Posted by: michaelhanegan | January 10, 2010

The Declaration and Address and Missional Churches of Christ…

The following is a chapter from the book One Church: A Bicentennial Celebration of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address. The chapter is by Douglas A. Foster and is titled, “A Contemporary Restating of the 13 Propositions.”

I believe that this document holds not only some key thinking in our religious heritage, but also some important perspective that may be helpful in our discussion of creating missional life in Churches of Christ.

Proposition 1
Christ established one church–just one. This church is made up of everyone who has faith in Christ and is trying to follow him in the ways God’s Spirit in scripture has told us, and who others can see are being transformed into his likeness by the way they act. No one else has a right to be called a Christian.

Proposition 2
It is physically impossible for all Christians to be together in one place to worship and work, so there have to be local groups of Christians that reflect the culture, language, and context of each place. These groups will not all look, think, or act alike, yet they are all part of Christ’s church and ought to recognize it. They must accept and embrace each other just as Christ has accepted each of us. This will happen when Christians have the mind of Christ–that is, when they are willing to give themselves for those Christ died to redeem. This is the rule of Christ. This and this alone will join them perfectly.

Proposition 3
Therefore, nothing should be required to recognize, fellowship, embrace, work, worship, and be fully and visibly united with all Christians that is not specifically made a requirement by God in his word. Nothing should be required in the way local bodies of Christians operate that is not specifically required by Christ and his Apostles for the church. Furthermore, the chief requirements for full fellowship that God has declared are our love for God and for people. This love is formed by our understanding of God’s love for us shown through Christ.

Proposition 4
Both the Old and New Testaments are essential parts of the revelation of God’s nature and work. They cannot be seperated. While it is true that the practices required in the Old Testament (sacrifices, temple worship, priesthood, etc.) are not in force for Christians and that the good news of God’s saving work is found fully in the New Testament, both testaments teach us about God’s nature and work. The Bible is not primarily a constitution that functions as a legal document to consult in legal disputes. It is, instead, the sword of the Spirit; it is a place where we encounter God’s Spirit and are transformed increasingly into the likeness of Christ. Attending to scripture is essential to the visible unity of Christ’s church.  

Proposition 5
The Bible does not spell out in detail everything Christians are supposed to think, do or be–that is just not the nature of scripture. When there are specific actions Christians are told to take, there is almost never a set of detailed requirements for how to do it. Humans often want more detail and try to expand on the specifics, often making them requirements for accepting other Christians or groups of Christians. That is wrong. Again, Christians are those who say they are Christians and who show that they are by the way they live. No one should be allowed to require anything for recognition and fellowship that is outside of scripture and its work of transformation.

Proposition 6
God gave us the ability to think and reason–that is a good thing. If, however, in the process of using our reason we come to conclusions that other Christians do not reach, and that causes us to reject them, we have been deceived by the evil one. Our pride has taken over and stopped our continued growth into the mind of Christ–a mind of complete humility and self-sacrifice. Human reason is not the ultimate standard for truth. Christians ought to be growing constantly in their understanding of the profound truths of the gospel–that’s part of our spiritual growth as communities. But requiring or even expecting others to be where you are is not conducive to the visible unity Christ so much wants.

Proposition 7
Again, it is a good thing to use the intellectual abilities God has given us to plumb the depths of the marvelous truths of God. It is a good thing to think, and struggle and write about these matters. Individual Christians and Christian communities can and should draw great benefit in their spiritual growth from such efforts. Statements of belief can be very helpful in drawing our minds to the unspeakable riches and blessings we have been given and of which we can and should tell others. However, we must realize that such statements are the product of our human reasoning which, like everything else human, is not perfect. Even when we reach a mature level of doctrinal understanding, we need to remind ourselves constantly that there will always be Christians at all maturity levels–but they are still Christians!

Proposition 8
Once again, having an understanding of every Christian truth is not a requirement to be a Christian, a part of Christ’s church. No one who is trying to follow Christ ought to be forced to confess any belief beyond what they understand and know. All a person needs to know to be part of Christ’s church is that they are lost and that salvation is through Christ. When they confess that they believe in Christ and that they want to obey him fully according to his word–nothing else can be required.

Proposition 9
Everyone who confesses belief in Christ and commits to obey him, and who shows the reality of their commitment by the way they live, should consider each other as the precious saints of God, should love each other as sisters and brothers, children of the same family and Father, temples of the same Spirit, members of the same body, subjects of the same grace, objects of the same divine love bought with the same price, and joint heirs of the same inheritance. Whoever God has joined together this way, no one should dare divide.

Proposition 10
Division among Christians is a sickening evil, filled with many evils. It is anti-Christian because it destroys the visible unity of the body of Christ. It is as if Christ were cutting off parts of himself and throwing them away from the rest of his body! What a ludicrous picture! Division is anti-scriptural, since Christ himself specifically prohibited it, making it a direct violation of Christ’s will. It is anti-natural, because it makes Christians condemn, hate and oppose one another–people who are actually obligated in the strongest way to love each other as sisters and brothers, just like Christ loved them. In other words, division repudiates everything Christianity is supposed to stand for.

Proposition 11
Two things are responsible for all the divisions and corruptions in Christ’s church through the centuries. One is a neglect or even and fundmental misunderstanding of God’s will for us in scripture–that we have the mind of Christ and be transformed into his likeness. The other comes from the first. Some Christians, assuming they are “right,” that they have gotten the “facts” perfectly, have assumed the authority to impose their conclusions on others as terms of recognition and fellowship.

Proposition 12
In reality, everything needed for the church to reach the highest state of perfection and purity on earth is first to receive as members only those who have understood their lostness and confessed their faith in Christ and commitment to follow him according to scripture; second, to keep as members only those who show those commitments in their everyday lives; and third, to see that ministers who reflect these ideals, preach only what is clearly taught in scripture. Finally, they must stick close to what scripture makes primary, seen in the example of the early church in the New Testament, without being distracted or corrupted by human tendencies toward pride and control.

Proposition 13
Finally, in every body of Christians decisions must be made about precisely how to conduct its work and worship. Scripture does not dictate such details. Whatever the best way of doing things for the local context should be adopted. These procedures, however, should always be understood as expedients or conveniences for that time and place. Others who do things differently should never be denigrated or condemned for such things, and when decisions are made to do things differently in the future, such changes should never be an issue of fighting or division.

In the coming weeks I hope to look more closely at some of these propositions and how they might serve to help us creating missional life in our congregations. What did you see that jumped out at you? Is there anything else in the missional conversation that correlates to what Campbell was saying here?

Our history, our heritage, contrary to the opinion of some, I believe is not a liability but an enormous asset to being people who are called out, formed, and sent for the sake of the world and the glory of God.

Posted by: mattdabbs | October 12, 2009

From in the Door to in the Mission

There is certainly a difference between just getting someone “in the door” on Sunday and actually getting them to be a part of the mission of the church. It is important for congregations to evaluate how effective they are at making that transition in the lives of those who are seeking. I want to toss out one idea that is simple but has been transformative in the way our congregation views involvement.

In the past we used more of a “general recommendation” approach to involvement. Someone places membership, the elders find out what they are good at, contact the deacon or ministry leader over that area so and hope everything clicks. The results were not very good. Deacons and ministry leaders are volunteer help who only have so much time and attention to give their area. Most have a difficult time keeping up with the general recommendation approach.

We have moved to job descritions rather than general recommendations. By working through the following process we have developed an effective way to involve people in the ministries of the congregation:

  1. We start by asking deacons and ministry leaders what their area would look like if it was firing on all cylinders.
  2. The deacon/ministry leader is then asked to write down what actions would need to occur for their ministry to be effective.
  3. Next we ask them how many people would it take to make that happen.
  4. Then they write out detailed job descriptions for people to agree to do
  5. Last, they begin asking people to do the job descriptions they outlined.

This has several advantages to the old approach:

  1. People know exactly what they are being asked to do and are agreeing to do it. This is way better than saying to them, “I think you would be great in evangelism…” It is saying, “You are signing up to host a Bible study that will be every other Tuesday night in your home. You will be expected to provide some light refreshments and adequate/comfortable space for 6-10 people to study the Bible together.”
  2. It is measurable – we can tell if it is happening.
  3. The deacon/ministry leader and the volunteer are all on the same page
  4. The congregation becomes more mission minded as these needs/job descriptions are regularly brought up before the congregation.
Posted by: michaelhanegan | May 2, 2009

Towards a more Holisitic Understanding of Salvation…

This is the first post in what I hope will become a valuable discussion.

