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The Tangible Kingdom

This is another book by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, I am in the process of reading that explores ways to do mission in our 'post everything context'.

Usually when leaders start to think about the call of missionality and to personal and corporate change they begin in the church parking lot asking questions like these:

Why is the church failing?  How should we do church? Should church be big or small?  Mega-church or house church? What types of changes can we make to our programs or our presentation on Sunday?  Should we build or buy a building?  How can we increase funding so we can continued at the level we are now?  What type of staff do we need?

We may also start with our own lives .....  "I would love to live out my faith like you speak of; I'd love to lead my congregation like you have, but ..."  Then comes a long list of personal, financial and practical reasons why they can't make the adjustment that will allow them to chart a new course for their faith.

Starting with any of these questions is the wrong place to start.  Pastors, denominational leaders, theologians, and lay leaders usually begin here.  A missionary starts somewhere else.

We must start with people (ordinary everyday people around us) ... We start with their assumptions, their experiences, their worldviews, their emotions.  When we start there, everything changes: our posture with people, our livelihood, what we do with our spare time, who we spend our time with, how we structure the fabric of our lives.  Yes, church is what we're concerned about because we're deeply entrenched in its minutia, but we can't make transformative adjustments if we start there and work outward.  We must go out and then let church reemerge as a reflection and the natural growth of our missional way of life. (p37-8).

How do we start with the people around us?  By making time to be with them, to listen to them, to communicate that we are for them.  We need to make sure we don't come from any position of superiority.  Non-verbal communication is vital:

Words communicate what we know, posture represents what we believe and feel.  Posture shows true emotion and the intent of our heart.  When we are trying to figure out why those outside the church aren't interested in our "good news", it may have nothing to do with our message, but our nonverbals ....... (p39)

We assume that if we can just get the idea across, then it will be up to the person to respond whether we do it correctly or not .....    Focusing on what we say without regard to how we say it doesn't work in marriage, with our kids, in politics, or in any other social arrangement.  So why do we think it would work with God?  (p41)

Our main contention is that what drew people to Jesus, surprisingly was not his message.  It was him...  Many people who were drawn to him as a man would leave after he let them in on the message.  This is quite a switch for most of us.  We try to draw others by soft-pedaling the message and end up repelling them by how we live our lives.  (p46).

David Wanstall, 20/08/2009