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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How do we turn members into missionaries?

Do I really see myself as a missionary? This is what I learned in chapter three of The Present Future:

"North America is the largest English-speaking mission field in the world. It is the fifth or sixth largest mission field on any stripe. If we are not focusing on missiology, we are being disobedient to the the Great Commission." (pg. 51)

Missiology, or mission science, is to distinguish between practices that are essential to Christianity and therefore must be practiced by Christians in all cultures, and other strictly cultural expressions of Christianity that can be changed and adapted to a different culture. (wikipedia)

"Don't plan on taking a vote on whether your church will release members to become missionaries. What you must do is two things: create a culture informed by missiology and create venues where people can practice being missionaries. Creating an informed missiological culture can be done in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions."(pg. 61)

+ Discuss generational cultures: values, heart language, work preferences.
+ Discuss the emerging culture: have a non-church person come in and explain what people outside the church bubble need and what people think.
+ Explore community needs: demographics, improving your community
+ Expose yourself to a missionary church: pick up ideas, share them, and create venues for missionary service.
+ Build for the community: buy land, or build, for the community.
+ Adopt a school: tutor at the school.
+ Pay it back: help people with job placement, car repairs, furniture distribution, food, financial help, and financial planning.
+ Get out there: local mission projects and community projects, not church activities.
+ Go first: others will follow.

"A missionary church culture will need to begin keeping score on things different from what we measure now. These may include how many ministry initiatives we are establishing in the streets, how many conversations we are having with pre-Christians, how many volunteers we are releasing into local and global mission projects aimed at community transformation, how many congregations are starting to reach different populations, how many congregations use our facilities, how many languages (ethnic and generational) we worship in, how many activities target people who aren't here yet, how many church activities target people who aren't here yet, how many hours per week members spend in ministry where they work, go to school, and get mail.

Until we start making heroes of people who decide to be and act like missionaries, we will fail to turn club members into missionaries. Until we bless people who "go out" from us to reach people who may not come to us, we will continue to have a kingdom vision that is shrink-wrapped to church programs and church real estate. Until we start adopting schools and hosting community food banks and teaching parenting seminars and holding financial planning seminars for the people who come to us for food, we will keep fostering club member mentality...

Who is this for? may be a good way for you to begin your own journey from member to missionary. Think about your life, your money, your time, your talent, and your commitments. Who is this for? Is the answer club members or people who do not yet know Jesus?

God help you to be a missionary. God help you to release missionaries into the world with the gospel." (pg. 67-68)

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