What is salvation?

Some of the responses would be…

  • Forgiveness of Sins
  • Eternal Life
  • Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • A Home in Heaven (when we die)
  • Membership in the church

But for the most part we tend to limit our discussions (and maybe this reflects a limited understanding on our part) of salvation to just a couple of metaphors.

James D. G. Dunn in his book, The Theology of the Apostle Paul gives a list of Pauline metaphors for salvation. Keep in mind this list is only from Paul’s writings and not the rest of the New Testament.

  • Justification
  • Redemption
  • Liberation and Freedom
  • Reconciliation
  • Waking Up
  • Night Turning into Day
  • Putting on or Taking off Clothes or Armor
  • Receiving an Invitation
  • Writing a Letter
  • Sowing and Watering
  • Irrigation
  • Grafting
  • Harvest
  • Seal or Stamp
  • Priestly Service (but not the person of “Priest”)
  • Circumcision
  • Washing and Purifying
  • New Creation
  • New Birth

Listen to the concluding thoughts that Dunn offers after this intriguing list…

Two lines of reflection emerge from consideration of such a kaleidoscope of images. One is that these metaphors bring out the reality of the experience of the new beginning for Paul. Evidently they all described something in the experience of his readers with which they could identify. Something had happened in their lives, something of major importance. Underlying all these metaphors was some tremendously significant event, a turning pointof great moment. One does not use images like birth, marriage, and death for everyday occurrences. They only function as images for events which are literally life-changing.

…it means that many of Paul’s first readers experienced the gospel as acceptance, liberation, or rescue, as cleansing and new dedication, as a dying to an old life and beginning of a new. There is little evidence that Paul preached for conviction of sin or to stir up feelings of guilt. Nevertheless, for so many of his converts the gospel was received and experienced as an answer to unresolved riddles, as a solution to their plight. In a word, Paul’s gospel met real and felt needs.

…the very different metaphors Paul drew upon were presumably attempts to express as fully as possible a reality which defied a simple or uniform or unifaceted description. There was something so rich and real in the various experiences of conversion which Paul’s gospel brought about that Paul had to ransack the language available to him to find ways of describing them.

…For the wide variety of metaphors presumably reflects a wide variety of experiences. Given that variety, it would be a mistake to take any one of Paul’s metaphors and to exalt it to some primary or normative status so that all the others must be fitted into this mould. … The danger is that the event of new beginning in faith comes to be conceptualized as of necessity following a particular pattern, the same for everyone.

…To attempt to dispense with metaphors or to reduce their poetry to the prose of clinical analysis would be as great a disservice as any that theology could be guilty of.

(Here he cites Fitzmeyer quoting: [Paul offers us] “not theories but vivid metaphors, which can, if we let them operate in our imagination, make real to us the saving truth of our redemption by Christ’s self-offering on our behalf… It is an unfortunate kind of sophistication which believes that they only thing to do with metaphors is to turn them into theories.”)

So how can we take into to account the “kaleidoscope” of images that we have for salvation to better understand just exactly what God does, is doing, and will do in the event/process that we call “salvation”?

Posted by: michaelhanegan | May 2, 2009

Newbigin on “Election”…

“The doctrine of divine election has fallen into disrepute because those who were chosen and called (“the elect”) so often saw themselves as exclusive benficiaries of God’s choice, rather than as trustees on behalf of all the nations. But this disastrous misundertanding, so manifest in the story of Israel and in the life of the church in all generations, cannot negate the fundamental truth of the doctrine of election. It is God who chooses, calls, and sends.”

— The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission

Posted by: michaelhanegan | April 27, 2009

Missional Going Mainstream?

So I’m in my car this afternoon. My wife is in the back seat making funny faces at my little boy and we are listening to one of the major Christian radio stations in town. Their “information update” came on with a “positive and encouraging story” and it was about more churches going missional.

In the following 60 seconds there was a sound bite from Reggie McNeal about missional church being about BEING the church instead of GOING to church and that it really was a challenge to the way that a lot of communities of believers have “done church.”

The reporter concluded that many are joining this “new movement” and that many others are subsuming their ministry and congregations under the banner of “missional” whatever that means.

My questions about what I heard were this…

— Is “missional” really a “movement”?
— If “a lot” or even maybe a “small majority” of people are “joining the movement” would it really be missional?

Here’s why I ask. Being missional, missional theology, missional ecclesiology, or whatever you want to call it is ALWAYS going to be from the margins and therefore will also be marginalized in the wider church. While there may come a time when this theological framework gains momentum and practicioners I think that we must be suspect of much of the “explosion” that we have seen in the “movement.”

And let me be VERY clear. I am not saying that WE need to be suspect of THEM. But that we need to be checking ourselves, our hermeneutics, our theology, our ecclesiology, and our motives to determine if we are truly joining God in his mission, or if we have simply instead (and more dangerously) crafted a new and more “relevant” image of God and are serving in that god’s mission.

What does it mean to be missional? Many people are asking. But I hope that we will simply SHOW them instead of merely trying to tell them.

Welcome to the Journey.

Posted by: mattdabbs | April 19, 2009

Parable of the Sea

Have you seen this video yet? It is an interesting take on what church can become if we get caught up in the wrong things…Here is the link.

Posted by: WesWoodell | April 3, 2009

Would you want your own morning show?

So my buddy from Memphis, Tripp, came into San Francisco yesterday with his wife Nhung (pronouced Young). I picked them up at the airport and brought them over to my house for dinner with the fam.

Tripp and I worked together for several years at 94.1 The Buzz as DJs. If there was a radio function during those years, such as a concert, club, or bar appearance, you could bet me and Tripp would be there and we’d be together (unless one of us was on the air at the time).

So Tripp is a mass media big-shot now. He’s a program director at a station in Memphis, and I was joking with him yesterday about how I might call him up for a job someday. He came back with a response of his own: “Well, what are you doing right now? Want your own morning show? You’ve always wanted to do mornings, haven’t you Wood?”

Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun.

I told him I appreciated the thought, but that I was a little busy in San Francisco right now (and would be for a few years). But it got me to thinking – what kind of missional opportunities might present themselves for a person who were in a position like that? If I had my own mildly entertaining morning show, how many people would be willing to listen to me tell them about Jesus because of my job?

Now, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere – just thinking out loud. I think some people’s ministry would be most effective if they weren’t working in ministry full-time.

What do you think?

[Originally posted on]
Posted by: dvdbrumley | February 7, 2009

An Atheist’s Point of View

Embedded is a video of Penn Gillette from the magic/comedy duo Penn & Telller.   This man is an outspoken atheist.  Although he rambles on quite a bit, he raises an interesting question at the end that every person trying to be missional or motivate others to join in the cause should hear.  This man’s idea about the mission of Christianity was changed by one man being missional.  Enjoy.

