There are plenty of examples out there of the silly stuff many of our LCMS pastors are reading and taking as the “gospel” for the new fangled church they keep trying to create. Here is an example from a rather odd source.
I had the opportunity to serve here at Bethany – Naperville, Illinois while we designed and built our new church and school several years ago. We are also in the initial stages of considering a new youth and music practice addition and I also do some capital fund raising consulting with congregations raising funds for various projects and so I have had plenty of opportunities to be around church construction and architecture.
I got on the mailing list of a local all-inclusive design and construction firm in northern Illinois. I read the occasional e-mails I get from them with casual interest but the one I got today really caught my eye. It will give you an insight into what too many LCMS pastors and clergy from other denominations are taking as the “gospel” of church development. It goes without saying that we will not be using the Aspen group. Apparently the e-mail is written by a laywoman staff member of the Aspen group. I will leave the commentary to you, our ever so sharp and witty readers.
Aspen Group hosts a couple of lunches a year to inspire and inform leaders in our area. Our last pastors lunch in February featured author, Alan Hirsch. I have the unenviable task of recapping his discussion. There is so much to share, so I will get to the main impressions. Ready?! Missional…. Recovering a sense of incarnation…Taking ourselves out of the way…
Missional doesn’t mean urban plunges on weekends. We should behave as missionaries in our own backyard. We need to learn to be a movement again. This was Jesus’ plan; we are at our best when we are a movement, activating everyone. Apostolic movements involve each person, not just the level of ecclesiastical leadership. Every person is a minister of Jesus Christ. Get over the notion of a professional minister. God has called you, saved you. The Church Jesus designed with founders like Peter, James and John was of ordinary people. Mission is a challenge and calls you out of your comfort zone. The church of Jesus is designed for impact. Faith is the biblical form of heroism. The church is meant to be on an adventure and we are obsessed with safety and security in our nice suburbs. Where is the life we’ve lost? Life requires disequilibrium.
Go forth! If you fall, big deal. Get back up again. –Alan Hirsch
Alan pointed out we need our own places to maintain a proximity to people. We need to “move in,” and Aspen is examining/designing community spaces in the context of the church building. I asked Aspen’s CEO, Ed Bahler, to share what he detected: In our efforts to drive church growth we’ve focused on one question….who are we trying to reach. As a result we’ve developed remarkably effective weekend worship services that have trained people to come and consume. For many of the younger “Digital” crowd it feels contrived. They desire to be engaged and part of the dialogue. As a result there are roughly 180 million Americans that will never be attracted to our current model. My hope and prayer is the “missional” efforts will challenge us to rethink how we are engaging. I pray we will be able to reach beyond the church walls and beyond our present practice to develop new expressions of the church that engage the next generation in powerfully ways. Ways that not only connect them to Christ, but engage them in ways that transform their choices and their life.
Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford have written a practical book subtitled, Everyday Mission for Everyday People. Here is the link to their book, Right Here Right Now http://www.righthererightnowbook.com/
Their writings show you how to “move out” and behave as people who are sent. What question do you have?
There are some very smart people thinking about this subject. I can connect you to their training team.