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October 13, 2011

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Beth Kolar

Dave, we are only on chapter 5 and we decided to REDO it cause we needed to rethink how it is being lived out in our daily contexts. I will get back to you when I have read chapter 6, k?

Aside from not having read the chapter. I think "entry" missional practices have to do with the intention of the practice, and taking people along with you - briefing and debriefing about the intention. For those who have not found their way back to God, I think we call that 'pre-discipleship'. Connecting them with the practices of kindness, love, generosity - prepping them for future conversations. Those who are currently in relationship with Christ, I think we already provide 'serving opportunities' and entry level contribution things to do (act).

I think it's about the discipleship DURING (& after) the acting. Tying the what to the why thru the how. I look forward to people smarter than me commenting. I would love to hear "simple missional practices" that would help people act their way into a new way of (living) behaving / believing.

Thanks for starting the conversation.

Cheryl Jones

I have a couple of instances where I chose to be missional about my life. The most important one was treating people with respect, even when I didn't agree with them. I researched some gracious,non-threatening or unconfrontational phrases to have on hand (in the back of my mind). Working as a temp employee, I have come across the paths of all sorts of people and bosses. No matter how short or long I work with them, I want to be an ambassador for Christ, and build relationship bridges wherever I go. Treating people respectfully, and enjoying them for who they are, is a proven way to build those bridges.

Helen Lee

What a great question! Let me offer a few ideas...

1) Normalize discomfort

This is not my own original thought, but one that Dave Gibbons (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA) says often and I really appreciate his perspective. I think reassuring people that often, living missionally will require that you push yourself out of the comfort zone, and if you're feeling uncomfortable you are probably along the right path. Perhaps giving people a goal, to take one step of faith, one risky move a week, then to give opportunities to share stories that emerge, can be one way to do this.

2) Move from haven to outpost

For many families, I think there is a temptation to think of one's home as a comfortable haven, built to protect all who live within from the stresses and evils of life and our surrounding culture. There is a pressure to invest so much into our children, our families, so much so that doing so becomes an end in and of itself. Instead, encouraging families to see their homes as missional outposts, from which they are sent as missionaries to whatever context/people God has sent them, helps give parents a different perspective. Instead of pouring our energies in to our home life and families as an end in and of itself, we recognize that we are building our children up and investing in them so that they recognize and embrace their own call to be God's missionaries in this world. One is an inward orientation, one is an outward orientation, and to my mind the missional perspective is most definitely an outward orientation.

3) Involve children often and regularly in missional activities.

I believe that children can more easily embrace missional values than adults--they often don't have as many of the internal barriers and baggage that adults do--and the earlier we give them opportunities to live out these values, the more likely they will carry through to adulthood. We've taken our kids, since when they were ages 3-8 yrs. old, to homeless shelters, Feed My Starving Children volunteering shifts, church events in which provide sit-down dinners to those in need. My kids don't see people who are homeless or in poverty as people to be avoided or to feel uncomfortable around; they just enjoy building relationships with people and experiencing the idea that they can make a difference. I think giving children plenty of opportunities to experience what it means to be God's missionary here and now can leave an indelible imprint on their lives. The more they "act" missional, the more they will become so naturally.

Just a few thoughts to get the ball rolling. Look forward to seeing other responses to this great question!

Dave Lang

Dave, it seems to me that simply calling for people to live out The Golden Rule on a daily basis is a good place to start. In my small group this week we talked about employing 2 Cor. 1:3-7 on practical basis by coming along side of someone to bring some element of spiritual or personal comfort this week, especially in these challenging times.

I also like John Burke's Soul Revolution concept of getting people to pause 60 seconds every 60 minutes to acknowledge God and ask Him what He wants them to do at that moment to bring Him glory.

I'd be interested in seeing others' comments and thoughts as that is what we've been focusing on here in our ministry.

Dave Ferguson

Great conversation.

Beth, I love how you are thinking about missional practices as something that both believers and non-believers can be engaged in. There are few people that are able to think outside the traditional dichotomy of evangelism and discipleship. This type of thinking is important. Thanks!

Cheryl, respect is a terrific and simple missional practice. I think it has to go beyond that, but that would be one among other practices. Keep it up.

Helen, I love how you always think of missional practices in terms of family that includes the kids. If we raise kids in that kind of environment they will act their way into a new way of believing and behaving. You should write a book on this stuff! :) Thanks for contributing.

Dave, I agree that the golden rule is a very simple and reproducible missoinal practice. Good thought. And Burkes stuff in Soul Revolution is right on.

OK, but how do we sustain these practices? How do we make sure that we don't just do these for a week or a month and then we forget them? How do we actually integrate them into the life of a church and it become a part of people's routine and rhythm from now on? Thoughts?

Brandon Hatmaker

Dave. I think a critical path is to provide (as a part of our equipping) a place where people can either experience or encounter mission for the first time. Often this comes in the form of an event or project that feels "safe" for them. Often it requires very little personal investment. We have to be careful though... too often we settle for the event being the ends instead of the means to an end. Knowing this, we have to use it as a launching pad into engaging mission... usually the gap is too big to go from the event to personal engagement... thus, the role of missional community. This is where it's critical that our missional communities are really structured for mission.