Posted by: dvdbrumley | January 20, 2009

Who is in Your Life? Reflections from a Study of Isaiah

As one begins to read the book of Isaiah, they are introduced to a story of God’s patience being tested to the breaking point. Fed up with the people of Judah, God has made the decision to allow foreign men into their country and to utterly destroy (minus a remnant, Isaiah 10 & 11) the people of Judah in a hope that they would some day return to Him. This is a decision that had to have troubled God and Isaiah was his messenger to Ahaz, the king of Judah. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to tell him that yes, hell was coming, but that everything would be fine. At this point, God finds (as if he didn’t already know) that Ahaz’s trust in God was in word and not need (see Isaiah 7). This refusal of Ahaz to accept the peace that God was attempting to bestow sent God’s wrath to a different level and a subsequent worsening of the pain that God was going to allow to be put upon the people of Judah.
As the study of Isaiah goes further we learn that God promises a redeemer to not only the people of Judah, but to all. That redeemer is of course Jesus Christ and no book in the Bible more succinctly sets the table for Christ’s coming than Isaiah. Praise God.
There are other, less important lessons in this story of Ahaz found in the first part of the book of Isaiah. One of these is one that when I presented it to my Sunday School class of brilliant young adults was debated heavily. That lesson is that when we don’t trust God with all aspects of our lives, no matter how small or important it seems to us, that His protection (a.k.a. Christ’s intercession for Christians) is lowered from around us and people are allowed into our lives, homes, and affairs that will rip us apart given the chance. Just as God’s lowering of protection from around Judah allowed the Assyrians and Syrians to come in and destroy their nation, the same applies to our lives today. When we refuse to trust God with our total care He will remind us that we should (if we’re lucky).
No more so can this be applied than to the recent financial crisis in our nation. If this hits you wrong, then I am sorry but sometimes we need to be reminded of what our lack of faith is doing to our lives. That being said, if you have/are investing money in the stock market, 401Ks, or other elaborate investments in which you say, here, take my money, do as you please (good or evil) with it for now, and then let me reap the benefits of it later, then you are showing a lack of trust in God and you need to examine your faith (as I do as well). You are essentially saying “God, I know you told me you would care for me but I better follow what the world tells me to do on this one so I can have a happy retirement and send my kids to college.” That doesn’t sound like trust to me.
We Christians so eagerly and happily hand over differing percentages of our monthly incomes to stock brokers who do God knows what with your money. We fund debauchery!!! When is the last time you checked the faith of the owners of your company that you contribute to keep afloat and get richer. Think for a second about your financial advisers. Have they ever offered to discuss the gospel with you? Have you ever followed up with what foundations, causes, or religious efforts the companies you invest in support? I don’t know a great many stock brokers but from what I’ve seen in their depictions in movies, they aren’t the best people in the world. What are you saying to God when you trust someone like that more than Him regarding your financial future? What are you saying to God when you contribute more to a company that is pro-choice (as if you’ve even checked) than to your church contribution? Need we be reminded that Job rued the day he was born when God lowered his protection from around him?
I am inspired to write this as men close to me have lost millions in recent months. These are holy and good men and when you hear them discuss their losses they do so with a undertone of regret that they may have forgotten what was important. These people that God allowed into their lives have now caused them pain, worry, and heartache and it saddens me to see it. I think to Matthew 25 and I see men’s hidden money being spread out to those who already have more than they can count. How sad.
I urge all who read this to evaluate your finances and investments and look at who you are giving your money to. Is it not an idol set up to the god of success and wealth? If not then God bless you for being a good steward of his gifts. If so, look to Jesus’ words in the gospel and find in your heart what he expects us wretched sinners to do with the gifts he allows us to receive. Do it before God lowers his protection more. Avoid prosperity gospel and remember that God doesn’t want you to be happy financially, He wants you to be happy spiritually. God bless you.

Posted by: michaelhanegan | January 3, 2009

New Resources Page…

In an effort to share as much material as possible we have created a new resources page that has books, blog links, articles, videos, and soon a blogroll. Check it out. If you are aware of something not currently on the list leave a comment on that page or email Michael Hanegan.

Posted by: rogueminister | December 16, 2008

Church as Public Library

Last week was final exams for me, so I spent a lot of time at the local public library working on papers and reading. I noticed something that I thought would be helpful as we try to envision what Christ’s church should look like these days. Perhaps, something like this…

church        AS      Library                                      

First let me say that I am unoffically ADD so I get distracted very easily. So as I was reading and writing, I kept looking up to see what was going on around me. I noticed something that is fairly rare around here, diversity. Outside of the seminary and college, Jessamine County Kentucky is probably one of the least diverse places on earth or at least in the United States. Almost 95% of the people are white and the average income is well above the average in KY.

The library however painted a very different picture, which now that I look back on all the public libraries I have visited, seems to be true all over the place. There was a wide variety of skin tones, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, and ages at the library. I even had conversations with a black man working on his Ph.D, a white stay-at-home mother of three, and a working class grandmother. There were those who appeared to be homeless surfing the internet and keeping out of the rain, while a lady continuing her education was sitting at the coffee shop and a group of kids were browsing the DVD section.

This to me is a great vision of what church should be. It should be a place where people of all backgrounds, from every walk of life, can come for refuge and for knowledge and information. It should provide a variety of services, free of charge, and give all people an opportunity to better themselves. 

Our library here even has a book delivery van that takes a variety of media to those who cant make it to the library building. Again, we see a good example for the church we should go to those who can’t or won’t come to us and take them the good news of Jesus and the resources to better themselves.

Next time you meet with your congregation I challenge you to look around. What do you see? Do you notice a relatively homogenous group or do you see people from a variety of races, cultures, socio-economic situations, and education levels? If you see mostly people that look like you, then how can we change that? How do we learn from the public library as we seek to bear witness to Jesus and his diverse Kingdom.

Posted by: mattdabbs | December 11, 2008

Too Important to Be Shy

I am an introvert. You may not know it if you spend some time with me but I am. When I was a kid I lived out in the country and there weren’t any other kids around except my older brother. He didn’t care for sports so I would go out in the yard and play baseball by myself. I really didn’t mind it because I was shy to begin with. I found out in college that being an introvert was great for the gift of study. It didn’t bother me a bit to stay in my room at Harding for hours and hours doing homework and studying for tests. In my years at Harding I made two trips to Little Rock and none to Memphis for entertainment. Deep down inside I am about as introverted as they come.

When I was in graduate school in Gainesville, I heard a guest speaker one Sunday night at church say that shy people didn’t really have to share the Gospel. They could use other talents for God besides talking to people about Jesus. When he was done I lovingly shared with him the fact that I was an introvert but I didn’t mind sharing Jesus with people. He said, “You don’t seem like an introvert to me.” I didn’t mind being so non-introvert like by walking up to him and sharing my view because I thought it was an important thing to do. I told him that when we think things are important we will find a way to talk about them. Take the biggest introvert who is a sports fan and talk about their favorite team around them and how extroverted they become. Why? Because the subject is important to them. Sharing the Gospel is for all of God’s people because the message is too important not to share. We all have comfort zone issues to overcome and we cannot let that keep people from hearing about Jesus. When the message is important we will find a way to share it.

Posted by: Nick Gill | December 2, 2008

The Call of the Kingdom

One of the clearest expressions of contempt for Christianity is credited to the philosopher Celsus who wrote this.

“Their injunctions are like this. ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near. For these abilities are thought by us to be evils. But as for anyone ignorant, anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’ By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonorable and stupid, and only slaves, women, and little children.”

“Other mystery religions trying to gain converts say this: ‘Whosoever has pure hands and a wise tongue.’ And again, others say: ‘Whosoever is pure from all defilement, and whose soul knows nothing of evil, and who has lived well and righteously, come to us.’ Such are the preliminary exhortations of those who promise purification from sins. But let us hear those Christians call. ‘Whosoever is a sinner they say, ‘whosoever is unwise, whosoever is a child, and, in a word, whosoever is a wretch, the kingdom of God will receive him.’”

“Why on earth this contemptible preference for sinners?”

Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987; reprint 1993), p 563

PS – Thanks to Jeremy Morris for sharing this quote.

Posted by: WesWoodell | November 26, 2008

Coming and Going – good article from

Check out the article “Coming and Going” posted today at

The writer of the article had a sit down with Neil Cole and Ed Young Jr. – two very different leaders with very different outlooks on how the mission of God should be carried out.

Neil Cole is the founder of Church Multiplication Associates and writer of Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens (good book, btw).

Ed Young Jr. is the senior pastor of Fellowship Church– a multi-site, satellite-linked megachurch with four campuses in the Dallas metroplex and a fifth in Miami, FL.

I had some fun with this post the other day (and hope you did too), but just for clarification: I see value in what each of these men, and others like them, are doing. I don’t know that one model is necessarily better than the other. They have the same core goal in mind (to help people know Jesus); they’re simply different. 

I do, however, know that one model will resonate more or less with different people. In other words, the megachurch model will work splendidly for some, while the simple church model will work splendidly for others.

Rather than polarize the reading audience here by advocating one over the other (there are pros and cons with both), are there any creatives out there that can think of ways we could weave these models together?

Please take some time to read the article and do a bit of thinking out loud in the form of a comment.

How could a new church plant utilize concepts or methods from each model – simple church and megachurch – to carry out the mission of God in their community?

Posted by: Nick Gill | November 17, 2008

The Mission of God on the Road to Gaza

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
(Acts 8:26-35 ESV)

“The world must know, beyond all contradiction or confusion, the identity of the living God.” – (Wright, ‘The Mission of God’ p.102) Christopher Wright proposes that the mission of God to be known drives the whole narrative of Scripture. How does that mission, the purpose of God to be known as the unique and universal sovereign creator and lover, handle this passage from Acts?

