Chapter 10: “Developing Missional Strategies”
- What did you like? (What gripped/excited you?)
- What did you dislike? (What do you disagree with? Why?)
- What can you use? (How can you apply this to your situation?)
“The call of leadership is to work with (its) people to help nurture a passion and commitment to a particular geography around them. That is where they can cooperate with the Spirit in employing all of their God-given resources into that place to guarantee that in a specific time frame, every person will have had the opportunity to hear, understand, accept or reject the call to reconciliation with God . . . We cannot build the church. Jesus and the Spirit do that. We cannot save people. The Spirit does that. But we as leaders can so envision, empower and release God's resources amongst Christ's people in such a way that the grace of God as expressed in the gospel is lived and declared in such a way that ALL of them can respond. The church begins to recover a sense of mission when it not only has a desire to share the gospel with as many people as possible but also when it begins actively to plan to make a difference in relation to a given circle of influence or accountability for which we are prepared to be held accountable to God and each other.”
- What do you think about this idea for your home group? What problems would this cause? Is this possible with your present home group?
- What do you think about the contention that taking responsibility for a specific geographical area is a key to actually mobilizing our people in outreach? (See p. 187: “In the previous chapter we talked about the fact that receptivity rises as the people of God talk regularly about the actions of God. It is possible to simply leave matters like that and see what happens. But there are other possibilities. Many churches in nations that are seeing a dramatic expansion of the kingdom are taking the natural and spontaneous passion of their people and helping them to be much more intentional in their encounter with secular people.”)
“The physicality of boundaries is qualified by two other factors. First, since at least the middle of the 20th century, far fewer people work within the communities in which they live. Increasingly, the most important personal relationships that people maintain outside of their immediate family cross geographical boundaries. Some churches have members with such strong relational networks that the geographical and community factors become significantly diminished. Second, even when a geographical area does feature strongly in the call of a church, it may not be a call to everyone in that area. It is possible for some churches to have a particular call to an identifiable ethnic group or a particular age group or even a socio-economic group. A given church may be effective with some identifiable groups in a neighborhood, but not with others. In such a situation, it is important to be realistic and also to ask, which other churches in our area can reach the people that we are unlikely to reach?”
- How much of your home group is made up of people within a specific geographical area; how much is made up of relational networks? Is this an either/or or a both/and issue?
- What other advantages does focusing (not exclusively) on a specific geographical area have?
- What about targeting certain groups within your geographical area and referring other groups to other area churches?
“Step one therefore is to agree with your church the boundaries to which church relates. Step two is to ask the far tougher question: do we accept responsibility for the community that we have identified? Step three is to ask: are there other churches with whom we share this responsibility? Is it possible to build meaningful relationships with them so that we partner in the task? Step four is to ask: how could we develop multiple opportunities to network with all of the people in our circle of influence for whom we accept responsibility? Step five is to begin a planning process that includes measurable goals.”
Assuming that your home group defined step one and decided to accept step two, what might step four look like?
What strikes you most about the case study of the Kiev church?
- “First, Valerie is someone with a vision, not just for the planting of a single church but for the evangelization of a nation. That vision is represented on his wall by multiple maps. The first map is of Kiev, the second a map of the region, the third a map of the nation, and the fourth a map of the whole Russian-speaking world.”
- What is Xenos’ vision?
- “Second, Valerie has given substance to his vision through specific actions he has taken and values he has communicated. He has worked hard to build a leadership team in his own church which is deeply committed to the same vision and values. Valerie and the key leaders of Hope Church meet monthly. They revisit the vision, identify dates on the advance of the kingdom through them, resolve issues, and pray for God's strength and power. More than anything, these opportunities serve two important functions: to remind them why they exist and to ensure that they stay on track! Further, these meetings ensure accountability. Nobody is left out. Everyone is expected to be able to demonstrate what they have done to advance the kingdom of God in their particular circle. All are expected to report regularly on new church plants! The same vision and values have been communicated to every member. This is critical, because the members translate the vision into action. The leaders ‘enable’ the vision, but the members accomplish it together with the leaders. The leaders seek to create a ministry for every people group, geographical area and social need.”
- How well do our home group members understand and ‘own’ Xenos’ vision?
- “Third, Valerie and his leaders have worked hard to understand their context. They know their city and its needs . . . Valerie and his leaders developed specialized ministries to particular groups in mainstream culture, such as university students, the military and businessmen, as well as developing excellent ministries to society's marginalized and unprotected.”
- “The fourth factor is the massive mobilization of every member. The core conviction of each member is that they are ambassadors for God wherever they go. That ambassadorial function does not make them experts in every area of need, but it does make them willing to step outside of their comfort zone to pray for people, and to expect God to act . . . This level of mobilization is served through a cell-based system. As we have pointed out already, this practice, no matter what form the small groups take, provides a number of advantages. These revolve around the fact that the members of each small group see the needs of the neighborhood very clearly indeed. Because this model requires more leaders to make it function, the threshold for entry to leadership is lowered. The cell level of leadership demands less complex skills than those required to lead the whole church. The facilitator/leader of the small group is required to identify and train an assistant leader, ensuring future leaders for the expanding church.”
- How mobilized are our home group members according to this definition?
- ‘Fifth, they have developed a training school for leaders and church planters. The training offers Bible knowledge but it also includes a highly practical element. The idea is to produce leaders who can translate knowledge into action. The training allows a very pragmatic approach to church planting. All possible thresholds are lowered, providing maximum resources to extend the gospel . . . The key question is, ‘What do we need to do to plant a church?’. . . This explosion of targeted resources has a significant impact, the cumulative result of which is the winning of people to Christ, the planting of a new church, the transformation of human hearts and the extension of the movement. The total impact of many people sharing their testimonies and offering practical help sharply increases receptivity to the gospel.”
- “Sixth, the approach which has proved so effective in Kiev is being replicated in other key centres. This is accomplished by identifying key successful leaders who have the ability and the vision, not just to plant another church but to plant an ‘Antioch’ or resource church in another key regional centre.”
- How could Xenos become an “Antioch” church?