Missional in praxis; traditional in thought.

I’ve heard the missional church described as:

  • smaller scale
  • reproducible
  • inexpensive
  • led by / with the people

(no doubt there is much more the to the missional church paradigm, but I think many would at least agree with the above four characteristics)

I resonate with those.

I’m not a big fan of large scale and expensive glitz and glamor in ministry (at least glitz and glamor as defined in a suburban American context; simply having a projector would be seen as glitz and glamor by much of the developing world).

Too often glitz and glamor distracts from the Gospel message; when the glitz and glamor is gone (or not glamorous enough), all too often the new Christian is often gone.

However, some of the missional stuff is so anti-institution and even anti-church.

I don’t resonate with that.  Yes, the current church is blemished and we need be carefully reevaluating all areas, but it just seems that the baby is thrown out with the bath water.

Hence, as of now, I’m missional in praxis, but traditional in thought.

Tim Keller and The Asian-American Church

abcpastor has an insightful piece examining the ministry of Tim Keller as it relates to Asian-American churches.

Those of us who minister to Asian-Americans should take a look into what Redeemer is all about. The number of Asian Americans that attend Redeemer services are phenomenal. Worship services are held primarily in an auditorium at Hunter College. As the article points out, there’s nothing sexy here. The congregation is led by chamber musicians and hymns. The service is simply done. It’s a sharp contrast to the high production efforts found in other megachurches that lean more on the experiential.



Sometimes I feel inadequate to minister to young professionals (who are increasingly becoming a larger part of our community). Having only a small taste of cubicle life, who am I to understand the daily grind of deadlines for reports, sales calls, long meetings, the “evil” boss, and general listlessness that seems to plague corporate America?

Plan A: Should I exit full-time ministry and work for at least a year in a cube?

For me, the answer would be “no” because my passions are not in business; further, I need all the experience I can get in full-on pastoral ministry–I’m a slow learner!

Plan B:

  • Learn from those Christians who are in corporate America.
  • Read Dilbert; watch The Office [NB: I tried the latter last fall.] 😉
  • Engage with ministries like Priority Associates which have some nice training resources.
  • Remind myself that even working in a church has many of the same attributes of corporate America:
    • deadlines for reports => teaching on Fridays; preaching on Sundays
    • sales calls => pastoral care through visitations and follow-up
    • long meetings => long meetings
    • the “evil” boss => [thankfully I haven’t had this one, but other pastors surely have]
    • general listlessness => [yes, can strike pastors as well]

    Those who have not worked in a church often whimsically think that working in a church is like craft and snack time at VBS. But fallen humans work in the church and, sadly, politics are often a reality.

  • Rest in remembering that I can’t literally be in the shoes of every person in the congregation (what about the blue collar worker, the full-time mom, the physician, the lawyer, etc.?), but that God gives others in the Body to help me (see above) and that the Gospel meets the real needs of all.

In short, I’m convinced that people don’t want a pastor who can simply relate to them, they want a pastor who can point to a God who can relate to them. That is, if Joe Pastor spends so much time on trying to be “relevant” to his young professionals that he forsakes his call as a pastor to set forth the glories of the Gospel, he will not only fail in his calling as a pastor, but he will also fail his people by trying to substitute himself–rather than God–as the healing balm.

Gerald Ford and King Jesus

This thoughtful post, which starts off:

The 37th President of the United States died yesterday. Gerald Ford was 93 years old. In hearing the news I was immediately struck by the beauty of King Jesus. You may raise an eyebrow and wonder aloud as to how and why.

reminded me of my recent post on King Jesus. How important it is to see earthly leaders in the proper perspective! Their fleeting reigns are only a shadow of the reality of the eternal reign of the True King.

[via JT]

Longing for a King

Remember the refrain in the book of Judges?

Five times we see this phrase:

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

At the end of Judges the reader is supposed to be crying out, “O God, we need a king.” Of course, the kings that do come next aren’t all that better than the judges.

King David is the best of the bunch, but even he has some substantial fallings.

Now the reader is supposed to be crying out, “O God, we still need a king!”

Hmm …

Perhaps the Magi are on to something when they ask, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matt 2:2)

Perhaps as the soldiers mocked Jesus they, unbeknownst even to themselves, speak truth as they cry: “Hail, king of the Jews!” (Matt 27:29)

Perhaps this all ties into Rev 11:15 where the loud voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Amazing things happen when you read the Bible as one unified Story.

[these thoughts brought to you courtesy of IG500. 🙂 ]

Real Needs

In Greek class we are unpacking Colossians. The theme of reconciliation through Christ comes across loud and clear; quite a contrast to some themes we hear being lauded in Christian circles.

Hence I found this quote by William H. Willimon insightful and related:

Jesus doesn’t meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would’ve never had if I hadn’t met Jesus. He reorders them.

I used to ask seminarians, “Why are you in seminary?” They’d say, “I like meeting people’s needs.” And I’d say, “Whoa. Really? If you try that with the people I know, they’ll eat you alive.”

Now, if you’re a pastor in Honduras, it might be okay to define your ministry as meeting needs, because more people in Honduras have interesting biblical needs – food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get those needs met without prayer. So they’ve moved on to “needs” like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life, and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in.

[ht: AM]