Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why I Like But Don't Use The Term "Missional Community"

"Missional Community" has been a term that has become widely known and embraced and I like it.  I actually love the idea of and am a huge advocate for this movement.  Here are 4 really quick reasons why I like this terminology:
  1. It has encouraged leaders to rethink overall church structures - including myself.
  2. It helps bring intentionality into everything we do.
  3. It has been effective wording to refresh a heart in many people for the lost and has even played a role in helping define a philosophy of evangelism.
  4. It has helped many churches realize they have become ingrown, overly focusing on themselves.
Having said that, at Colossae Church I usually refer to our structure as gospel-centered community instead.  It's not exhaustive, but if you'd like to know more about how we define and articulate this, click here.  Some refer to our structure as being missional, and as of right now it seems appropriate.  It could even be used interchangeably with the term gospel-centered in ways.  But here are 6 quick reasons why I prefer to use the term gospel-centered:
  1. Titling it this way allows us to constantly and naturally articulate the gospel in a number of different ways and to a wide variety of people. 
  2. The idea of living on mission comes from an understanding of the gospel, not the other way around.  We always want to make sure this is clear.
  3. It forces us to evaluate what we are doing by comparing it to the cores/calling of the gospel.
  4. It keeps the heart of why we structure this way at the forefront of everything we do.  
  5. It has helped the people in our church to more naturally see things through the lens of the gospel because it's at the center of any conversation about what we do.  The words we use carry a lot of weight to them.
  6. Using the term gospel-centered seems to be helpful in allowing us to provide a both-and definition before any wrong connotations are attached to terminology.  Using the term missional can sometimes create confusion for those not familiar with the terminology.  They tend to think it insinuates the idea that everything we do is focused outward and thus are left wondering how we then take care of one another.  But we don't believe it's an either-or issue.  In fact we believe living out the gospel requires both caring for one another AND reaching the lost!  To articulate this in our church we say we want to be "the body to the body" and "the body to the world." We think if we lose either of these biblical concepts, the gospel message is lost.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Fundraise

Missionaries fundraise.  It's a reality of life in our world today.  To be released for ministry requires funding.  Period.  Most church planting boot-camps that I know of would suggest a certain dollar amount a planter should raise prior to starting.  Mission organizations usually require a certain amount before someone moves overseas and at times before they even enter the training program.  These organizations don't want to negate people from taking steps of faith by raising support, they view it as a part of the faith process.  And I would agree.  This is a step of faith many people should take.

Many might suggest if you believe in what you are doing and that God is in it, you should ask people to support it.  And I would say, yes, sometimes....maybe.  But I also don't think these convictions require you to seek funding.

I obviously believed in what I was doing when I was planting a church because I thought God was in it.  But I didn't meet with people and ask them to support us.  I did ask our sending church to provide medical/dental benefits for one year, but I didn't ask them for any money.  The bottom line was because I felt like not fundraising was a step of faith God wanted me to take.  Period.  And if God calls you to the same you shouldn't fundraise either.  I wish more people considered this as a possibility.

I could literally leave it at that because that really is the only thing that determined my convictions on this issue.  But, there were some other thoughts running through my head that I will share because they might play a role in your process.  Here are some of those: 
  1. I knew I didn't want to have a conversation with God as I lay awake one night, wondering if the church existed because He was in it or simply because we still had funding to keep it going.
  2. I wanted the people involved in the church, from the beginning, to own it both through their time and financial support.
  3. I know planters that had a chunk of funding upfront, which led them to lose a sense of urgency.  In other words, they didn't have to do anything today because the funding was there for 3 or 5 years.  I know myself well enough to know that I could've allowed this sense of comfort to lead to laziness.  Clearly a character flaw in myself.
  4. I knew of planters that ended up spending money carelessly simply because they had it.  It's not that I thought I would fall into the same tendency.  But it was something that made me think a bit. 
  5. I knew I couldn't do anything apart from God's hand, but we also have to work hard.  And there is something to just having to make it work that serves as a motivator.
I will say that I know planters that have raised support and stayed motivated, viewed it as a sign that God was in it, that never lost a sense of urgency and that people came behind the ministry with their time and financial support.  I would say that's part of the fun.  God does different things through different people at different times.  BUT, more people should consider the possibility that God might be calling them to do something without fundraising and having a chunk in the bank.  Far too many people think that is the only way to go about it and it is the wise thing to do.