Bill Kinnon asks the million dollar question:

I confess that I’m really not interested in hearing theories anymore. I want to know how the missonal profundities emanating from the particular guru are applied in their own lives – right now. Not last year, last century or last millenium. But. Right now.

“Where are you plugged into a local expression of a missional community? How does that impact what you are sharing with us?”

Jesus lived what he taught the disciples. We should have no less expectation of those who want to disciple us.

On a similar note, just as I’d weaned myself off of my addiction to Mark Driscoll he apparently goes and says something really good and provocative:

And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations — I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.

A few folks are bristling at those remarks, and I admit I don’t have the context for them, but I think he may be on to something. In fact, I read David Fitch’s good and helpful rebuttal and don’t find it much of a rebuttal at all, but a clarification that is nicely compatible with what Mark appears to be saying.

Mark Driscoll is saying: “Lots of people, frequently the most vocal people, are all talk.”

I read David Fitch saying: “Yes, but . . .”

That’s how I’m reading them, anyway, and I think they’re both right.

Lots of folks in the missional conversation (whatever that is) are just conversing. But many of them are not.

One of the great resonances for me in the missional approach to Christian community is the acknowledgment that the work is an investment, that it trusts the Spirit’s role in bearing fruit though the hard work of patient but diligent discipleship.

Go and read Fitch’s five points in the post linked above. It’s good and helpful stuff, and it is addressing what he calls “the modernist desire to measure success” in specific, honest ways.
I will say that I think the issue that Driscoll raises is a valid one, that the question Bill Kinnon is asking is a necessary one. “We hear what you’re saying, Missional People. What are you doing?”

Fitch’s proposed stats (“5-10 years to nourish a missional community into a true functioning existence,” for instance) are sobering. But then, another one of the resonances of the missional approach for me at least is that it bids me give up the tyranny of “results” and simply respond to God’s call to be faithful — faithful as a disciple and faithful as a pastor.
It’s our job to be faithful and the Spirit’s job to be fruitful.

Here’s my encouragement to anybody tracking with this:
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says “Love never fails.” I don’t believe this means that if you love someone you will always succeed in getting what you want from them or in changing them for the better (or whatever). I believe it means that simply loving them (selflessly and sacrificially, as the passage outlines) is a success in and of itself. Love is never a waste, never a failure.
Similarly, if you are obeying God’s call upon your life, if you are leading your church or ministry into a fulfillment of Scripture’s parameters for it, that in itself is success. If you are proclaiming Christ in word and deed, if you are serving and submitting, you are succeeding.

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6 thoughts on “Missional Motive, Impact, Effectiveness”

  1. Bill Kinnon says:

    I must confess that I never thought I’d see my name and Driscoll’s in the same sentence as if we were agreeing with each other.I do think that Fitch’s post and Jonathan Brink’s Baby Factory Church post, that you quote earlier this week, go hand in glove. Along with “What You Win Them With is What You Win Them Too.”

  2. Jared says:

    Heh. I thought you’d “appreciate” that.I’m seeing a few people sort of disregard what Mark appears to be saying, dismissing it as “Oh, he’s got the megachurch mindset going.” But I think he’s addressing a real concern. I think what he’s saying (in his characteristically blunt, hyperbolic way) is related to the answers you’re asking for. Don’t you?

  3. Rob says:

    Agreed. But then, one of the things that folks like Alan Roxburgh and George Hunsberger will tell you is that they’re still, ten years on, working on the move from theory to practice. I posted on this some sixteen months back, but one of the most interesting documents in this whole conversation, I think, is one of the least known: the September/October 2004 issue of Theology Matters. It’s a small publication, but this particular issue combined a concise explanation of the theory from Dr. Roxburgh with two pieces from folks at Cincinnati’s College Hill Presbyterian Church–one pastor, one elder–on what they had done and were doing to remake themselves as a missional church. It’s good reading, and I commend it to you.

  4. Bill Kinnon says:

    If Mark could turn his rhetoric down to a 6 or a 7, from the 11 it seems to always be set at (note Spinal Tap ref) – I’d find him a lot easier to hear. That being said, I would say a community is only missional if it’s sharing the love of Christ. And in that sharing there should be a reasonable expectations that people become disciples of Christ through that sharing. I think that Luke 10 is a blueprint for our call to be missionaries to our own culture.

  5. Bill Kinnon says:

    Rob,That Alan Roxburgh name sounds vaguely familiar. :-)Alan takes a long view of what we are called to accomplish – if you watch this video in the last four minutes, you’ll get a better handle on this. (Alan and I shot the video while in Portugal last month.) But he still believes that our expectation needs to be that people come to faith through the Missio Dei.

  6. Rob says:

    Indeed. :) Somehow, I’d missed the connection between the two of you–not sure how I did that. Thanks for the link to the video; I also appreciated his comment in the thread below it. I think one of the hardest things about church revitalization in our current cultural context is that there’s the expectation of quick-fix church growth; trying to convince people that it takes time to grow a forest isn’t an easy sell. I believe firmly as Jared does that we need to give up the tyranny of results–but leading churches to do the same, especially in the case of churches that are running deep in the red, can be hard to do. It’s just one more way that the church is supposed to be a lot less like the world than we think it is.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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