23 January 2007

Community (Part 3)

Remember that series I was doing on Community? And how I threatened to take things to an uncomfortable place with my next post in the series? And then I seemed to forget about it? (And you probably forgot about it too!) :-) Well, I didn't entirely forget about it, but I did have some hesitation to "go there" to that uncomfortable place. But now I don't need to. Because Webb Kline went there for me. Here's an excerpt:

I have made an incomplete list of some comparisons between the traditional and missional church models as I see them. Hopefully it is complete enough to spell the challenge out for those who are trying to count the cost of making the transition.
  • Traditional Church: Inward-An institution created to attract people to a building, thus is focused on the futile task of appealing to and meeting the insatiable desires of its members in order to survive financially. Made up primarily of people for whom church is little more than an addendum to their busy self-engrossed lives.
  • Missional Church: Outward-A group of people whose passion and purpose is found in being the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need his mercy, grace compassion and love. Real missional Christians put the physical and spiritual needs of others before their own, for in this, they find their total satisfaction and meaning to life.
  • Traditional Church: Ministry-Staff of a few performs over 90% of church ministry, which primarily amounts to pleasing a congregation of spectators, many of whom will go elsewhere when they determine that their needs are no-longer being met.
  • Missional Church: Ministry-Everyone has a role in the missional church. A missional Christian's life purpose is found in loving and serving others and in helping them to find peace and hope in Jesus. Their work, their recreation and everything else is part of the mission, not just what comes down on Sunday morning. Their ministry is not performed by being a part of a committee, but flows from their God-given spiritual gifts, their skills and talents and their passion for serving. In short, they aren't waiting for someone to lead them around by their hand; they're already attentive to people's needs, and they serve by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
  • Traditional Church: Charitable Giving-The traditional church must survive on its members tithing 2-3% of their adjusted income. One church I belonged to had 1% of its annual budget assigned for missions, which also included things like youth group materials! Even when a traditional church has a heart for missions, it typically takes 80 to 90% of its budget for its building mortgage payments, maintenance and utilities and staff salaries.
  • Missional Church: Charitable Giving-Nearly 100% of the tithes and offering of the missional church can go directly to funding their mission outreaches, because those outreaches, and not a building program, is the heart and purpose of their church. Often, those outreaches come in the form of down-town businesses geared to reach and minister to specific people groups, thus are largely self-sustaining. Typically, those same businesses also serve as the church meeting place as well, so there is no need for a building dedicated to that purpose. Freeing up finances in such a radical way, paves the way to extend their missions to meeting the needs of 3rd world people or others outside of their local community.

Webb is talking in gross generalities to make a point, and describing extremes when the reality is a continuum (again, to make a point), but the things he says in his post are pretty much the things that I was hesitating to say. If you're interested, read his whole post. It's not that long. There are some good comments, too. So...what do you think?

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