Chapter 2, Breaking the Missional Code
Chapter two begins with a reminder that we are living in a day where a large portion of our North American Population have no Christian memory. Many of us today still find that hard to believe. I remember when I first heard someone ask, ¢â‚¬Å“Who is Jesus?¢â‚¬ I was in the UP of Michigan doing summer mission in 1989 and a boy in our BYBC asked that question. I was floored.
Some churches are experiencing great success and significance, while others are in serious decline. Len Sweet is quoted with a great statement, ¢â‚¬Å“The movement of God is like a tornado, if we could only learn to connect the dots.¢â‚¬ Breaking the code is all about connecting the dots.
The authors list several churches that are code-breaking churches:
1. Mars Hill Church, Seattle WA
2. Mountain Lake Community Church, Cumming, GA
3. Set Free Church, Yucaipa, CA
4. Saddleback Church, Mission Viejo, CA
5. Northwood Church, Keller, TX
6. Awakening Chapels
7. FBC, Woodstock, GA
The questions the authors ponder is, ¢â‚¬Å“What happened?¢â‚¬ Why are these churches increasing and most are in decline? ¢â‚¬Å“Each of these leaders [of the above churches] represents a new breed of pastors in North America who see their context through missional lenses. They have the ability to read the culture and translate ministry into a biblically faithful and culturally appropriate expression of church (21).”
Our biggest temptation is to bring home the technique we learned at a conference and try to implement the technique when it inherently is not transferable. Instead of dealing with techniques, we should be dealing with systems and processes and the authors in chapter two lay out a code-breaking process.
Systems and processes are a much harder deal. A friend of mine had an admin assistant who used to be Henry Blackaby¢â‚¬â„¢s admin. One day, Henry and his son visited the church in NY where the admin assistant was now serving and my friend got to spend some time with Blackaby. In their conversation, Blackaby told my friend, ¢â‚¬Å“Everyone wants my mantle without my tears.¢â‚¬ He¢â‚¬â„¢s right, especially in church ministry. We want to the things that have made others successful without going through the gut wrenching process of finding out what God wants us to do.
The code-breaking process is as follows:
1. Calling from God. We need to be called into ministry, truly, but we must also be called to a people. The call to people is essential because it helps us escape the trap of technique. Too many of us don¢â‚¬â„¢t go through the pain of hearing the call of God in what we do. We do the hot new thing. But ¢â‚¬Å“[o]ur first task is to listen for God¢â‚¬â„¢s call to us, not to respond to hi call to others.¢â‚¬ To this, I say¢â‚¬¦AMEN! The key to breaking the code is to have the heart of the Father for that community!
2. Exegeting the community. We must understand our culture before we choose our model.
3. Examine ways God is working in similar communities.
4. Find God¢â‚¬â„¢s unique vision for your church. ¢â‚¬Å“Churches should function differently from location to location. When it comes to the kingdom of God, uniformity is not a value.¢â‚¬ (BTW, in this section, on page 27, there¢â‚¬â„¢s a typo. In the fourth line it says ¢â‚¬Å“Pastor Mark vision flows out of a conviction¢â‚¬¦¢â‚¬ It should be ¢â‚¬Å“Pastor Mark¢â‚¬â„¢s vision¢â‚¬¦¢â‚¬ Of course there are no typos or grammatical issues in my thoughts on the book )
5. Adjusting the vision as you learn the context. ¢â‚¬Å“The problem with determining a community¢â‚¬â„¢s values and needs is that they change¢â‚¬¦but often the church does not.¢â‚¬
I thought this was a great chapter. Setting the idea of system and process right up front in the book and dealing with the issue of technique is right on course. One thing I would add, in regards to the code-breaking process, especially point #5, is the following. I don¢â‚¬â„¢t see this as a linear process, though the authors never make that statement or even intimate it. And the process should turn into a system, where our adjustments are made by working through the process/system on a regular basis, constantly going through these points to make sure we are still on our unique missional journey.
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