This is one of our favorite brotherhood texts, because we believe that it clearly displays the appropriate response – IDEAL – the appropriate timing  – IMMEDIATE – and mode of baptism – IMMERSION. I mean, you can’t go down into a pitcher, right? Yes, I am caricaturing our traditional response to Philip and the Ethiopian treasurer (no, I’m not going to identify the poor guy by his missing parts! I think after 2000 years, he’s probably really sick of being called that! He’s the treasurer for the queen of the most noble nation in Africa! Let’s show some respect, hey?). I know many of our ministers have treated this passage wth respect. But I was thinking about it after worship today, and there are some key missional ideas that Luke shows us.

Evangelism is our co-mission… it is GOD’s mission, and he is always ahead of us working. The Holy Spirit is DRIVING everything that happens in this story! Luke also shows us a deep commonality between the student and the teacher. Look again above and look for the following ideas:

1) Both are GOERS. Once someone is grasped by the gospel of God, they will move! We don’t have to make it happen, and we won’t be able to control it. They’re not going to go where we want them to go, but where Scripture and Spirit carry them.

2) Both are LISTENERS. The treasurer would never have been on the road unless he listened to the Word of God. Philip would never have met the treasurer if he did not listen to the Spirit of God. But even more important, Philip and the treasurer would never have shared this moment if Philip had not begun their relationship by LISTENING. Imagine if Philip had chased down the treasurer’s chariot and just started his schpiel, without showing any interest or concern for who this man is. How far would this have gone, do you think?

3) Both are QUESTIONERS. Philip does not begin their conversation with a lecture, but with a question. This shows great respect for the lives and real concerns of the people around us. Our assumptions and judgments crush the people around us, and we try to choke them (good-heartedly, of course) with the pearls of our Bible knowledge. Little surprise, then, when they turn and bite us. The treasurer, too, takes a chance and asks Philip the question that Scripture has sparked in his mind. At some point, if we are living missionally, people around us will have questions like this. Maybe not scholarly questions about Isaiah 53, but questions about theology and mission and identity. Unless they trust us, they will save their questions and get their answers from the cracked cisterns of pantheism, self-help, and televangelists.

Which brings me to the most missional statement of the passage: “Beginning with this scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus.” Listen: the good of the whole creation requires that God be known and praised as Creator. As the centerpiece of his self-revelatory mission, God is now to be “known to all humanity through the unique humanity and self-offering of Jesus the Messiah” (Wright, 125).

It is not our mission. It is not our story. We who have been caught up in the grasp of the great and eternal God, who owe our eternal lives to his compassion and mission, must tell – with our words, our hearts, our lives – the story we’ve been caught up in. Changing the story – telling about ourselves, telling about all the things that we try and tell people INSTEAD OF just telling them about Jesus – makes our gospel anathema. NO gospel at all.

The mission of God is wrapped up in the identity and mission of Jesus of Nazareth. Philip and Candace’s treasurer pledge their allegiance to that mission and spend their lives in HIS service. Let’s remember that between us and our neighbors is a great deal more commonality than difference. The God who loves us, loves them. Our commission is to show them that love. Let’s get to work!

in HIS love,

Posted by: michaelhanegan | November 17, 2008

Life in the Jesus Way…

I have struggled for some time now with the problem that comes from using terms that while they may express biblically and theologically sound principles automatically become suspect or heretical because of the new and/or unfamiliar vocabulary.

This has certainly been my struggle with the missional conversation. It has begun to take on its own vocabulary:

  • Missio Dei
  • Contextualization
  • Context(s)
  • Liminality
  • Incarnational
  • I’m sure there are at least another 25+ words out there.

My point is this: If the missional life is really the Christian life that has been able to correct some of the “reductionisms” of the Gospel that have resulted from thr Christendom project (did you catch the two special “missional words” in that sentence?!?) then why does it need to be couched in language that causes it to become suspect or ignored?

It is because of this struggle that I want to begin writing and creating a resource and materials under the title…

Life in the Jesus Way

So, if you were to teach a series, write a book, or create some type of resource to help people fulfill their missional identity without ever using the word missional or the other language that is associated with the conversation what would you say?

Here are a couple of initial thoughts as to how I might organize such a resource. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Life in the Jesus Way in the Life of Jesus

“…this is why I was sent…” (Understanding the Mission of Jesus)
“…you have heard that it was said, but I say to you…” (The Upside Down Kingdom)
Savior (What is salvation according to the life and teachings of Jesus?)
Servant (The first will be last, and the last will be first.)
Lord (The “Creed” of the Early Church…how this reality shapes all of life)

Life in the Jesus Way in the Life of the People of God (a.k.a. the Church)

The Greatest Commands (as Scot McKnight calls it, The Jesus Creed)
The Mission of the People of God (“…you will be my witnesses…”)
The Witness of the People of God (What is the message we are proclaiming?)
The Fruits of the Spirit
The Body
Our Ongoing Death, Burial, and Resurrection (Romans and “Sanctification”)


These topics are not necessarily in order of importance or organization. What else needs to be included? What approach would you take to creating such a resource? Is it even needed?

Posted by: WesWoodell | November 15, 2008

No Church Building – Pros and Cons From a Simple Church Planter

Phil McCollum – a Los Angeles based simple church planter (or as I like to call men like him – a “little ‘a’ apostle”) – left a very thoughtful comment in response to the questions posed in my last post on this blog (read more of Phil’s writings over at

My questions were as follows:

1) Since they’re not going away, what are some suggestions for how church buildings/property can be used missionally?

2) What would Christianity look like if church buildings didn’t exist?

Here’s Phil’s response:


Wes, I like your two questions. For now I’ll let churches with buildings think through the answer to #1. I like the ideas presented so far, though.

Answer #2 is similar to another question someone recently asked me: “What if churches weren’t exempt from paying taxes to the government and therefore had less financial resources available to them?” I’m not sure how big of a financial hit U.S. churches would feel from this, but the point my friend was trying to make was this. If churches had far fewer dollars available to them it might actually be a good thing! Meaning, if we didn’t have enough money to maintain and renovate our buildings, employ our pastors, and keep all our church programs running, it might motivate some of us to live differently as Christians. No longer would we be able to count on ministry staff to spiritually feed us, on large worship events to define us, and on big programs to spread the gospel and meet felt-needs in the community. Those needs would have to be met without staff and buildings and the leaders who run the programs. They’d have to be met by every Jesus-follower living missional lives in their own communities. The point, we often to refer to our buildings and resources as a “blessing” from God, but they sometimes distract us from fulfilling our role as Jesus-folllowers.

For two years we’ve been church planting in LA without buildings and paid preachers. There are pros and cons to this approach but in our case the pros far outweigh the cons.

Downsides to not having a building include: It’s a foreign concept in the U.S. to have a church without a building. Even “unbelievers” come to the table with preconceived ideas of what a church is. You learn to be patient and retell your vision over and over. In some cases it has been too foreign for religious folks to accept. Other pastors and already-Christians have the hardest time with this. It’s difficult for them to accept us as a legitimate group or take us seriously. They raise an eyebrow to us and continue to ask us to pray that God will help their groups to find a bigger or less costly venue for their worship services. They also complain how tired they are from keeping all the programs running. Naturally, our top priority prayer requests are different, and there is a disconnect.

Upsides to not having a building include: It has freed us to be more adaptable to people’s changing needs – home churches can change venues and times as needed and still be church. It has allowed us to be a church on the move and ‘take church to the people’ (kingdom lifestyle not fortress lifestyle) because we are not tied to the concept of getting everyone to come to us. It has helped new and veteran Christians to see more clearly (from our practice not just our lip service) that church really is a people not a place or event. Not having a building with an office has forced us to SHOW the community we are a legitimate church by our actions and lifestyle rather than by pointing to an address. (In John 13:34-35 Jesus said the world will know we are his disciples by loving one another the way he loved us… not by our ability to rent/purchase buildings, pay a preacher, and start a myriad of programs.)

More upsides: Not having a static place to meet each week has forced us to blur the lines between the sacred and the secular in a good way – now we realize God wants every moment and place to BECOME sacred. We get to live out more fully the Romans 12 teaching that worship is a sacrificial way of life not an event on Sunday. Without the overhead costs it has freed us to pour the majority of our offerings into foreign and domestic missions and serving the poor and have more on hand to give directly to people as needs arise. In the U.S. we find people who are turned off to traditional churches and religion are often more open to pursuing God in the context of a home, park, coffee shop or other everyday place.

