Saturday, August 02, 2008
Breaking the Missional Code
I just finished reading Breaking the Missional Code: How Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community by Ed Stetzer and David Putman.
Ed Stetzer is an experienced church planter who did research for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) at the time that he wrote the book, and now does research for LifeWay Christian Resources and also consults with NAMB. David Putman is also an experienced church planter.
Stetzer and Putman challenge the reader to see North America as a mission field, and use the same techniques in North America that international missionaries use-- particularly understanding the culture and context of your environment and making sure that you do not allow cultural barriers to prevent you from getting the message to people. Too often, pastors have tried to imitate the methods of other successful pastors like Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, rather than trying to discover the unique culture of their own community (which is what they call "breaking the missional code") and then applying that knowledge to designing ministry for their own community. The authors stress that every community is different, and within each community there are different cultures that need different kinds of congregations. A truly missional church will recognize this and seek to plant other churches for other cultures, such as ethnic groups, postmoderns, multi-family housing dwellers, etc.
The authors stress that in today's culture that is changing from modern to postmodern, we should no longer see missions and evangelism as separate activities, nor should we see discipleship and evangelism as separate. To "break the missional code," we must see that postmodern people will often come to the gospel through a slow process, through building relationships and through Bible teaching, since they often come from a culture that is ignore of the Bible, although open to spiritual things. Postmoderns may actually worship, participate in community projects with a church, attend Bible study and listen to sermons for a year or two before being ready to make a commitment to Christ. Thus the missional church must see that missions and discipleship are part of the process of doing evangelism.
This was a thought-provoking and challenging book. Every church leader would benefit from reading this book.