Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thinking missionally

I happened to tune into the Planting Channel thanks to Dave Ferguson's blog updates.

I was not able to make it to LEAD, so catching it here gives me the opportunity to glean from some of the conference speakers. I was on the Planting Channel earlier today and was able to catch some highlights from Catalyst 08, which I was also unable to attend, and got to watch replays of Vince Antonucci interviewing several people, including Jay Hardwick, as part of Catalyst 08 Start LAB. Jay was sharing about living missionally in his hometown of Columbia, SC and how they are meeting in his home as a group and then going out into the city of Columbia and being "conduits" for Christ. He also mentioned that they haven't done a big mailing/matketing campaign or launched big, but have intentionally held back from such an approach so that they can build DNA for disciplemaking.

As I was listening to and watching Jay's interview I was identifying with what he and his team are doing because that is very close to what I've been thinking over the past couple of years as my family and I have moved back to my hometown of Troy, NY, to an inner-city community that is in desparate need of God's hand upon it. I have watched a few new churches launch in recent years, that are within driving distance to where we are located and they are reporting hundreds of people attending their worship gatherings. I am elated to see this current church planting movement reaching New York's capital region. I am also very glad to hear that these other church planters are being successful in their endeavors. However, as Ed Stetzer, Alan Hirsch and others point out, it will take different methods and models to reach people for Christ, and what works for one church planter in a certain geographical area, may or may not work in other areas.

Being missional is not a method or a model, it is simpy being the sent people of God in the community God has sent them too. It's about being conduits for Christ in the midst of a dark and distressed world. For me that may be vastly different than what other church planters are doing, including those who are in close proximity to me (geographically speaking). We have intentionally avoided church marketing campaigns and have, instead, invested in building relationships within our community, or as Jay calls it, "building DNA for disciple making." That takes time and patience.