Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Missional in Action - Number 2

I wanted to share this example of church that’s taking small steps to be missional. While to some this may not seem like anything special, but speaking as a pastor, to get your congregation to do anything outside the box is difficult. Jerry your congregation is to be commended for stepping out. Keep up the good work! Here’s the email he shared with me.

Jerry,

This is another Jerry from Carol Stream, Illinois. Our church has begun the process of trying to be more missional, though it is a slow process to be sure. We are a small church in the PCUSA. Over the last few months a missional task force has been meeting where we have read through "Treasure in Clay Jars as well as the 2 Corinthians Bible Study that Guder did at the GA a few years back (I have been greatly influenced by Guder, having had the opportunity to dialogue with him at Princeton.). We are slowly (I hope!) beginning to see that we aren't as much a place to come into as a place to be sent from.

One small note of encouragement is that we have begun focusing on the apartment complex next door to us. (As an aside we have struggled with having any children in the church and I have remarked about the irony that we are a church whose parking lot is flooded with kids Monday-Saturday and nearly absent of any on Sunday.) During the summer we actively invited the kids from the apartments to join us for VBS and were delighted (and overwhelmed) when 10-12 of them came. Then last Saturday we hosted a picnic solely geared toward the apartment complex. It truly was a risky thing for our church to engage in but despite the poor weather we had 25-30 kids there as well as 20 or so adults. The significance, it seems to me, is that the church has begun to see that this whole church thing is not about us. That it is about intentionally making these walls so porous that at some point there are no walls at all.

But it is a slow, slow process. One which requires a lot of praying, and a LOT of patience. People's understanding of the church did not develop over the last few weeks but over the last few decades. And some young pastor like myself is not going to be able to change that by just saying, "This is what ought to be." Yes, it takes saying that, but it takes saying it in many different ways and in many different venues. And, I might add, it takes doing so in great humility, understanding that it isn't like the Spirit has just entered the building!

Thanks for listening.

Jerry Deck
Pastor at Heritage Presbyterian Church

Thanks Jerry for allowing me to publish this.

So what other things is your church doing? I want to hear your story! Click here for more info.

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1 comment:

Colin Lamm said...

Hello Jerry,

Thank you for posting this letter from Jerry.

A couple of points that stood out to me were the lines, "[we are] beginning to see that we aren't as much a place to come into as a place to be sent from" and "it is about intentionally making these walls so porous that at some point there are no walls at all," and finally, "it is a slow, slow process".

When it comes to our local church, I completely concur that change comes very slowly. The leadership has been trying for the past 3-5 years to impliment change, and inject vitality into the congregation, but with very incremental results. We have gone through the "Purpose Driven Life", and are soon goiing to be going through "40 days of Community". Each of these 'programs' came to pass with much criticism from a significant segment of the church.

The intent of these programs was (is) to help people see that this chirstian life is not all about us hiding behind the church walls, having our prayer meetings for those out there doing something, and giving money to the professionals who minister outside the walls. It seems ludicrous but this is the heart of the battle.

Encouragingly there is a small group of people who are dissatisfied with this approach, or predisposition. We are continually praying that the Lord will change the hearts of those who are resistant to tangibly reaching out, while we get on with the task ourselves. In light of this I must continuously confess my propensity in taking this work (to change peoples' hearts) back out of God's hands.

So, not a report of great success, but nevertheless there are some signs of life. . . .

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