growth through the parachurch...

interesting article at the Ooze, an emerging church type site...this author does outreach to gangs and ex-cons...

I’m excited about this Emerging church discussion because I’ve been waiting for the church to be missional enough to reap the harvest on my own mission field. Based on my experience, I can say without a doubt that the Emerging church’s focus on being more missional, more hospitable and more focused on “the least of these” will open up a world of ministry possibilities that the Emerging church has not yet dared to dream of.

While it’s great to hear those in church-based ministries say they want to get more missional, it may be worth noting that some of us para-church types have been doing the missional part without the church for some time. Missionaries will prove to be your biggest potential source of wisdom for the emerging church. No missionary would have, for example, come up with the idea to use a worship service as a primary means of evangelism (as opposed to actual outreach). If churches want to reach a poorly understood culture, do unique church planting, and be more missional…why not ask a missionary?

It’s great to read about first century church structure being a model for Emerging churches. And first century churches certainly were missional. This was for one simple reason: they were planted by missionaries and they were accountable to missionaries. I know it sounds crazy in today’s world to structure things this way, but back then you had a missionary (Paul) supervising/mentoring/coaching a group of elder-led church plants. But today, missionaries have been pushed down the leadership structure in America and relegated to begging pastors for the resources to do the ministry that the church doesn’t yet know how to do even on their own soil....

I love this idea...

Together we drew up plans for a ministry we call THE BRIDGE. Each Tuesday we have a service, a time of celebration where we boldly welcome the “least of these” to the wedding feast! Each week we invite three pastors to give a ten-minute sermonette on a pre-selected topic that is chosen by the attendees. We have a different music team each week and we have another church acting as a host team, providing a greeting and a meal after the service. It’s like a buffet; the best hand-picked pastors in town rotate through each week and you just come to the same place until you find a pastor you like. It’s perfect for church planters. They can pick up an armload of unchurched people in one trip! It’s been a lot of fun, and a big hit with everyone.

We selected churches for THE BRIDGE by visiting them ourselves, dressed down like our guys would be (we call it “ecclesiastical espionage”). We examined how the churches welcomed us and we developed a system for evaluating each church on the basis of items such as: the greeting, the ministry value of the music, and the relevance, “stickiness” and Biblicality of the sermons. We were surprised by what we found.

Generally speaking, the larger the church, the lower the rating. After more than 200 churches visited, we couldn’t find more than one or two churches in the entire Chicago metropolitan area that had a decent greeting at the door, unless it had fewer than 300 people. Any larger than that, and all you got was a bulletin jabbed at you and a cold little smile.

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