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Earlier this week, I was part of the Velocity Conference in Atlanta – here are some notes from Alan Hirsch’s session on ‘Missional Velocity’:

  • Missional is not just another cute buzz word–it changes everything about how we do church.
  • All communication of the gospel in the west is cross-cultural. We have to become cross-cultural missionaries.
  • Attractional churches work well to reach people who are not too far removed (culturally). When people get further away–it doesn’t work as well. Why? Because we are asking the individual to do the cross-cultural translation to come into the church (rather than us going to them).
  • Huge survey in Australia on people’s perception of…
    • God = HIGH marks
    • Jesus = HIGH marks
    • Spirituality = HIGH marks
    • Church = VERY LOW marks
  • The good news is that people give VERY high marks on God, Jesus and Spirituality. That is good news for us.
  • What has to change? The CHURCH as the delivery mechanism for the gospel MUST CHANGE.
  • The problem–90%+ of churches are trying to follow the contemporary, church-growth, attractional model that…at best…will only reach 40% of Americans.
  • The problems of the church cannot be solved by doing the same thing that got us into those problems.
  • The church that Jesus designed was meant for advance and attack–not defense!
  • Keep doing attractional. It works for 40%. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. I’m interested in finding the AND!
  • Mission precedes the church. You do mission. The church is something that happens out of mission.
  • You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.

HT: Tim Stevens

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Asking (most) people to come with us to church is an unrealistic expectation:

Church is where we feel safe and comfortable. Church is where non-Christians feel embarassed and awkward. We offer people the gospel, but on our terms and on our territory. Put like this, it becomes clear that we must take the gospel – and indeed the church – out of our ghetto and into the world around us.

Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, The Gospel-Centred Church, 24-25.

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From Ray Ortlund:

What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered?  That’s a popular concept these days.  Good.  What if we were scrambling to be law-centered?  But the difference is not so easy in real terms.

A gospel-centered church holds together two things.  One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace — so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe.  Not our performance but Christ’s performance for us.  Not our sacrifices but his sacrifice for us.  Not our superiority but only his worth and prestige.  The good news of substitution.  The good news that our okayness is not in us but exterior to us in Christ alone.  Climbing down from the high moral ground, because only Christ belongs up there.  That message, that awareness, that clarity.  Every Sunday.

Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology.  The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another.  In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical.  How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe.  It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment.  We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.

A gospel-centered church looks something like this album cover — my all-time favorite.  A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners.  They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture.  The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.

The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church: anyone for any reason turning it into a culture of legal demandingness and negative scrutiny.  Few would do that in the theology, of course.  But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms.

A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace.  The latter is harder to accomplish than the former.  It is more intuitive.  It requires more humility and self-awareness.

May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity in all our churches.

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Jeff Vanderstelt at this year’s Verge conference:

“At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.

A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.

No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.

We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.

When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”

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The missional church seeks to join Jesus on his mission. This series by Jonathan Dodson focuses on three wrong approaches to being a missional church.

  1. Event-Driven
  2. Evangelism-Driven
  3. Social Action-Driven

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  1. Membership is patterned in the New Testament.
  2. Membership secures participation in the Kingdom of God.
  3. Membership provides spiritual protection.
  4. Membership is for our spiritual maturity.
  5. Membership is for our spiritual fulfillment.

You can read the rest here.

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  1. The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S.
  2. The rise of Islam.
  3. The new non-Western Global Christianity.
  4. The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel.
  5. The end of prosperity?

You can read the rest here.

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