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Deployment

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : October 25, 2004

I found this brief article from Christianity Today to be interesting. It very briefly shows Brian McLaren’s take on sharing the Gospel in a postmodern age.

I very much enjoyed the following:

“Rather than measuring the church by its attendance, we will measure it by its deployment,” McLaren said. “One of the greatest enemies of evangelism is the church as fortress or social club; it sucks Christians out of their neighborhoods, clubs, workplaces, schools, and other social networks and isolates them in a religious ghetto. There it must entertain them (through various means, many of them masquerading as education) and hold them (through various means, many of them epitomized by the words guilt and fear). Thus Christians are warehoused as merchandise for heaven, kept safe in a protected space to prevent spillage, leakage, damage, or loss until their delivery.”

That is not only truthfully spoken, but artfully so. I have been wondering about how to “deploy” Missio Dei. It seems that people are not naturally oriented towards deployment. We are so used to being attenders and choosers that transitioning into being ministers and called-ones is difficult. I’ve noticed that parachurch organizations who are founded on the idea of mission, who later become a full-fledged church, are much more adept at avoiding the problems articulated above. They start by defining themselves as missional, and then form community around that. That is a much healthier stance than starting as an ingrown community that decides to start “doing” mission. The church has outsourced its mission for long enough. We need to deploy.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Deployment”

  1. Chris B. on October 26th, 2004 3:54 pm

    Just as a side note, though, there are a lot of para-church, missional organizations that have yet to acheive what I would call healthy Christian community. CCC, InterVarsity, other campus ministries in general don’t seem to have very good focus when it comes to community. What would you say are some good examples of para-church, missional organizations that have become thriving communities?

  2. Van S on October 27th, 2004 2:23 pm

    Good challenge, Chris. I should make it more clear that I am referring specifically to churches that are birthed out of missional, “parachurch” efforts. Groups like the ones you mentioned aren’t equipped to be “church” because, as you point out, lack healthy Christian community.

    There are few examples, since few parachurch groups ever intentionally transition into being a church. The Hard Core Bible Study in Minneapolis, various oversees mission efforts, and church plants in the past that have been birthed out of Navigator Groups and the like. I’m not saying that parachurches are doing church better, but I am saying that there is something to groups that start with mission and then intentionally build church around it, rather than groups that start church and hope to accomplish mission from it.

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