Friday, July 20, 2007

Treasure in Clay Jars

“Treasure in Clay Jars” is simply a report from a group of Christian researchers who studied nine missional congregations from across North America. Basically, the group sought to answer the question: “What are the characteristics of a missional church?” The group came up with eight different patterns that help to identify churches that are missionally faithful. I thought these patterns were good, so I wanted write them here for future reference.

  1. Discerning Missional Vocation – The congregation is discovering together the missional vocation of the community. It is beginning to redefine “success” and “vitality” in terms of faithfulness to God’s calling and sending. It is seeking to discern God’s specific missional vocation (it’s “charisms”) for the entire community and for all its members.
  2. Biblical Formation and Discipleship – The missional church is a community where all members are learning what it means to be disciples of Jesus. The Bible has a continuing, converting, formative role in the church’s life.
  3. Taking Risks as a Contrast Community – The missional church is learning to take risks for the sake of the gospel. It understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death, and resurrection of its Lord. It is raising questions, often threatening, about the church’s cultural captivity and grappling with the ethical and structural implications of its missional vocation.
  4. Practices that Demonstrate God’s Intent for the World – The church’s life as a community is a demonstration of what God intends for the life of the whole world. The practices of the church embody mutual care, reconciliation, loving accountability, and hospitality. A missional church is indicated by how Christians behave toward one another.
  5. The Public Witness of Worship – Worship is the central act by which the community celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God’s presence and God’s promised future. Flowing out of its worship, the community has a vital public witness.
  6. Dependence on the Holy Spirit – The missional community confesses its dependence upon the Holy Spirit, shown in particular in its practices of corporate prayer.
  7. Pointing Toward the Reign of God – The missional church understands its calling as witness to the gospel of the in-breaking reign of God and strives to be an instrument, agent, and sign of that reign. As it makes its witness through its identity, activity, and communication, it is aware of the provisional character of all that it is and does. It points toward the reign of God which God will certainly bring about, but knows that its won response is incomplete and that its own conversion is a continuing necessity.
  8. Missional Authority – The Holy Spirit gives the missional church a community of persons who, in a variety of ways and with a diversity of functional roles and titles, together practice the missional authority that cultivates within the community the discernment of missional vocation and is intentional about the practices that embed that vocation in the community’s life.

I have always resisted the “American Business Model” of church organization, and this book gave some concrete words to a lot of ideas that have been floating around in my head. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is wanting to have a discussion about forming a missional church.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hook me up with this one.