Yesterday on my blog I talked about a ministry to the deaf. People go out to rural areas, find the deaf, and begin teaching them sign language so they can start to function and communicate. In the course of that process, many will respond to Jesus because these people showed love to them.
The question then arises: how do we disciple them? What’s the easiest way for them to get connected? It’s not enough to go to a hearing church and translate. So much of what goes on in a hearing church isn’t relevant to a person without hearing: the jokes, the humor, the relationships. (If you are a hearing person, imagine trying to become part of a deaf church. It wouldn’t be enough to have a translator with you telling you what is going on.)
Have you ever taken a hike with unwilling children? It’s a painful experience trying to take kids along who don’t want to go. They will complain and sabotage in an effort to make the experience so miserable that everyone will want to turn back. It’s better to save yourself and others a great deal of grief and leave them in the parking lot to play their video games until you get back.
I have a new pen-pal: Christian Schwarz in Germany of Natural Church Development International. We’ve been writing back and forth lately discussing the relationship between NCD and the missional movement. Christian’s definition of a healthy church includes it being “mission-shaped.” I asked Christian for his understanding of “mission-shaped.” Below is his response, shared with his permission, because I thought my readers might find it interesting.
In a conversation I had recently with Tad Blackburn, one of the pastors at The Vineyard Church in Long Island NY, he used an interesting phrase: “becoming missional disciples instead of just church disciples.” He used that phrase to describe the change his church is making in the way they are going about discipleship.
Often we define discipleship characteristics by faithfulness at attending certain meetings, as opposed to living and loving like Jesus did. Yet the focus with true discipleship isn’t just producing people that function well within the church, but people that pursue the mission of Jesus. There’s often a significant difference.
By guest blogger Gary Reinecke, www.infocusnet.org
Part 1 of a 3-part series on liturgical churches
For the last 20+ years I’ve been working more frequently with liturgical churches. By liturgical, I mean those churches that are trying to incorporate the ancient traditions of the church into their ministries. They seek to integrate symbols, rituals, art, sound, and scents into the worship experience, creating a sacred space and ambiance. These churches that have a high view of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and have a commitment to the Great Commission. In essence, liturgy is the work of the people.
A friend of mine lives in a neighborhood that has a lot of young kids and neighborhood schools so many of the people know each other. While I was there visiting, I saw moms out on the sidewalk talking while their kids were playing outside.
They were comparing notes and communicating: “My daughter is having trouble with X. What are you doing to you’re your kids deal with that?” “Your son fell down on my sidewalk and I bandaged up his scrape– he’s fine now.” “I just found out our kids left a mess while they were playing in my basement. When can your daughter come back to help clean up? I want to teach them responsibility.”