I highly recommend Change the World by Mike Slaughter, Abingdon Press, Nashville 2010. It is easy to read yet insightful and all church leaders will greatly benefit from its perspectives and wisdom.
Pastor Mike Slaughter is the lead pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. Under Mike’s leadership, the church is grown from 90 worshipers a week to over 5000. Mike is been the pastor for many years. Years ago he was part of the church growth movement. Now, like many of us who learned much from the church growth movement, he has seen its weaknesses, and moved on to embrace balancing truths that the missional church movement is teaching.
It was interesting to observe as he explained of theology of the missional movement what the three scriptures were that he picked as foundational. The first was Micah 6:8. “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Slaughter comments, “The mission of church is actively and practically demonstrating God’s mercy through ministries that provide daily life necessities in the communities where they are located (p. 20).”
The second, was John 15:12, 13. “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Pastor Slaughter reminds us, “The Jesus follower cannot live this mandate and stay in comfortable places and this one (p. 21).” The concept is the same, as is usually chosen, but the verse emphasizes the sacrificial nature of love for our neighbor.
The third verse is the familiar great commission of Matthew 28:18 – 20. The author makes a point to say that all of our service is “to no avail if we are not actively committed to building authentic Christ follower – disciples (p. 23) and this one was.” He further writes, “The true measure of your church’s effectiveness is the ratio between the number of people attending, the number of people active in discipleship cells, and the number answering the call of God through service (p. 51).” Sacrificial service is modeled by the board members who are required to give 2 or 3 vacation days per year for church planning retreats. They are also expected to tithe their income.
One of the key mistakes that the American church usually makes is teaching discipleship only in classes. “Discipleship occurs in the active process of doing. We error when we tried to create transformation in people’s lives through the transference of concepts rather than through participation in mission. The disciples learned as they traveled and ministered with Jesus. We failed to make disciples when we reduce the meaning of discipleship to the assimilation of ideas (p. 53).” That is a profound observation.
“Potential movements of God will result in stillbirths if we do not move people out of the waiting rooms of our sanctuaries into the delivery rooms of the world to serve human need (p. 128).”
Every disciple in his church is asked to live in the rhythm of celebration, cell, and call (p. 65). Celebration refers to worshiping with the whole church. Cell refers to membership in a small group. And call refers to the ministries of service to which the disciple feels called. “The strategy of your church’s discipleship process must keep in mind the end goal. Too many churches make the mistake of majoring input, the number of classes or programs being offered, rather than results. Remember, it is not about the number of people who are coming to your church but the number of your people who are actively and effectively serving Christ mission in your community and the world (p. 66).”
“To Jesus, the church was an active verb and not a passive noun. His followers practiced mission evangelism. They understood that the mission was not to get the world into the church but to get the church into the world!… Let’s quit worrying about numbers in the pews and begin to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our homes, our communities, and the outermost places of the world.” (p. xxi)
“We cajole people into making decisions for Jesus rather than truthfully challenge people to calculate the cost of following Jesus in a lifestyle of sacrificial service (p. 1).”
“Those of us in the church have been guilty of creating a gospel that is self-serving and other judging. We spend our resources and energies on building structures and creating programs for ourselves, and then call it mission!… If the world is ever going to take the good news of the gospel seriously, then we must take a serious look at our paradigms for ministry, repent, and align our priorities and resources with the message and mission of Jesus (p. 8).”
“The predominant methodologies that drove strategic planning and programming during the height of the church growth – seeker era were based in “attractional” evangelism…. The church must make a major paradigm shift from attraction evangelism to mission evangelism. In simplest terms, this is what Jesus meant when he said that all people would see that we were his disciples through the demonstration of our sacrificial love (pp. 10, 11).”
“Full and abundant life consists not of the things we possess but of the relationships in which we invest (p. 70).”
“In light of the gospel mandate that directs the church to meet the urgent needs of the least and the lost, escalating utility costs, and the global economic crisis, churches must find creative ways to minimize brick and maximize mission (p. 109).”
“The permanence of our 19th and 20th century capital assets has us out of position for 21st century mission. Our brittle wineskins cannot hold new wine! Why are we reluctant to commit to new wineskins? We have assigned sacred value to our physical facilities, and we can’t let go. Buildings are not sacred – people are sacred! We need to let go of buildings and invest in the world that God loves and for whom Jesus died (p. 110).”