I finished reading the ninth chapter of Vintage Church (by Mark Driscoll) “What is a Missional Church?”. For anyone interested in the gospel this chapter is a must read! One impression I got was, “this is a knock you on your knees to pray, repent, and consider chapter.”
This was a heavily packed church that challenges people on how to effectively contextualize the gospel in their surroundings and yet not compromise the truth of the gospel. The goal of of “contextualization is not making the gospel relevant, but showing the relevance of the gospel” (p 228).
It is loaded with a strong argument for the church to become increasingly contextualized with the local culture (instead of thinking that is only something to be done in world missions) as well as some helpful tips that we can take to move towards a church-life that is powerful in the truth of God’s Word and is able to bring those around us to salvation. Here’s a sampling of stuff I enjoyed, but you really should get the book Vintage Church, if only for this chapter!
“The Western church had, sadly, become overly attached to and defined by buildings, programs, staff, services, and institutions that only strategize ways to do “attractional” ministry. To correct this problem, the term missional was adopted to emphasize that the church exists to go into the cultures and nations of the earth and live sacrificially for the good of others” (p 218).
“Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But…this is a “shrinking market.” And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of “Christendom” will have to learn to become “missional.” If it does not do that it will decline or die. We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather “missional” churches. [Tim Keller]” (p 220).
“A missional church not only believes that Scripture is God’s Word of truth, but lives out all that the Bible teaches to the best of its ability. A missional church has a deep trust in and affection for the Bible and seeks to anchor all of its teaching and life in the storyline of sacred Scripture and preserve truth…a missional church is always, only, solely, fully, passionately, uncompromisingly, whole-heartedly, and continually all about Jesus as God, Savior, Lord, Hero, Hope, and Friend!” (p 221).
“Because it has a high view of Scripture, a missional church has a corresponding high view of preaching and teaching God’s Word. In teaching God’s Word, leaders of a missional church regularly call believing sinners, unbelieving sinners, and especially religious people to repentance” (p 222).
“Knowing that when we are born and where we live are part of God’s purpose for our lives, together as a church we pay careful attention to where God has sent us…A missional church goes to great lengths to understand the people God has sent them to…That being said, it is helpful for a good missiologist to regularly do the following in order to see culture and its effects: Watch Television, Surf Talk Radio, Walk the Mall, Pay Attention at the Grocery Store, Hang Out at the Magazine Rack, Pay Attention to Kids, Talk to the People, Go Online, Break Your Routine” (pp 223-227). [Ok, I know that some of the things on that list may cause some people to get up in arms, but this is why you need to read the chapter for yourself. The author has explanations and reasons for each of those strategies and also notes that it is good to spend a good amount of time in prayer so you don’t get “caught” in some of the potential negative influences yourself.]
“Relativists are willing to compromise Christian truth in the name of relating to lost people. This is a problem because they seek to change Jesus, wrongly believing he is not relevant to people and their lives. Conversely, relevantists know that Jesus is relevant to every person, time, place, culture, and circumstance. They are committed to breaking down every cultural barrier that raises its head against the power and truth of the gospel. They use any moral means so people can clearly hear the message of Jesus and see the relevance of Jesus” (pp 228-229).
“A missional church is countercultural…The purpose of such countercultural kingdom living is threefold. First, countercultural kingdom living worships God by obeying the teachings of Scripture. Second, countercultural kingdom living trains younger generations in missional living so that there is a legacy of faith that continues after one’s death. Third, open and public countercultural kingdom living provides lost people an alternative and attractive way of life with Jesus and his people, the church” (p 234).