For a recent event with Reggie McNeal I reread his Missional Renaissance book, from nine years ago, much of which has come to pass. I’m also starting his latest book, Kingdom Collaborators: Eight Signature Practices of Leaders Who Turn The World Upside Down.
It’s got me thinking about church as movement. Reggie quotes:
- “It’s not your fault.” (yesterday)
- “People looking for meaning don’t search for God in church on Sunday morning.” (Kingdom Collaborators)
- “People are moving away from affiliation.” (Missional Renaissance)
- “The current model of doing church is not producing an explosion of leadership.” (Missional Renaissance)
- “Years of institutionalized church have shrink-wrapped our expectations for the social impact of the church.” (Today)
- “The church is the largest bundler of social capital.” (Today)
- “What gets rewards gets done… So we have to change the scorecard, from attendance and budgets to kingdom priorities…” (Missional Renaissance)
- “Missional churches are not in competition with other churches. They are in competition with the kingdom of darkness that steals life from people.” (Missional Renaissance)
- “Jesus’ mission did not envision a bunch of people tied up with church word.” (Missional Renaissance)
Reflecting on Reggie McNeal’s presentations with large church pastors, I’m reminded of the rapidly growing Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic.
When we visited our friends in Africa, we asked them about their evangelism strategy. They talked about their efforts to reduce infant mortality. They talked about Lutheran schools that taught even girls to read. They talked about Muslim Fulani Tribesmen coming for baptism. They didn’t separate evangelism from social ministry. They view the work of Christ in a holistic way.
I recall this tribal chief that I met in the Central African Republic. This gentleman was all smiles when, after hours of driving on deeply pot-holed, single-laned dirt roads through the woods, we pulled into his village of Mbartoua-Ngangene. There is one church in this town, the Lutheran Church. The Lutherans have built the school here as well. The only school. In a society that generally discourages the education of women, the daughters of this Muslim chief were learning to read and write at the school. The smile on his face said it all. I’m sure he wondered why people would travel an ocean to support them. There is no electricity in this village, and there is no running water. This did not stop them from showing hospitality. They killed the fatted calf for us, and the chief invited us into his own home for a meal and conversation. It was a dear moment.
Peggy Hahn, who now heads up a leadership organization we started (LEAD: WayToLead.org) morphed Vacation Bible School into a full-day, three-week camp led by high school students, at Hope Lutheran Church in Missouri City, Texas, when she was on staff there. It met a need, and developed young leaders. When she moved to Faith in Bellaire, Texas she brought it along with her.
Through the years this ministry caught on in congregation after congregation. Today Camp Hope has been used by dozens of congregations on several countries. This is church as movement. https://waytolead.org/portfolio-item/camp-hope-ministries-2-2/
When the Gulf Coast Synod embarked on a strategic planning process, we began with listening. We discovered we weren’t resourcing congregations as well as we should. We imagined how we could, in an era of diminishing resources, do a better job or resourcing congregations. We decided it would be easier to plant a new organization than try to morph the existing one, so we created LEAD. When we launched this new leadership organization we asked Peggy Hahn to lead the charge. Today LEAD offers consulting and coaching to many congregations in several synods. WayToLead.org. The Ten Minute Toolbox has been used by thousands of congregations in every state.
Celebration in Cypress
Celebration traded in their $6,000/month facility, and moved into a social needs home. Residents from the home attend worship. They celebrate with word, sacrament, music and fine arts. They are committed to walking with the poor and marginalized. https://click2celebrate.com.
Water to Thrive
A Bible study group at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church studied poverty and became aware of the importance of clean water. In sub-Saharan Africa 48% of people lack access to clean water. Every 90 seconds a child dies of water-borne diseases. They decided to build some wells. Thy raised money. Other churches got involved. Dick Moeller and friends Gabe birth to Water to Thrive. WaterToThrive.org. Today Water to Thrive has worked with hundreds of congregations and individuals to build thousands of wells in Africa.
Acts of Wisdom
Pastor Brad Otto and Messiah Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas got interested in children’s education in Ethiopia. They had raised money for wells with Water to Thrive. Brad and others had travelled to Ethiopia, fallen in loved and seen the need for schools and school supplies. So they started raising money for this work, which ultimately resulted in a startup non-profit called Acts of Wisdom. http://actsofwisdom.com. Acts of Wisdom is a non-profit charity organization dedicated to assist those in rural Africa in their quest to obtain quality, relevant education.
Are Millennials The Most Generous Generation? https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/271466
The church in the US is shifting. Our churches are mostly located in rural and small town areas, where much of the population lived 100+ years ago when they were planted. Urbanization has changed this. Now 80% of Texans live in metropolitan areas. The work of denominations is condemning in managing this shift.
For more about the emptying out of our rural areas, read this article: https://newfoodeconomy.org/rural-kansas-depopulation-commodity-agriculture/#.WvBy31iimcI.email.