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Missional Church… simple

I have written before about the concerns I have when every service, or the majority of services, follow the model of being a “seeker service” – with a primary focus on seeking to convert people, and even have them drawn into the life of the Christian community. The primary focus and goal of worship, IMO, should be ….. worship.

There is nothing wrong with having the occasional “seeker service” – but many services appear to follow the model of treating everyone as visitors. Nothing is assumed. No responses are thought of as being “by heart”. There is constant commentary and instructions. And every last word is on a sheet, book, or screen. A visitor to the community will not feel out of place, but also will not feel that anyone here has ever worshipped here previously.

Contrast this with a community where certain traditions and responses are assumed. Yes, a visitor will not be able to respond at every point, and will not necessarily understand all that is occurring and why. But, if they are comfortable with this, someone sits alongside them, helping them find their way. Or maybe they have been brought to the service by someone else. The visitor realises this is a community that knows each other, that appreciates being together, and that clearly has been meeting regularly – “maybe I am attracted to join such a community”…

Worship for the sake of worship – not primarily as a tool for evangelism – can mean people go out from such worship to live their Christian life in their everyday lives, attracting others through their words and actions. And then within the Christian community there are processes of incorporation to help newcomers become part of this community.

If that is now to be called “Missional Church” and contrasted with “Program Church” maybe that’s just a new way of allowing this other way of being church to be heard.

A good reflection on the Day of Pentecost when we all reflect on the way we live out our life, mission, and ministry in every-day life.

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8 Responses to Missional Church… simple

    • A little of both sounds a very healthy place to start reflecting from to me, David; as I said – I think there’s nothing wrong with having the occasional seeker service.

  1. I was deeply offended when the Baptist minister at my Mother’s funeral began to try to “save” those who had come for the service. I thought it was quite inappropriate. That is one reason I am happier in the Episcopal/Anglican Church. We don’t badger people to join the church but instead give them a comfortable place to worship.

    • I am so sorry, Milly. I couldn’t be present at someone’s wedding, Milly, and they sent me a recording of it. The minister’s sermon had the following structure: today we are present at a wedding; down the road there is a funeral; do you know where you are going where you die?… This was not an Anglican priest, but I’m sure appropriate and abusive worship leadership does not correspond to denominational boundaries. One hopes, on the other hand, that those well-formed in the liturgical tradition understand there is more to worship than perennially advocating for an “altar call”.

  2. This video does not appear to be about seeker-sensitive worship. If anything it is advocating against that model (aka the “attractional church”)

    I especially appreciate the flipping of arrows toward the end of the video. Evangelism is not supposed to happen in the church building; it is supposed to happen in the world.

  3. Bosco,
    Thank you for this offering. I’ve seen this video before. Unfortunately, it is slightly misleading on the definition of the Missional Church. The Missional Church is NOT saying that we should just be doing evangelism elsewhere, outside of church, but instead that we, under the Lordship of Christ, are to live our lives in accordance with what Christ has taught. This is not a different approach to evangelism, but a different approach to worship. Missional is a way of living, in community, with people of the faith, and those who are not. And if a person has experienced someone as a Christ follower, they’ll ask, be involved, and have a connection to see if it’s really something to check out. Missional is primarily focused on the life-changing aspects of Christ.
    And it’s funny that this video has a tagline of “simple”. The Missional way is not simple. It’s not, “if you just say these 8 words,” but instead a call to die to oneself, and to live in Christ.

    • Yes, Susan, I understand what the missional approach is. In many ways it is expressed in those who follow Charles de Foucauld, “I want to preach the gospel with my whole life”. I embedded the video here to reflect a bit more on the purpose of worship, which for some is so quickly confused with evangelism. Thanks for your clarification.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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