missional church: a practical rub

David Fitch has (re)posted a set of 10 theses about what to expect when joining a missional church, and I must say it is a list of things that Kevin and I grouse about to one another.  (That is an admission of guilt.)  He wrote it when he was a bit peeved so it  might have a bite to it, but overall he addresses exactly the issues we feel sometimes.  The bonus #11 is particularly poignant.

1.) Should not expect to regularly come to church for just one hour, get what you need for your own personal growth and development, and your kid’s needs, and then leave til next Sunday. Expect mission to change your life. Expect however a richer life than you could have ever imagined.

2.) Should not expect that Jesus will fit in with every consumerist capitalist assumption, lifestyle, schedule or accoutrement you may have adopted before coming here. Expect to be freed from a lot of crap you will find out you never needed.

3.) Should not expect to be anonymous, unknown or be able to disappear in this church Body. Expect to be known and loved, supported in a glorious journey.

4.) Should not expect production style excellence all the time on Sunday worship gatherings. Expect organic, simple and authentic beauty.

5.) Should not expect a raucous “lights out” youth program that entertains the teenagers, puts on a show that gets the kids “pumped up,” all without parental involvement. Instead as the years go by, with our children as part of our life, worship and mission (and when the light shows dim and the cool youth pastor with the spiked hair burns out) expect our youth to have an authentic relationship with God thru Christ that carries them through a lifetime of journey with God.

6.) Should not expect to always “feel good,”or ecstatic on Sunday mornings. Expect that there will ALSO be times of confession, lament, self-examination and just plain silence.

7.) Should not expect a lot of sermons that promise you God will prosper you with “the life you’ve always wanted” if you will just believe Him and step out on faith and give some more money for a bigger sanctuary. Expect sustenance for the journey.

8.) Should not expect rapid growth whereby we grow this church from 10 to a thousand in three years. Expect slower organic inefficient growth that engages people’s lives where they are at and sees troubled people who would have nothing to do with the gospel marvelously saved.

9.) Should not expect all the meetings to happen in a church building. Expect a lot of the gatherings will be in homes, or sites of mission.

10.) Should not expect arguments over style of music, color of carpet, or even doctrinal outlier issues like dispensationalism. Expect mission to drive the conversation.

O AND BY THE WAY Should not expect that community comes to you. I am sorry but true community in Christ will take some “effort”and a reshuffling of priorities for both you and your kids. Yes I know you want people to come to you and reach out to you and you are hurting and busy. But assuming you are a follower of Christ (this message is not for strangers to the gospel) you must learn that the answer to all those things is to enter into the practices of “being the Body” in Christ, including sitting, eating, sharing and praying together.

If anyone out there is interested in this kind of place please join us or another missional church gathering somewhere.
Now we don't really pitch ourselves as a "missional" church: it seems like "missional" is another burgeoning church movement of sorts.  Now that the emergent church is dead in its deconstructed parking space, it seems like missional church is a new more open way forward.  It is, in the first place a positively stated movement.

We're a tiny mixed church that is trying to be missional (theologically) though not a part of any missional movement, so these points really ring true.  How do they match up to your experience?
What do you think?


  1. I wonder the purpose of these "expectations". I am terrified of new things and knowing what to expect helps me to deal with my anxiety a little better. These expectations seem more like trying to keep people away, rather than engaging in the things we "should expect". Do you think they were really meant to be told to someone as advice or just a way of venting?

  2. Well, Fitch confessed he was frustrated when he wrote them, but I think their value lies in how incisively they address wrong expectations about church. Each point is a response to a lie that people believe. For me, the power in the article came from the resounding "yes!" I felt when this person, 1000's of miles away was able to so directly speak to the tensions we have in church, too.And while it might keep people away, that could be a good thing - the person who desires all those things critiqued will not like Fitch's church or ours, and I would argue they have misunderstood what church is.
    But you're right - it's crappy brochure material, and in other places he has positively stated his values and what should be expected. :)
    He has a great book if you're interested!

  3. I checked out this video, which I think is David Fitch talking about his book and I had a few thoughts:

    1. I was kind of convicted. There was a guy today asking for some change for food after church. No body knew where the grocery cards (we even had circular pointing of responsibility). James finally found them and talked to the guy for a few minutes, then we all left him to get our lunch. That's kind of like hospitality, but not really.

    2. Seems like we underutilize web resources. I feel like that video would be great to share with other people, if not only to let us know that we are not an isolated pocket in our beliefs.

    3. I am interested in how he speaks on post-modernism and the church. I was reading excerpts from Baudrillard yesterday and the part about the break of the relationship between the symbol and the truth, until the symbol becomes a truth in itself seems very applicable to the way I think. I feel like there is a dilusion of reality, so people are searching for something real.

  4. hey cool, D, thanks! I have not seen that video,before. Baudrillard is fun stuff. I'l write more later or catch up to you on Sunday. This sick thing has me squinting too much :P


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