Josh Thurkettle

“OK, but how do we sustain these practices? How do we make sure that we don't just do these for a week or a month and then we forget them?”

Hey Dave, I have some thoughts. The short answer… Empowering Jesus people who are systematically yet freely unencumbered by centralized leadership structures to realize their “sentness” in an already given context….What does that mean? Every person has a unique call on their life to be Jesus person to everyone they encounter on a daily basis. If we only see the mission of the church to happen between 8 and 12 on Sunday and maybe a week night or Saturday service we are missing a great majority of people who have a strong urge of “there must be something more”.

I believe creating a unique decentralized structure for introducing and empowering these people will ignite within a movement multiple groups of people wanting to live on mission.

For me one of the simplest things I have started doing to live on mission is to ask people I encounter what their dreams are and if they are living them… I then try to encourage them and introduce them to someone who can help that dream become a reality for God’s kingdom! Honestly, it is simply seeing every person… every conversation as an opportunity for them to individually realize their “sentness” from the King of Glory to this earth to reach people for His glory!

Kenton Rohrberg

A practice that we have engaged in lately is to ask the server in the restaurant, "Say, we are going to pray in a few minutes as we begin (or leave), is there anything that we might include for you in our prayers?" My wife and I had one young lady open up and share three or four sentences that listed her biggest life challenges. We joined hands with her and prayed right on the spot.

Dave Ferguson

Brandon, Josh and Kenton, thanks for jumping into this conversation. This is turning out to be a very profitable dialogue.

Brandon, you just spoke at our NewThing Gathering and as a part of that conversation you gave 3 E's that a church should practice to encourage missional behavior. If I remember right it was Expose, Engage and Equip. I'm sure it is in your new book Barefoot Church (which everyone should buy!) but any chance you could give us a 1 or 2 sentence explanation for each of these? I thought it was very helpful and pertains to this conversation.

Josh, good to hear from you! I love the question, "What is your dream?" When I'm with leaders that is often one of my first questions. I'm working on a series of questions (like the coaching questions in Exponential) that we could ask anyone that would help them discover their mission. Sorry I missed you on Monday. Hope you and Jon had a good time!

Kenton, what I love about your suggestion is that it is simple, reproducible and anyone can do it. Good stuff.

Beth

Sustainability... when we talk about systems and "big" I feel like covering my head and dropping to my knees and saying "these things are too great for me" I don't even know how to think of them.

I always revert to the simple. I do, I take you with me. (IF you will come) I brief and debrief as we make disciples together. THAT is infectious.

Having a core support group (a place to talk freely, teach and learn) helps with sustainability - aka keeps me consistent and engaged when I think I have nothing and wonder if I should even be doing "this" because things don't 'look' the way I thought they would. (usually time and space show that God is doing HUGE things I just couldn't see then)

It's the infecting (not just inspiring, but implanting the virus that will not go away and has to FEED on living missionally, because Jesus is Lord) that I think is the most difficult. I think it comes best thru passionate first / second person story telling. "What is God doing in MY life? Where is He moving and how am I joining him there? What life change am I seeing in people around me as a result to me joining God?" (of course, the results are not due to my awesome doing or joining, but rather I get to SEE those results and take part in them because I am there and some how manage to stay out of the way)

I struggle with these questions daily. You know how Paul says (Acts), “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” The problem is that to BE like Paul, is to also accept the chains. The stuff that wears you down, beats you up and hurts your pride and your heart.

It takes inspiration, infection and abandon to go there. The rewards? Amazing.

I hope 'we' figure it out.. and move in that direction, whether or not we do.

Much love to you Dave.

Brandon Hatmaker

Dave.... thanks for the shout out on "Barefoot Church". Here's a little more on expose, experience, engage as steps to mission. We believe mission is often revealed by need and there are at least three kinds of need: Physical, emotional (relational), and Spiritual. "Expose" is all about learning to "see" the need. That takes effort, research, and a desire or concern to see. We utilize mostly the gatherings and other corporate efforts to help expose need (btw, scripture exposes need like crazy). "Experience" might be better described as anything we can do to "encounter" the need. It's a type of "taste and see" thing to help those of use who've never attempted to do anything about it experience it in a safe environment. It's a first step. This might be through a mission trip, a service project, or other church wide event. But the goal must be to move from the encounter and on to engaging need. "Engaging" need is best done through small groups, community groups, or missional community. It can literally put the "mission" in missional community. The reason I say its best done through community is because it's at times very hard, certainly messy, and can easily become thankless (Believe it or not). Rarely are we called to mission alone. Isolation and individualism are one of the greatest barriers to sustained mission. I've found that any plan focusing on those three steps seem to be very effective. The three steps are about seeing, feeling, and doing. The problem is when we skip or try to leave one out.

beth kolar

'Isolation and individualism are one of the greatest barriers to sustained mission.'