The biggest benefit though is that it is easier for a new church (community of Jesus-followers) to see themselves reproducing more churches if they don’t have to rent/purchase and manage a building (or provide for the living expenses of a preacher and his family) to do it. We unnecessarily burden new Christians and hinder the spread of the gospel when we imply or flat out tell people they can’t be a real church or start a new church without a building or paid pastor. For me, it’s not about it’s not about whether or not to have buildings or paid pastors. It’s about what’s indefinitely reproducible for the spread of the gospel?

And it’s also about who gets to make those decisions like “Will we get a building?” I say that is better when we leave it up to the new believers themselves to make those calls. Why impose our culture or preferred ways of doing church onto people when planting the gospel? Let’s just plant the seed and allow the Spirit to grow it up however he wants – with or without a building, with or without paid staff, etc. When we plant the gospel and help Bible study groups to transition into home churches, we’re not trying to prove the viability of a house church model. Neither are we trying to disprove the viability of a brick-and-mortar church. We go into it acknowledging that some of the home-based, laity-led churches we help new believers to start will remain home-based and laity-led. Other churches will decide they want to get a building and become “big church.” Similarly, some will decide they want to compensate one of their own to be a paid pastor. Some of the new churches may morph into a variety of different models as time goes by and their situations change.

We plant the seed (gospel) not buildings. As the seed grows it may involve buildings sometime in the future or it may not. Our job as missionaries in Los Angeles is to make disciples and teach them to obey all the commands of Christ. We teach obedience-based discipleship that sees disciples reproducing disciples, leaders reproducing leaders, and churches reproducing churches. We don’t tell them how to put church together in their culture. Rather, we teach them that the Word of God is the teacher and train them to discern from God’s Word and the guidance from the Holy Spirit how their obedience gets expressed in their context. This means church gets put together differently in different cultures and at different times, but obedience remains the same.

While part of me is tempted to imagine a world where all churches have no buildings, I’d rather imagine a church where we are committed to planting the seed alone. Let’s preach Jesus, not Jesus + __________ (fill in the blank with our preferred ways of doing church). Let’s train people in obedience-based discipleship to Jesus Christ and let them figure out for themselves if their obedience would be better expressed right now with or without a building, paid staff, or tiny communion cups, or this or that worship style. We can work with the indigenous leaders of the new churches and serve as a guide to them in the process. But let’s not shortchange them by making those decisions for them.

Good questions, Wes. Let’s keep imagining in Jesus’ name!


Now that’s worth reading right there.

Phil – thank you very much for your thoughtful response. I have a deep respect for what you’re doing and the motives driving your methodology. Bless you, brother!

Anyway, I’m feeling a bit cheeky, so I’ll leave you with this:

I dare you to show that at your next building committee meeting … Ha!

Posted by: dvdbrumley | November 14, 2008

“You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

     Without a doubt, one of the all time most memorable lines from cinema in the past twenty years came from Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men.”  When pressed in a court martial hearing about the practices of the military Jack Nicholson’s character bellows out “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!”  He was referring to the fact that while all of us want to feel that we are safe in this world because our military protects us, this security comes with a price.  Sometimes things have to be done that many of us don’t want to know about and would not want to get our “hands dirty” doing.  It is a thankless job that is done not for gratitude but for purpose.

     In Luke 17, our loving Jesus reminds us that we as Christians have a duty to serve Him and His purpose in our lives. We don’t do this job to receive gratitude from Him, our Master, but for purpose.  In verses 7-10 Jesus explains that our life is one to be spent in service (WORK) for Him.  Jesus reminds us that this is a thankless work in verse 9 and that we are foolish if we expect payment from Him prior to His needs being met.  Even then, we are not worthy of payment because we are simply doing our duty.

     This sounds so different than the prosperity gospel that is so prevalent today.  Today, and I fear even in the Church of Christ, people are being taught that they simply need to be baptized, come to church, and quit their bad habits and that Jesus will pour His blessing upon them.  I call foul!  This teaching is not in line with Christ’s teachings.  Christ is using the parable in Luke 17 to forewarn us that if we expect to meet Him, it’s time to get to work.  Our mission is one of duty, not namesake.  If we want to be member’s of Christ’s kingdom, it is time to get to work.

     So, the question then arises over why are we not teaching this from our pulpit’s, mission fields, Christian publications, and Sunday School classes?  I fear that the answer is that like Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” we are telling believers and non-believers alike that “You can’t handle the truth.”  Are we afraid that if we really tell people what is required of them after baptism that our numbers might drop?  Is our faith in Jesus really so weak that we believe we have to withhold the actual truth about the narrow gate in order to get people to accept Him?  Have we allowed the gospel to become so sugar-coated with political correctness that our churches are now full of members who will walk out should we tell them they are not doing enough to advance Christ’s mission for us?  Where are the men and women who will stand up in love and honor and tell our brothers and sisters we see slipping away from the field of duty that they are hindering Christ’s return?  All of us are unworthy but none of us have a right to ignore our mission.  

     Imagine with me:  You are standing at the throne of our loving and most powerful God on Judgment Day.  God then inquires from you about not only the community around you and those who are lost but those of your home congregation.  God may ask “Why did you not tell Jack and Jill that you thought they could do more to help in spreading the gospel?  Why did you not tell them they were disgracing the cross by thinking they had done enough for Christ’s kingdom?  Why did you not sew these people I put at your feet?”  How will God respond when you answer “I didn’t think they could handle the truth?”

Posted by: WesWoodell | November 13, 2008

I hate church buildings, and I don’t believe I’m alone

My wife and I drove into the church parking lot last night before Wednesday evening services. After pulling into a spot and throwing the transmission into park, I became lost in thought staring at the moon through my front windshield. My wife noticed that I’d zoned out and asked me what I was thinking about.

“Never setting foot inside another church building – ever,” I said.

And I was serious too.

Please read the rest of what I have to say gracefully. I am just one man with one opinion. I don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself, but don’t believe I’m alone in feeling the way I feel (quick sidenote: a pet peeve of mine is preachers and teachers who say “we” this and “we” that in describing some sin, spiritual shortcoming, or organizational error when very often their “we” should be their own “me.” Speak for yourself, buddy! Moving on …).

I still consider myself quite green in many areas of life. I’m only in my late twenties, have only been in ministry for half a decade, only been married for a few years, and my two kids are both under two years of age. I have no problem saying that there’s much in the world that I’ve yet to understand and much future experience will teach, but one thing I have come to understand in my limited experience is the redemption Jesus brings into the world, and the joy that comes with not only having it myself, but in sharing it with others – that “it” that’s embodied and manifested in Him.

Before giving my life to Christ I’d done nearly every kind of drug known to man, and I can honestly say that nothing – nothing – compares to the high I get in seeing someone who was lost, jaded, hopeless, and dead in sin to come to know Jesus and experience that total transformation from the root of their soul out. Nothing compares to that, and if too much time passes without my having witnessed another soul saved, I’m like an addict going through withdrawals – like there’s this itch that I just can’t seem to scratch, and the only relief I get comes from pouring myself into another person who doesn’t know my Savior.

Ok, so maybe that sounds a bit over the top, but its the best way I can describe how I’m feeling right now, and the best way I can describe how I was feeling last night when I made that statement to my wife.

I get excited when I read stories like this, and in a world where this can happen, you shouldn’t be surprised at hearing a full time minister and missionary saying he never wants to set foot inside another church building.

I’m so tired of the status quo and spectator Christianity, and I’m tired of being part of a system that, despite claims to the contrary, is strictly event focused. I’m tired of church buildings and what they’ve come to represent, and I don’t believe I’m the only one who feels this way.

I don’t believe I’m the only one dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction breeds revolution.

Anyone else reading feel like I do?

Despite my feelings or your feelings, I don’t think for a moment that church buildings are going to go away. In fact, my employer guarantees it (pfffttt :p).

Two questions:

1) Since they’re not going away, what are some suggestions for how church buildings/property can be used missionally?

2) What would Christianity look like if church buildings didn’t exist?

Please respond to #1 in a comment, and, if nothing else, take some time to reflect on #2.

