I heard Jay Pathak speak recently and he asked the question, “Where are people gathering and why?” They gather in all sorts of places: sporting events, the shopping mall, farmers markets selling organic food, biking groups, concerts… the list goes on.
By guest blogger Randy Lovejoy, part 2 of 2.
As I open the door and walk in I feel the cool air hit my face. It is 8:20am and it is already beginning to heat up in the Echo Park community in Los Angeles. But the air conditioning combined with the sepia colored lighting and the soft, mellow music, gives respite from the heat and space to wake up slowly. Could this be my next flock?
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.