Thank you Brandon for those words.

tim bergren

Thanks for a great conversation, Dave. I think it's significant that Jesus modeled a rhythm of life for us to imitate as we engage in God's mission: "rest/abide" leading to "mission/fruit" and back again...

If kingdom-work (mission) doesn't bear fruit, pruning is sure to be around the corner. Burnout, I think, is often a "pruning"—the Father's reminder to us that unless we abide in him we won't bear fruit. Apart from the vine we WILL wither. Mission is a fruit of of a vine-empowered branch.

Helen Lee

What a fabulous discussion! I'm learning so much reading through everyone's comments! A couple quick thoughts in answer to Dave's question about how to build these ideas into the fabric and identity of the church:

1) I remember an interview I did with a pastor who says that at their church, they are constantly talking about living missionally because people are in varying stages in how they respond to the message. Some are ready to live on mission right then and there, but many others are along different points of the spectrum, and so you have continually be speaking to that breadth of people in different places at the same time. I guess I am saying that it's more a circular rather than a linear process.

2) How about thinking systematically and holistically about how a missional emphasis will affect each and every department/program in the church? How does it affect small groups, children's ministry, women's ministry, etc.? Then schedule when you'll share stories from each of these different parts of the church and keep the cycle going. If a church is shifting towards a missional identity and doing so in a strategic way that touches each component of the church, I imagine that people will surely start to notice that this is not just a program or a temporary change, but a thorough transformation at work.

3) Lastly, I'm reminded about this famous quote:

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

What this quote implies to me is that transformation takes time. But if you are striving to influence people's thoughts, if you are giving people a new language to use to talk about living on mission, if you are celebrating the actions of those who "get it," then hopefully little by little what initially were isolated actions will eventually become habits, and so on.

Of course everything I have just written is purely theoretical. I haven't yet seen any of this happen with my own eyes. Look forward to seeing more from the real missional church practitioners on this topic!. =)

Lundie

Dave, you asked how we are to sustain these practices. I think Beth touched on one way and that is to have a core group that you can connect with, that provides a genuine, honest, exposed level of support and accountability. Without it we can quickly become isolated like Brandon described. And that can send us quickly to burnout, like Tim mentioned.

What encourages me the most is finally seeing and understanding that any individual who seeks God's moment by moment direction, can be missional exactly where they are. I'm excited to get an altered view of what mission means and what my mission is.

In the core group I'm blessed to be a part of right now, we are taking the time to really stop and look at our immediate surroundings. It's not as simple as it sounds, but its a phenomenal exercise...to simply identify whatever and whomever is directly in front of us, and look for the opportunities to love. And then I have a place to regroup and share to help me recharge and refocus and move forward.

Lindsay

Our simplechurch is middleclass, suburban, and meets in free space with a volunteer shepherd. We own nothing and we owe nothing so we can give everything away every month through the hands of participants. If a person of need or Spirit sent mission cause has no been God-sent by the end of the month we pass out $20 or $100 bills to all adults and ask them to watch for someone God brings their way in coming weeks to give a hand up with it

You should hear the stories. As we give away food/clothes/toothpaste/school supplies/water wells/bibles/cash/med expenses/church planting resources...persons are helped & moved, but the hovers are overwhelmed with the opportunity they've had to be Christs hands/heart/voice/compassion in another persons life. Some have Come to Christ after being the giver!

It has transformed our expectation and practice as Gather and follow Him

A good two page summary can be found at www.greenchurch.info on article #5...What a gathering looks like.

If a church can't give everything away all year I encourage them to give everything away for one predetermined month. Imagine what would happen in the community...in congregation...in offering each week of that month!!! I'm thinking it would so revolutionize the spirit of the church that the staff would look for ways to do it often.

It catapulted us from discussing missions to be infected with it.

Alan Hirsch

Haha! I did make the 80% up for sure. It was just a guess. I could say it another way, probably only about 10% of us think our way into a newa way of behaving. :)

Dave Ferguson

Thank you Alan! I think you just proved my hypothesis that "85% of all stats are made up on the spot!"

And thank you for everyone else for chiming in.

One of my take-aways from this conversation is the need for a rhythm of PRACTICE & DEBRIEF. I think we need have missional PRACTICES that we (preferably) do as a group or as an individual and then a group of people with whom we DEBRIEF about how it is going and what we need to do differently. That kind of rhythm seems very important for sustaining a missional movement.

Moyo

There is a great place for letting the fruit of the spirit (Gal.5:22-23) find expression in mission work.
Ultimately through prayer and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit we can be successful, as we are colaborers together with Him.
We also must have the boldness to act accordingly when He gives specific instructions

MK @ Teach Sunday School

That is a powerful statement! I've actually written it down on an index card and taped it over my desk—it struck a chord with me. I've long believed that in order for us to adopt new behaviors or beliefs, we must act. Talking about it isn't enough—we simply have to walk the walk if we're going to talk the talk, so to speak.

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