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But what does it look like?

November 30, 2005

This series starts with Mondays post.

Kim asked me this question the other night. We have been having the best, deep conversations about this subject. And I had given her an article to read on missional churches and she said, “But what does that look like?” My answer at the time was shorter than this on will be and probably better. I will at least start there.

I don’t know exactly what it would look like, that is in God’s hands. I think that it has to do with being a group that has Jesus as its head. Where people seek out walking with God. Where they seek his voice, where they listen to their hearts. And when they feel compelled to do something good, the entire group supports, encourages, fights for it (spiritually), and gets involved. A group where when someone says I feel the need to do “x” . That that is not taken lightly.

It is a group where the church is unleashed.

Where the Holy Spirit’s guidance is not only expected but is followed. That’s a start.

There is so much more too it.

It is a group where the spirit leads but also a group where people are encouraged and supported in their calling.

A group where the wounded are not only welcomed but healed.

It is a gathering where Jesus is proclaimed and that His name can’t help but be heard.

A gathering where Love is given to people just as they are. Because they are told that God loves them just like they are. There is nothing they can do to make God love them any more and there is nothing they can do to make God love them any less. Grace is proclaimed and given.

A gathering where they are encouraged to worship God. They are encouraged to experiment, to have disciplines, to be creative. But they are told this is not about what the person next to you is doing. This is between you and God.

It’s a group where the leaders are like shepherds. They believe that the flock belongs to Jesus and they seek his council in making of any decision. Just because they have faced it before and it looks the same, they ask anyway. They equip and encourage. They particularly encourage the group to get behind those who feel called to do something. Especially when it doesn’t look like it would work, because that is what walking by faith means.

It is a group that fosters community – deep intimate relationships that encourage each other in good works that promote the kingdom of God – his desires toward the rest of the world to make it better.

It is a group with direction(s). More on that next time. But today I came across a blog I would like to introduce to you. It has a great list of characteristics of healthy and unhealthy churches. I fear lists because they are always either too long or too short. But this one is good. I fear that I am making a list above, it is not my intent. The struggle to describe something that is sublime falls beyond words, but you can feel it when you experience it.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2005 3:17 pm

    This is too good a post to have those boxes in with your quotation marks….what’s up with that?

    Thanks for the link too. I truly enjoyed the list.

  2. November 30, 2005 3:26 pm

    Yeah – what IS up with those boxes. Don’t you hate it when blogger screws up!

    I like your post a lot and liked the list, too. Think I’ll send it to my shepherds (as they always refer to themselves) and minister, Tod.

  3. November 30, 2005 4:00 pm

    Weird, it looked fine in Firefox. But in Internet Explorer it had those weird boxes. Hopefully it is cleared up now.

  4. November 30, 2005 4:59 pm

    I too ask the question “what does it look like?” And I’ve come to the conclusion that it looks different in different places.

    I guess I’ve had to let go of my thinking that being missional and relevant hinges on worship styles. I could write a lot here. But it’s your blog. 🙂

    I think you’re right – it hinges on the church being in tune with the Spirit. Where the leaders become shepherds and allow God to do His thing.

  5. November 30, 2005 5:09 pm

    Amy,
    That is so right. I really wish it was about worship styles… because I would like for it to be what I like. But the church is Jesus’ and he seems to like variety in the things he creates.

    Feel free to write however much you want, I really would love to hear what you and other think.

    That reminds me to elaborate on the just because you have faced something before doesn’t mean it requires the same solution.

  6. November 30, 2005 8:58 pm

    Deep conversations — something I yearn for! The Spirit is always relevant.

  7. December 1, 2005 12:26 pm

    The last two fellowships I have been part of were both much like what you set out here in this latest post, Tommy. And they were (are) wonderful.

    The first one, sadly, which was born (in 1995) out of such a “dream” as you capture here in this post, was magnificent for a while, truly wondrous.

    But then, maybe through Satan, I don’t know, a series of calamaties occurred to different members, including the homes of several of us flooding (including ours), an arsonist’s fire in a huge warehouse in New Orleans causing our “lay” minister to lose his job and have to leave Slidell for other work, and then a lot of our younger, more energetic couples having to move because of job changes.

    Our attendance went way down in number, many of the brand new Christians we’d reached out in the community began to falter, our eldership fell apart with moves out of state, and in the end there was just a small remnant of mostly poor and some elderly people. A spirit of critcism and devisiveness took hold and the fellowship collapsed and disappeared.

    But, the one I’m in now in Mandeville at Tammany Oaks is very much like the previous one I’d been in in the beginning. We are doing really well, growing and reaching out to all kinds of people in all circumstances, especially since the hurricane.

    The elders are shepherds, only, and call themselves that. Our minister, Tod, and his wife, are really Spirit driven and down to earth. We have many very capable members who, it seems to me, ARE each encouraged to follow their individual gifts and callings, whatever they may be.

    I know that I am greatly encouraged by the shepherds and Tod to take part in all the ways I can, even with my limitations. I’m currently working on some great things (writing and interviewing projects) I’ve been asked to do by them for the top notch church website we’re putting together.

    Going back to the “list” on the other blog, in my life, I’ve seen and have been in both the best (the healthiest) and the worst (the unhealthiest) of fellowships, with many others falling somewhere in between.

    But, I truly believe that having a healthy, vibrant church of God’s people is a realistic goal to try to achieve. I don’t think that it is beyond our reach, by any means. Well, that is, not beyond our reach under God’s firm guidance and oversight and providential help, after much prayer and supplication (as Philippians 4 tells us).

    What do you all think? Are such churches worth “fighting” (spiritually, of course) for, etc.? Or do you think we can only work on changing our own selves and see where that leads us to go and what to do?

  8. December 1, 2005 3:49 pm

    Dee, To follow my own advice here, I think that would depend. It would be something to seek God’s guidance on. Some places yes and some places no.

    That’s really a tough question. That makes it all the more important to be Spirit led.

  9. December 1, 2005 5:05 pm

    Great post! My wife and I have been having similar discussions on what it means to be missional, especially as it relates to worship. I look forward to more.

    By the way, love the lists (yours and the other blog). Not a big fan of lists myself, but, as I once read (and my hyper-organized spouse reminds me), “People without lists are listless.”

    Jeff

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