Thursday, November 20, 2008

Missional Shift or Drift?

Well, THANK GOD something is changing in the out-dated mode of mainstay evangelical Christianity . . not to diminish evangelicals, I refer to myself as one (in the *radical* sense of the word and not the categorical). I came from Willow Creek to Ireland. In fact, my family and I are here directly because of the Hybels' - they recommended our first job in N. Ireland to us in '99. I was only at Willow for a short time, but I fully upheld the model it was promoting until around 2002/3 when a dark, brooding cloud began to form over me. That experience helped usher in a new understanding and a new direction for me into 'missional' living.

The article below by Leadership Journal is a welcome note and yet another sign of life breaking through in North American Christian experience. There are worldviews expressed in the article which I can't encourage, but overall, it's good news. Here are just a few tasters from the article:

". . then Lueken took a class at Fuller Seminary taught by Dallas Willard. The experience led to a complete change of course for him and Oak Hills Church.

"[Willard] was teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and conveying the heart of the gospel through Jesus' teaching, and I felt I was sitting there listening to something I'd never heard before," Lueken recalls. "We realized that we had to rethink what the gospel was about. Does the Bible teach only the gospel of heaven and forgiveness of sins? Or is it about a new way of living that involves the power of God, the peace of God, along with your sins being forgiven and going to heaven when you die?"

"Here are more trends uncovered by the research. Compared to ten years ago:

- Pastors are focusing more on the Gospels than on the Epistles.
- More pastors believe the gospel is advanced by demonstration and not simply proclamation.
- More pastors say the goal of evangelism is to grow "the" church rather than to grow "my" church.
- More pastors believe partnering with other local churches is essential to accomplishing their mission."

"Whatever the particular cause for the shift in these pastors' ideas regarding the gospel and mission, five changes are gaining momentum in congregations all across the country:

- Affirming the whole gospel
- Not looking to a megachurch model
- Focusing on making disciples
- Encouraging a missional mindset as a means of spiritual formation
- Establishing partnerships to advance the gospel."

"Another shift is the growing emphasis on spiritual maturity, not just conversions. Pastors surveyed are pouring more energy into disciple-making even at the expense of programs previously considered sacred cows."

"My ministry used to be, 'Here are five things to know, four things to do, take your devotions and call me in the morning,'" he said. "It was head knowledge, with applications that didn't result in any heart change." "Compared to ten years ago, today's pastors say they increasingly see disciple-making and meaningfully engaging the world as not merely ancillary expressions of faith, but the means through which spiritual formation occurs."

Read the article in FULL .
. .

WillowCreek's 'Reveal'

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