Thanks for letting me vent :p

Posted by: Nick Gill | November 12, 2008

Simply Missional – Review with Commentary

Jay Guin, an elder with the University congregation in Tuscaloosa, AL, writes at an amazing pace. His website, One in Jesus, is well worth your interest if you’ve never been there before. Right now, he’s reviewing and commenting on “Simply Missional” – an article by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger in Neue Magazine. Check it out!

in HIS love,


Posted by: michaelhanegan | November 10, 2008

New Missional Network…

James Nored, preaching minister at the North Pointe Church of Christ has created a new network for people in the missional conversation. It is incredibly functional and will be a great addition to this conversation in Churches of Christ.

Check it out at

Posted by: mattdabbs | November 5, 2008

One of the Best Lists of Missional Links on the Web

J.R. Woodward has compiled what is undoubtedly one of the best lists of missional links on the web. I am not sure how many links he has there but it is well over 100 and it consists of very high quality blog posts, articles, and videos. This might be something to link to on the sidebar of the Outpost or somewhere permanent on the blog.

Posted by: dvdbrumley | November 4, 2008

An Election Day Prayer

Dear God,
You are so wonderful. You have filled my life with happiness and joy even though I do not deserve it. You have blessed even though I have made choices in the past that were worthy of your punishment. I am unequipped to fathom the depths of your love, knowledge, and power. You have shaped the world around me to be one in which I can glorify you and have given me the wisdom to know that I must. You are amazing.
I come before you today as a sinner who falls short in so many areas each day. Specifically today I confess the sin of not trusting in you totally. God I have allowed myself to be caught up in the political fervor of our age and of not allowing my faith in you to shine through when discussing the election. Father, when trying to inform people of the facts in this election I have failed to remind people, including myself, that a true faith in you should prevent any fear or concern over what will come on this earth. I have allowed my unfaithfulness to be covered behind the guise of fear for my children’s future and I have not taken the time to explain to my children that no matter what happens, it is Your great and Holy will. I have failed to take the opportunity to share my faith in You during each individual conversation I have had regarding this election and I have not reminded my fellow Christian brothers and sisters that no matter who is elected we are commanded by You to respect and follow that man or woman. Please forgive me Father.
Holy God, thank you for allowing me to live in a country where I can pray these words with no fear of state repercussions. Thank you for blessing my life with a wife and children who not only help me to love You but who I can see You in. Thank you for giving me this much time on this Earth and for making Yourself known to me and giving me a mission. Thank you for Your Holy word and the knowledge and comfort that is provided within the Bible. Thank you for giving me a church family that listens to Your will and that strives to make Your presence known on this Earth. Thank you for making me part of the kingdom. Thank you for the blood of Your Son and for it’s ability to not only restore me but all who are willing to come to You with a humble heart.
Father, I ask You today to please bring me closer to Your will. Give me the peace to know that no matter what happens in the election of today that Your will is shining through and let me know Your continued will for me as an individual in this nation. Father, please help me to remember that my citizenship is not in this town, state, country, or world. Please help me to remember. Please help me to serve. Please help me to remain respectful of my country’s leaders and to allow Jesus Christ to shine through my attitudes and words used when discussing such. Father, please allow my family to continue to grow in Your grace. Father, help me to love you, make me a servant, and use me up for your purposes.

In Jesus’ holy and pure name

Posted by: michaelhanegan | November 2, 2008

New Series: Missional Text(s)

In this new series we want you to submit and discuss passages from Scripture that have missional implications for the church today. This is not to deny the fact that the very nature of Scripture is God’s missional communication to his creation, but there are texts throughout God’s Word that speak directly to our missional identity as the people of God.

As you come across a text that speaks to us in this way share it here in the comments or submit a post for this series. I look forward to learning more about God’s Word and more specifically how it is shaping our missional calling and vocation as the people of God.

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 31, 2008

Initial Model of a Missional Hermeneutic

The following is my (very) initial understanding of what a missional hermeneutic might look like. I am curious to get your feedback and reflections. There have been a number of books and people who have influenced my current understanding of a missional heremenuetic. There is probably no bigger influence than Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. So here is my current (working) model of a missional hermeneutic. If you have comments but don’t want to leave them here you can email me at


Here is how this hermeneutic works…

(1) Missio Dei (What is God’s Mission and what is our place in it?)
This is the Christocentric (in as much as it allows a Trinitarian understanding) starting place for our hermeneutic. Here we take our understanding of and experience in the Missio Dei (a.k.a. The Mission of God) as the “lenses” through which we come to understand and act upon the text(s) we approach. The goal of this starting place is to avoid a mere transfer of information (enlightment/modernism) or mere speculation and discussion (postmodern) of the text to a place of both orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy (missional).

(2) Text(s) (How did the text(s) shape the missional identity of the original recipients?)
This is where the hermeneutic “begins.” Step 1 really acts as the pre-existing foundation/worldview/hermeneutic. Here the exegetical process occurs, but does so with the intention of reframing the “context” of that exegesis in the meta-narrative context of the Missio Dei. The question here is “How did this text shape the missional identity of the original recipients?” This question serves as the guide back through the Missio Dei.  

(3) Missio Dei (How does the Missio Dei inform our exegesis and application?)
This part of the process acts as a “turning point” in which we transition from a discussion and exploration of how the text(s) shaped the original recipients to an explanation of the implications that remain true for us today. We draw these conclusions (the result of our understanding of the Missio Dei and information drawn through the exegetical process) and then prepare to re-examine the text(s) informed by the process thus far on behalf of our community and our context. We cannot divorce ourselves from the exegetical process for a purely “discerning” hermeneutic. God works in history and that context must be appreciated in our understanding of Scripture.

(4) Text(s) (How do the text(s) shape our missional identity?)
Here we bring together our conclusions from the exegetical process and our understanding of how the text(s) shaped the missional identity of the original recipients to bear on the concepts and principles of the Missio Dei that shape our missional identity in our context. Our re-examination of Scripture at this juncture therefore acts as a safeguard preventing an interpretation or application that is divorced from solid exegesis and our grasp of the Missio Dei.

(DISCLAIMER: The later part of this hermeneutic is much more fluid than I have figured out how to communicate thus far. It is not intended to be a rigid formula.)

(5) Missiology (What are the missiological implications of our observations so far?)
Here we explore what steps 1-4 mean for our context. More specifically would be a discussion of how to communicate these things in a way that leads to the continuing conversion of the church and a faithful witness to unbelievers. This step shapes the community and simultaneously transfers into the next phase.

(6) Theology/Ecclesiology (How does all this shape us as a missionary community?)
Here we aim to make our community and our individual lives consistent with our witness. Orthodoxy,  orthopraxy, and orthopathy together is the goal here. This spiritual formation is corporate first (we usually don’t do it this way), and then also shapes individuals.

(7) Missional/Incarnational Application (What does it “look like” in our context?)
This is where orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy happen. This should be the tangible, measurable aspect of this hermeneutic. This is the place where we “plug-in” in a new and greater way into the Missio Dei.

(8) Missio Dei 
The result of this process is a greater understanding of and fuller participation in the Missio Dei as God’s missionary community (a.k.a. the Church).


What’s missing? Suggestions? Comments? Critiques?

What will it take for our churches to develop a missional hermeneutic?

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 31, 2008

What is Contextual? What is Universal?

Often times in the missional conversation we talk about doing things contextually. One writer suggests that the gospel is like a seed and the beauty of the gospel is that it can be planted in any culture and grow into something that is appropriate for that context.

The question is this:

What is contextual in a missional church? Why?

What are the non-negotiable things that are universal to all communities of faith regardless of context?

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 29, 2008

A Preview of Alan Hirsch’s New Book “reJesus”

Alan Hirsch has posted the intro and first chapter of his forthcoming book reJesus on his website. You can download them below.

rejesus-intro and rejesus-ch 1

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 28, 2008

Total Church Conference Resources

All the audio from this conference is available online. Thanks to Timmy Brister for the links.

You can also subscribe to the Total Church podcast on iTunes (48 MP3s).

