A missional approach
A missional approach makes a difference in a persons life when they accept this perspective as more than an ad on to their life/church/program etc. This has taken place in my life through a series of paradigm shifts. In this response I will share how three significant paradigm shifts moved me into a missional perspective of how to live, approach ministry, read the bible, understand the church, envision the Kingdom, and understand the Gospel.
The Paradigm shift from life on a mission to life a participant in God’s mission has had a profound impact on the way I understand all of the foundations of Christianity and its practices. For example my view of pastor as moral citizen, holder of Godly truth has shifted to pastor as human being, participant in the community as a learner and cultivator, similar to a Gardner.
In my opinion the pastor can no longer stand on his high moral pulpit and preach down to the congregation. No one is listening and no one will listen outside of the Christian cultural worldview. Even if the pastor gets hip and trendy and makes his church look like a Starbucks meeting the entire consumer needs of his congregation. The church is dieing at an alarming rate in North America and there is a need for the rebirth of the mission shown through Christ’s life/death/resurrection.
The missional approach has had an impact on how I understand the church. I no longer see the church as a place people go to on a Sunday morning. The church is no longer a building people meet in. The definable qualities of a church are found both in the history of the church and in the Biblical example of followers and believers in Christ and Christ’s teachings. The missional view of the church can be understood as a “sent group of people into their local context to witness to the Kingdom of God, joining in the Missio Dei,” according to Guder. The necessity to join fellow believers for a time of worship is birthed out of a shared life and a shared mission. Worship gatherings become missional in their purpose.
How I understand church has changed how I read the Bible.
The missional approach to reading the Bible has greatly changed my perspective. I now read the Bible understanding my own biases and perspectives which influence my interpretation and application. The way I used to read the bible was more like a descriptive manual on how to live life. Although it still holds truth and is teachable for a life lived according to biblical teaching it is not the soul source of how I understand truth. I no longer believe I can hold the key to absolute Truth by reading, studing and understanding the “right” perspective on the bible. I still believe the bible is inspired by God, but I no longer hold the foundations of my upbringing as absolute truth.
The missional approach to reading the bible simple states, “What is God’s mission according to… fill in any book of the bible”. When I read the bible from this perspective, I am able to question some of the foundational beliefs which I once held up as gods. The missional view of the Bible has been formed by my missional approach to ministry. I have not always functioned in a missional way in ministry. I used to see missions as something I did, like evangelize. Now I see life as missional and ministry as an extension of a missional life. Here is story about the paradigm shift from mission as apart of ministry to mission as life and ministry as an extension of that life.
The paradigm shift from bible as absolute Truth, to God as holder of absolute Truth and bible as inspired word of God used through out history to transform lives has help me live more missionally. God is the word, and the word is God. The words written down and explain over thousands of years have changed. God’s word remains the same, because the word is God. We are humans, so we approach the bible with such a finite perspective. This has changed my view of God.
My new paradigm is shifting from God as a Dad or friend I have to persuade to do things my way, to unknowable yet personal through the Triune relationship. God has become a paradox I will follow till I die. This shift has caused me to approach the Gospel as something to live out, and share through community. I approach God in contemplative prayer, spiritual disciplines and a community of believers and unbelievers who share the purposing of bearing witness to God’s Kingdom through God’s Mission.
The Kingdom has become something shared between believers and unbelievers when they participate in the action of witnessing God’s mission. This does not mean I stop proclaiming the transforming reality of Christ through belief in His death resurrection and triune relationship with the Father and the Spirit, nor does my statement mean I believe in universal salvation for all people. I am still in a major shift in my paradigm and I know it will keep happening as God reveals His Kingdom through everything and anything He wants.
The best way for you to understand how I could go through such a shift would be to sit down and have a cup of coffee or brew. Since we can not do that I thought I would give you a piece of my story and you can take it for what it is. A story shared from one person’s perspective, trying with all his might to follow after God, revealed through Christ and given power through the Spirit. This is the story of a life slowly slipping into what looks like a missionary in the North American context instead of a boy trying to fulfill his dream of being a famous youth speaker/pastor.