On March 30th, 2008 the Tintern Church of Christ and the Beamsville Church hosted a Missional Church Workshop. Our guest speaker was Dr. Mark Love, assistant professor at ACU.
Our first session was held at the Empire Theatres in St. Catharines ON. The idea of beginning our workshop away from the church building was to actively participate in what we were talking about. Part of a missional approach to church life is seeking to go into the world and engage it on it’s terms and learning about that while we are at our own church building seemed a bit backward. Being in a neutral site also gave everyone an experience that guests at our churches are familiar with: unfamiliarity.
Not knowing where anything is or what we are doing is what a every guest feels the first time they worship with a congregation. While it may seem slightly unpleasant at first it was amazing to see how everyone warmed up as the morning progressed.
The kids had a program in the ‘party rooms’ that ran concurrently while we were in the main theatre. They had a great time and learned about the Jesus choosing his disciples and being fishers of men.
Mark challenged us with his message saying that “Missional Church is not a program!” It is a shift in thinking. A shift away from thinking of church as a place where things happen, ” where the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered” in the words of Martin Luther. The church is instead seen as the community of the sent. A group that sees itself as missionaries to their own communities.
On Monday March 31st, we met at the Lincoln Community Centre and discussed Faithful Shifts in the Christian Imagination and we discussed the tension in which a healthy congregation was meant to live. While we have ‘all things in common’ we don’t agree on everything. Mark said that churches should see issues like car batteries with two poles. Churches tend to see two perspectives on an issue as competing and they try to pick a winner and collapse the other pole. Healthy churches live within healthy loving tension, honouring both opinions.
Well, if you’re saying, “What would that look like?” then you are in luck! On Tuesday April 1st we met at the Beamsville Church of Christ building and we talked about Practices of Missional Congregations. What came out of that was a healthy dialogue on what it is going to take to be missional; what issues are you going to have to struggle with. We talked about the difference between adaptive changes and technical fixes. Adaptive changes are what is called for in our churches. They need to be changing as your congregation changes. Too often we approach church issues with ‘technical fixes’ that might work for a short time but are ill suited to the task soon after they are implemented.
In conclusion there aren’t tricks or programs that we need to add to fix our congregations. We need to develop the abilitiy to discern what God is doing in our midst. How does our faith community need to grow and adapt to the neighbourhood we live in? What needs are there in our community? How can we be a blessing to the families that live near us? These questions are all part of the missional dialogue that we need to engage in, and it will be tough. (though not as tough as wrestling a Panda)
Right click on the links below and select “Save Target As.. ” to download mp3 recordings of each session: