Notes from the leadership journey!

Category Archives: Mission

“Shaped By God’s Heart”

I recently read Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea. I should have included this book in my doctoral dissertation (how leaders shape missional culture), but I missed it!

Minatrea’s definition of a missional church is …

a reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim His Kingdom in their world. (xvi)

The author argues that over the centuries churches developed a “maintenance mentality,” in which “they retreated to the sanctuary, their place of comfort, growing ever more inward in their orientation.” As a result, “They maintained the status quo” (7). Too many churches are now “focused on survival” (7).

The author distinguishes between “mission-minded” and “missional.” Whereas mission-minded churches support missions, for people in missional churches, “missions is more centered in ‘being and doing’ than ‘sending and supporting’” (10-11). Minatrea asserts, “every member is a missionary” (11). “Missions is not perceived as an expression of the missional church, but as the essence of the church.” (11)

Minatrea describes “four dimensions of missional churches”

  • Love God
  • Live his mission
  • Love people
  • Lead them to follow

The book centers around “nine essential practices of missional churches.”

1. Have a high threshold for membership.

Missional churches are high-threshold churches, and they clearly communicate the responsibilities of church membership. (30)

2. Be real, not real religious.

Minatrea notes, “The hunger for authenticity is epidemic today” (43). He contends, “The litmus test of the missional church is how members live when scattered during the week” (48).

3. Teach to obey rather than to know.

Minatrea states, “The goal of biblical instruction in the missional church is obedience, not simply knowledge” (56). “Their goal is members’ obedience to spiritual revelation” (54).

4. Rewrite worship every week.

Rather than simply going through the motions, and doing things the same way week after week, missional churches incorporate these ingredients …

  • God is the focus of worship.
  • Worship is experiential.
  • Worship is about content, not form.
  • Worship is highly participatory.
  • Worship values creativity.
  • Worship is more than words. (66)

5. Live apostolically.

Today, members of missional churches must be bilingual in that they must be able to communicate in terms that can be understood by those without as well as those within the church. (79)

6. Expect to change the world.

I love this. “The point of the kingdom is transformation” (89).

7. Order actions according to purpose.

It’s so easy for churches to fall into ruts, doing things the way they do because that’s how they’ve always been done. “Missional churches do what they do for specific reasons” (101). In fact, everything in missional churches is done on purpose …

  • They know their purpose.
  • They check that actions are based upon purpose.
  • They let go of what does not serve their purpose.
  • They do only what serves their purpose. (102)

Toward the end of the book, the author argues for simple structures. He says missional churches …

seek to create low-investment structures and keep their mission and purpose as their priority. Their structures must be flexible, capable to adapting quickly to the changing opportunities their context brings to the missional purpose. (145)

8. Measure growth by capacity to release, not retain.

For missional churches, the goal of church growth is not to get bigger. The goal is to equip more people to live as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. The measure has to do with function, not size. Enlargement is a by-product rather than the focus of growth in missional churches. (112)

9. Place kingdom concerns first.

Minatrea notes, “no significant Kingdom accomplishment will occur until churches value Kingdom more than their own sectarian accomplishments” (127).

Wouldn’t it be awesome if all of our churches were growing in these passions and practices?

Cultivating a Movement: Keep Moving Forward!

We’re at the end of our series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, Preserve Unity, Pray Through, and Be Moved With Compassion). I’ve been describing a movement as a people God can move through, a church God can use. A dictionary definition of a movement is, “AContinue →

Cultivating a Movement: Be Moved With Compassion!

We’re nearing the end of my sermon series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, Preserve Unity, and Pray Through). There is clearly a great deal of need in the world. And, the only organization in the world that truly has the power to change the world isContinue →

Cultivating a Movement: Pray Through!

I’m in the home stretch of a sermon series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, and Preserve Unity). Too Busy Not to Pray! We often live as if we’re too busy to pray. In an effort to get things done, we cut out prayer time. This isContinue →

“The Externally Focused Church”

I just read The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson (2004). It’s a good book about the church in action through service. Rusaw and Swanson suggest, “Externally focused churches are internally strong, but they are oriented externally” (17). They are “convinced that good deeds and good news can’t and shouldn’t be separated”Continue →

Cultivating a Movement: Preserve Unity!

I’m near the midpoint of a series of messages on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, and Scatter Seeds). One thing churches must also do is preserve unity! Sadly, churches can be notorious for their lack of unity. When this is the case, the church develops a bad reputation inContinue →

Cultivating a Movement: Scatter Seeds!

I’m working my way through a series of messages on Cultivating a Movement (previous messages include: Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, and Pursue Holiness). The Church has been entrusted with the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ. We have a story to tell … God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,Continue →

Prayers for the Church: Fruit

We bear fruit when we stay connected to Jesus! Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit” (John 15.5a, CEB). We can’t produce fruit on our own. We produce fruit by staying connected to God. Jesus said, “youContinue →

Cultivating a Movement: Pursue Holiness!

Last month, I found myself saying, “I don’t just want to pastor a church; I want to lead a movement!” That sentiment has shaped my first sermon series of the year: Cultivating a Movement. So far, I’ve talked about Surrender and Rely on God’s Power. Another area that’s vital to being a people God canContinue →

Cultivating a Movement: Rely on God’s Power!

I’m working through a sermon series at Centre Grove called, Cultivating a Movement (which was the focus of my latest prayer for the Church). I want to be part of a movement for God. My working definition for a movement is simply a people God can move through, a church God can use! I startedContinue →