A Community-centered Gospel – Steve Timmis
The gospel is about a King who died to rescue a people who would reveal his character by their shared lives. In keeping with who I am ‘in Adam’, I individualize and privatize the gospel so that church is reduced to a necessary but often intrusive addendum. The gospel calls us to live ‘in Christ’ corporately and so show the power of the cross to reconcile and create community. (A Community-Centered Gospel Q&A)

A Gospel-centered Community – Steve Timmis
The gospel is that which creates, sustains, nurtures and perfects the church. To achieve this, the gospel needs to be at the center of all we are and do as the people of God. The gospel needs to be taken out of our pulpits and meetings and applied into the mundane and routine of our corporate and personal lives. (A Gospel-Centered Community Q&A)

Rethinking Attractional Church – Tim Chester
Attractional church (‘come to us’) and missional church (‘go to them’) are often set up as alternatives, yet throughout the Scriptures God calls his people to a life that attracts the nations. We can bring attractional and missional approaches together by re-conceiving church as a community rather than an event. (Rethinking Q&A Session)

Remodeling Attractional Church – Steve Timmis
As we focus more on the quality of our lives together rather than the slick performance of our Sunday meetings we will see how a gospel community is an integral and indispensable piece of the evangelism jigsaw. In fact, people won’t be able to fully understand the magnitude of what God has done in Christ without it. (Remodeling Q&A Session)

Making Disciples for Missional Church – Tim Chester
‘I’m free and belong to no man’ could be the slogan of our age. But Paul continues: ‘I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.’ What kind of people are going to sustain a church planting movement? This session explores how the cross and resurrection should shape our lives. (Making Disciples Q&A)

Making Disciples in Missional Church – Tim Chester
This session looks at how we train and pastor one another in the context of ordinary life and the context of Christian community.

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 28, 2008

Christopher Wright on a Missional Hermeneutic

A missional hermeneutic, then, is not content simply to call for obedience to the Great Commission (though it will assuredly include that as a matter of nonnegotiable importance), nor even to reflect on the missional implications of the Great Commandment. For behind both it will find the Great Communication—the revelation of the identity of God, of God’s action in the world and God’s saving purpose for all creation. And for the fullness of the communication we need the whole Bible in all its parts and genres, for God has given us no less. A missional hermeneutic takes the indicative and the imperative of the biblical revelation with equal seriousness, and interprets each in the light of the other. …

A missional hermeneutic, then, cannot read biblical indicatives without their implied imperatives. Nor can it isolate biblical imperatives from the totality of the biblical indicative. It seeks a holistic understanding of mission from a holistic reading of the biblical texts. (pgs. 60-61)

The Biblical Theocentric Worldview and the Mission of God

The appropriateness of speaking of “a missional basis of the Bible” becomes apparent only when we shift our paradigm of mission from

·         our human agency to the ultimate purposes of God

·         mission as “missions” that we undertake, to mission as that which God has been purposing and accomplishing from eternity to eternity

·         an anthropocentric (or ecclesiocentric) conception to a radically theocentric worldview

Mission is not ours; mission is God’s. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that god has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission—God’s mission.

A mission of hermeneutic of the Bible, then, begins there—with the mission of God—and traces the flow of all other dimensions of mission as they affect human history from that center and starting point. (pg. 62)

God with a mission

…mission is grounded in an intratrinitarian movement of God himself and that it expresses the power of God over history, to which the only appropriate response is obedience. … All human mission, in this perspective, is seen as a participation in and extension of this divine sending.

The Bible presents itself to us fundamentally as a narrative, a historical narrative at one level, but a grand metanarrative at another.

·         It begins with the god of purpose in creation

·         moves on to the conflict and problem generated by human rebellion against that purpose

·         spends most of its narrative journey in the story of God’s redemptive purposes being worked out on the stage of human history

·         finishes beyond the horizon of its own history with the eschatological hope of a new creation

To read the whole Bible in the light of this great overarching perspective of the mission of God, then, is to read with the grain of this whole collection of texts that constitute our canon of Scripture. In my view this is the key assumption of a missional hermeneutic of the Bible. It is nothing more than to accept the biblical worldview locates us in the midst of a narrative of the universe behind which stands the mission of the living God. (pgs. 63-64)

Humanity with a mission

To be human is to have a purposeful role in God’s creation. (pg. 65)

Israel with a mission

Israel came into existence as a people with a mission entrusted to them from God for the sake of God’s wider purpose or blessing the nations. (pg. 65)

Jesus with a mission

The mission of the Servant was both to restore Israel to YHWH and also to be the agent of God’s salvation reaching to the ends of the earth (Is. 49:6). …

God’s mission determined [Jesus’] mission. In Jesus the radically theocentric nature of biblical mission is most clearly focused and modeled. In the obedience of Jesus, even to death, the mission of God reached its climax. For “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19). (pg. 66)

The church with a mission

As Luke 24:45-47 indicates, Jesus entrusted to the church a mission that is directly rooted in his own identity, passion and victory as the crucified and risen Messiah. (pg. 66)

The church’s mission flows from the identity of God and his Christ. (pg. 66)

Mission, then, in biblical terms, while it inescapably involves us in planning and action, is not primarily a matter of our activity or our initiative. Mission, from the point of view of our human endeavor, means the committed participation of God’s people in the purposes of God for the redemption of the whole creation. The mission is God’s. The marvel is that God invites us to join him.

Mission arises from the heart of God himself and is communicated from his heart to ours. Mission is the global outreach of the global people of a global God.

Putting these perspectives together, a missional hermeneutic means that we seek to read any part of the Bible in the light of

·         God’s purpose for his whole creation, including the redemption of humanity and the creation of the new heavens and new earth

·         God’s purpose for human life in general on the planet and of all the Bible teaches about human culture, relationships, ethics and behavior

·         God’s historical election of Israel, their identity and role in relation to the nations, and the demands he made on their worship, social ethics, and total value system

·         the centrality of Jesus of Nazareth, his messianic identity and mission in relation to Israel and the nations, his cross and resurrection

·         God’s calling of the church, the community of believing Jews and Gentiles who constitute the extended people of the Abraham covenant, to be the agent of God’s blessing to the nations in the name and for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 26, 2008

Karl Barth on the Sent Church

As His community [the church] points beyond itself. At bottom it can never consider its own security, let alone its appearance. As His community it is always free from itself . . . . Its mission is not additional to its being. It is, as it is sent and active in its mission. It builds up itself for the sake of its mission and in relation to it.

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1

Thanks to Brad Brisco for the great quote and photo.

The more I hear and read from Barth the more I think that his Church Dogmatics will hold some serious gems for the missional conversation.

Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 25, 2008

Insights from Culture Making by Andy Crouch…

In the book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch the relationship of Christianity and the church to the culture (Crouch by the way is critical of generalizations like “the culture” throughout this book). I am only about 1/3 of the way into the book but already have garnered some gems worth sharing.

Crouch gives five questions for “diagnosing culture”. Crouch is unwilling to allow “the culture” to be made only of abstract concepts and opinions. (He will make a distinction between worldview and culture as well.) He narrows his definition by making us examine “cultural artifacts” or tangible things that are created becuase of, through, and in response to the already established culture. The five questions are as follows:

  1. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world is?
  2. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world should be?
  3. What does this cultural artifact make possible?
  4. What does this cultural artifact made impossible (or at least very difficult)?
  5. What new forms of culture are created in response to this artifact?

In the following chapters of the opening section here are some of the statements that are made:

The only way to change culture is create more of it. (pg. 67)

Culture is what we make of the world–we start not with a blank slate but with all the richly encultured world that previous generations have handed to us. …

The more each of us knows about our cultural domain, the more likely we are to create something new and worthwhile. …

We cannot make culture without culture. And this means that creation begins with cultivation–taking care of the good things that culture has already handed to us. The first responsibility of culture makers is not to make something new but to become fluent in the cultural tradition to which we are responsible. Before we can be culture makers, we must be culture keepers. …

We can only create where we have learned to cultivate. ….

So underneath almost every act of culture making we find countless small acts of culture keeping. … Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity. … then they will be prepared to both conserve culture at its best and change it for the better by offering the world something new. (pgs. 73-77)

Is Crouch onto something here? (I would say so.)

In that case, what does it mean for the missional church to create new culture from in the midst of an existing culture? In what way does the church live within culture, create new culture from within their cultural context and still remain faithful to the gospel and their identity as the missionary people of God?

I’m hoping Crouch will give us some answers to questions like these. More on this as the book continues. In the mean time, make it a point to pick this book up. This will be an important title for a missional church that wishes to do more than critique or copy its culture but instead to improve it through being the instrument of God’s reconciliation in all things.

