July 19, 2013

Breaking the Missional Code

Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church can Become a Missionary in Your Community, is written by Ed Stetzer & David Putman, and is aimed at the North American market. This requires some hard thinking in order to extract principles that could apply to the UK. Despite the weird sounding title, I really enjoyed the book. It is quite even-handed in critiquing some of the ‘church growth’ movements over the past two decades, and asks some insightful questions about the nature of mission and evangelism in our (post)modern world.

What I enjoyed most was the reminder that what works in one area does not necessarily translate into another—each church planter has to really know his own context and cultural quirks in order to be able to contextualise the gospel effectively (thereby breaking the‘code’). We can often forget this in our rush to find a model that works. In Niddrie, for example, traditional small groups just do not work culturally. People do not sit around in a group chatting about books, never mind something as intimidating as the Bible! People will sit and chat, but not in such a formalised fashion. On the other hand, I recognise that for a great many churches it is a very effective means of multiplication. The point is, engaging our culture and understanding it enough to be able to engage with it in culturally appropriate ways.

My only real concern is that there seems to be an undercurrent of ‘if it’s not growing there’s a problem that needs to be addressed’. That is not always the case, and can be immensely discouraging for those of us working in difficult inner-city estates. It is often long, slow, hard, and painstaking, no matter how well we relate to people and understand our particular culture. People are sinners and they suppress the truth (Romans 1) and our job is to persevere with the truth of the gospel of hope in difficult circumstances. Growth in terms of maturing Christians is still very much a measure of success as bums on seats.

A thought provoking read and worth buying.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Buy on Amazon.com

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