how to make incremental shifts in a missional direction with resources such as prayer, time, staff, facilities, and finances.
I share this brief training outline as an introduction to what is available to other congregations. We can create customized seminars that focus on the series of topics mentioned above. The training can be customized to any size group and range from a two-hour presentation targeted to a selected group of church leaders to a full day seminar presented to the whole congregation, to a nine-month learning community. You decide the best fit for your situation and local context.
If you have questions or would like to discuss what this might look like for your church, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org