Posted by: rogueminister | October 25, 2008

Unity and Mission

I am a member of the Churches of Christ. I have been for many years now. I went to Harding and Lipscomb. I worked as both a youth minister and a preacher in the Church of Christ. I currently attend the Southside Church of Christ in Lexington, KY. I have been attending and working for a Church of Christ bible camp for eleven years. The point is that I have been part this fellowship for about half of my short life and I am thankful for this upbringing and heritage. I am grateful for the great men and women of God who have showed me Jesus with their lives. I am indebted for the great teaching and preaching that has shaped my thinking. I am obliged to the many friends that have made in our fellowship over the years, especially those whom I met at Carolina Bible Camp.

Now I must confess that I have wanted to leave the fellowship of the Churches of Christ on several occasions, or maybe better put, there was a few year period where I was determined to leave or at least take a long hiatus from the Church of Christ brotherhood. Why would I want to do that if I have so many things to be thankful for in my history in this alliance?

It boils down to two things. One I believe in Church unity. Two I believe in regular intentional outreach. I wasn’t finding either of these things. Instead I was finding a body part that was cut off from the rest of the body and congregations that were living by a motto of  “come to us.” Now if you think I am only going to blast the Church then keep reading and you’ll find out that is hardly my intent.

I have long longed for loving and edifying church unity among all of those who claim Christ as Lord and God. It was, and I emphasize was, my experience that our fellowship was one of the primary reasons that unity wasn’t being realized.

I am currently going to a Wesleyan/Methodist seminary. Two things have been confirmed for me in my short time here. First, I disagree with a lot of things that are being taught. Second and more importantly though, I am spending time with people who truly are filled with God’s Spirit and dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Christ in love.

I tell you these things to get to this: things are changing. Before my wife and I spent a year in China, we were attending a Church of Christ in the Nashville area. This church was leading the way in the community for unity and outreach. They were praying for other congregations in the area as these groups had needs. They were teaming with other churches for worship and outreach. They were determined to be open to God’s spirit leading as they moved to being more like the body of Christ that we are all called to be.

I heard a story about an interdenominational conference; I believe it was Promise Keepers. One of the speakers was a well-known Church of Christ preacher and he spoke on church unity. Two pastors from a charismatic denomination were talking directly after the sermon and one said to the other with a chuckle, “leave it to God to use a Church of Christ preacher to bring a message about unity.” Again, things are changing.

If we are ever going to be a truly effective and authentic missional church I think we are going to have to be unified with all brothers and sisters who live under the Lordship of King Jesus. It matters little if we agree on each doctrinal issue that will inevitably come up. It matters significantly if we come together in the name of our Crucified and Risen King and collectively take up our Crosses to follow his lead, boldly declaring the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. We do this, trusting the world will indeed see us and know that we are all Christians by the way we love one another.

If we want to be missional it seems to me that we must first be unified. Things are changing. Do you want to take part? If so, then what does that look like? How do we strive for unity in diversity? What issues might come up?


– Justin aka RogueMinister

Posted by: Tim Spivey | October 24, 2008

Missional Profile – At the Cross, Mesquite, TX

One of the great blessings of my recent years in ministry has been getting to know and participate in serving with At the Cross in Mesquite, Texas.  Their ministry as an illustration of what can happen when Christians really view themselves as a sent people. They are celebrating the 1-year anniversary of their founding. Click here for a video profile of this outstanding, missional church.

Posted by: Nick Gill | October 24, 2008

Hospitality and the Mission of God

I’d like to borrow a question from a great believer of the earliest days of the Jesus movement and ask, “What hinders us from becoming missional?” What lies at the heart of our need for transformation in this post-Christian, post-modern, post-denominational world? Might I suggest something as simple and as radical as hospitality? I love the potential for renewal that Almighty God offers us through the missional conversation. I can see many ways that the missional conversation and the restoration plea can work together within our religious tribe, encouraging the Holy Spirit to burst forth in our communities with beautiful expressions of new life.

So what is hindering us? Walls. High, thick walls we’ve built for ourselves. Walls of tradition. Walls of hermeneutics. Walls behind which we gather and worship, and over which we lob tracts at a world that no longer notices or remembers us.

We live in a scary world, where so many facets of life are clearly beyond our control. Economies careen madly in the wake of demonic greed. The unborn are sacrificed at the altar of the American Dream. Radical Islam lurks in the shadows, so we can’t take nail clippers or shaving cream on an airplane anymore.

In such a world, we crave security, and many of us will accept it wherever we can find it. People huddle together in cloistered communities – in bars, tattoo parlors, Starbucks, political parties, social clubs, and churches. In a world where truth has moved on, and violence and manipulation are the ways of power, we find security in places and people that share our stories, and we avoid those who look and sound different. Security is precious to us, and walls promise security.

Hospitality as a Christian discipline takes the Emmaus Road narrative and the judgment story of Matthew 25 as paradigmatic for our daily lives. We welcome the stranger in the name of Christ, yes, but more than that, we welcome the stranger because he IS Christ to us. Hospitality is the active resistance of prejudice, suspicion, anxiety, and jealousy by the sharing of table, the embracing of strangers, and the protecting of people who travel life’s roads alone.

Hospitality is not just about sharing lives. It is about saving lives, and that puts it front and center in the mission of God. Behind our walls, we can only love our friends and relations. The Hebrew writer compels us to follow King Jesus outside the camp, to offer ourselves to the strangers around us without demanding anything from them.

I’m new to the missional conversation, brothers and sisters, but I hope I’m here to stay. I desperately want to move outside the camp with the heart of the Good Samaritan (from whose example we get the word hospital). I want to remember that everyone I meet, young and old, no matter how long I’ve known them, is a broken image of God whose only hope is for me to welcome them, offer them solace and safety, and embrace them into the mission of God.

in HIS love,


Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 24, 2008

Churches of Christ and the Missional Conversation…

In an earlier post I asked the question, “What do Churches of Christ have to give to the missional conversation?” Here is my initial response:

(1)    Congregational Autonomy
While this doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case sometimes (especially when a congregation sees its role in the Kingdom to bash critique a congregation on an issue upon which they disagree), the reality of congregational autonomy allows us to do a couple of things that are significant and either extremely difficult or impossible to do in a denominational structure:

a.       Selective Partnership and Collaboration. We are able to learn from, work with, and be aided by any congregation or group that we determine necessary.

b.      The Ability to Discern the Contextual Calling of our Context. While our fellowship may be well known for planting “carbon copies” of Southern rural churches throughout the world, our autonomy allows us to become a congregation that is truly “at home” in the culture without giving in to its distortions and reductions of the Gospel.

c.       Permission to Transition. As autonomous congregations we have to authority to determine when and how to embark on this journey. I have been reading a series of posts (I will try to find the link this week) of a pastor in a denomination (PCUSA if I’m not mistaken) who is struggling with how to become missional in his denomination. His struggle comes from the fact that official documents and structures prohibit transitions and actions that would in fact be very missional. In our fellowship we don’t need permission to transition. The truth is what we need is the courage and the resolve.

(2)    A Healthy View of Scripture

a.       Balance of Scripture vs. Tradition. Some of you are pulling your hair out when I say that we might have this even heading in the right direction. Here’s what I’m saying: In our history we have had the ability to do some things that really targeted and successfully reached our communities (e.g. bus ministry, World Bible School, Jewel Miller, etc.). Granted, in some of our churches (I won’t say many) we have gone from contextual and relevant to stagnant and stuck in a time warp. But that doesn’t deny the fact that at one time they were (for their context) fulfilling their place missionally. To me, this means that it might still be in our memory or our DNA. This is not something that will have to be taught for the first time but simply recovered our reactivated (which it already has been in a number of our congregations).

b.      A Strong Ecclesiology. On the major issues I would suggest that the Churches of Christ as a whole have a great foundation upon which to build. This is a topic that needs to be explored much more thoroughly (perhaps even at the scholarly level), but I believe that it is safe to say that there are some gifts that we would have for those who are re-examining what it means to be the people of God. Our desire to be “New Testament Christians” (as if there is another option??) and our willingness to really examine Scripture are attributes that will help us as we continue to make this journey.

How would you answer any of the following questions?

What gifts or blessings do we have to offer up as an example to other churches (especially those in denominations) as they also seek to find ways to make their identity increasingly missional?

Does our past as a movement have anything to offer to this journey today whether theologically or otherwise?

What particular challenges will we incur as a fellowship that may not be an issue inside a denominational structure?

What is the way forward into the missional frontier for Churches of Christ?

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