Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Vision of a Simple Church Part 3--Barbarian Christians

A "simple church" plant or a "simple" congregational overhaul must start with a blueprint.

Defining the ministry process is extremely important. Without it people won’t know how the church is making disciples. Whereas a clearly defined process encourages people to progress through it because they know the expectation. People cannot embrace the ambiguous.
But the first step is to determine what kind of disciples you want your Church to produce. Me? I want barbarians.
Erwin McManus' book "The Barbarian Way" describes a Christianity that is untamed and rough around the edges. A faith that unshackles itself from the polite, 18th and 19th century cultural moorings that have produced churches largely designed for women and children, play to girlish emotions and produce a Stepford-like effect where everyone wheres khaki and drives an SUV or minivan.
Think about what healthy churches really look like and I define healthy churches as those who make Leonard Sweet's 1% club (i.e., the 1% of churches that are actively reaching the unchurched rather than just stealing disgrunted members from other churches). Look at Mars Hill in Seattle where they have a 40% conversion rate or The Village in Dallas where the average attendee is a single twentysomething. Both ministries focus on worship and evangelical expository but charismatic preaching that is unafraid to touch subjects like sex, gender roles, etc. and speak the language of Gen-X & Gen-Y, which is the language of pop culture.
These are churches that actively train new converts to become missionaries in their own contexts. In other words, the goth kid who looks like he or she only shops at Hot Topic and fell into a tackle box still looks like the same and re-enters his or her goth world to evangelize his or her friends. They may still smoke, drink beer, listen to real radio stations, not K-Love, watch good movies (not Facing the Giants) but they will also worship and love God with all their heart and NO these two are not in any way in tension with the other.
Barbarian Christians are rough around the edges so that they do not appear like uptight, judgmental jerks to non-Christians and they are unafraid to go places where khaki wearing Christians fear to tread. I don't want a church that produces outlet mall/K-love/"purpose driven" converts, I want a church that produces soldiers ready to storm the gates of hell. How? More later.