Randy Harris and I recently held a Theology Lab at the Boerne church just north of San Antonio. During this lab I facilitated discussion about the interrelated biblical themes of mission dei (the mission of God), the kingdom of God, and incarnation. During the discussion of each Theology we also reflected on related Practices and First Steps in developing these practices.
Randy Harris led us in reflecting on the major tenets of the Christian faith beginning with “humanity” and concluding with a theology of “church” and the nature of spiritual formation. It was a transformative lab of church leaders!
During our final debriefing, one elder asked, “How can we summarize the content of this lab so others in the church can grasp what we have learned? What is our elevator speech?” Continue reading
Last week I blogged about Tiffany, a prototype of a post-modern person. Tiffany is broken by sin and intimidated by “church” yet receptive to the Gospel. I suggested that we use divine imagination to see “things as God sees them, to catch a dream as big as God is!” This imagination helps us to jump out of “what is” into “what God desires us to be!” (Harris 2004). It enables us to develop paradigms for church planting and renewal for people like Tiffany—for those living in the postmodern, post-Constantinian, and increasingly post-Christian contexts of Western culture.
This divine imagination within Mission Alive is embedded in seven small words: “Equipping Kingdom Communities on Mission with God.” These words form the essence of Mission Alive.
Equipping at its core involves “character”—the spiritual nurture of the soul to reflect the qualities of God—his love, his holiness, and his faithfulness. Ministry to Tiffany is defined by these qualities. She learns to walk with God by being with us, by seeing us “reflect the Lord’s glory” as we are “being transformed into his likeness” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Equipping also involves “skill,” or ministry practice. How do we build a discipling culture which nurtures Tiffany to spiritual maturity? How is she equipped within the community for works of ministry (Eph. 4:12)? How is Tiffany nurtured to commune with God; become a part of a worshipping, transforming community; and sent out to make other disciples? How does she develop God’s compassion for the poor and the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19)?
The church provides the matrix for both her spiritual formation and equipping for ministry. Continue reading
In a broad sense there are two types of Christian leaders: Those who listen primarily to human voices and those who focus their hearts on listening to God. The first try to navigate competing human preferences, expectations, and desires with the goal of satisfying everyone. The second acknowledge that only God in his Holy Spirit can form us into his kingdom people. The first seek answers below—in the world; the second above—in God. That is the purpose of Mission Alive’s Theology Lab: to teach Christian leaders to move from theology to practice by hearing the voice of God.
For us, a theology of mission, like the rudder of a boat, guides the mission of God and provides direction. My wife is fond of remembering how our children frequently wanted to “drive” when we took them on pedal-boats. At times they were so intent on pedaling, making the boat move, that the rudder was held in an extreme position, and we went in circles. Realizing their mistake, but still intent on pedaling, they would move the rudder from one extreme to the other so that we zig-zagged across the lake. When Christians operate without the foundation of a missional theology, their lives and ministries tend to zig-zag from fad to fad, from one theological perspective and related philosophies of ministry to another. A theology of mission, like the rudder of a boat, provides practical direction for Christian ministry. Continue reading
As Christian ministers, we intuitively know that the Good News of the Kingdom of God is the cutting edge of church planting and renewal. We believe the words of Paul in Rom. 1:16:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (NIV).
“It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him” (The Message).
The reality, however, is that most of us are hesitant to speak this message to those in Western culture who think religion is a matter of personal conviction and private interpretation. Our culture has a tendency to render us to silence!