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Who Broke the Missional Movement?

The Biggest Thing Keeping Churches from Effectiveness

About a decade ago, the “missional movement” promised to transform the Church and make loads of new disciples. It was supposed to break down barriers in our culture, stopping the decline of church attendance nationwide. So who broke the missional movement?

Unfortunately, the answer may be closer than we think. 

The Show Must Go On

Not too many years ago, while employed on staff at a large contemporary church of thousands, I had a stark reality check dropped on me:

I realized I had zero non-Christian friends. In fact, I hardly even knew my neighbors. I was just too darn busy pulling off all the programs that went on throughout the week (after week after week) at the church building.

Record Scratch… Full Stop 

Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense!

If I and a handful of other pastors and leaders in the church are supposed to be role models for the rest of our people, showing them how to live and make disciples as Jesus did, shouldn’t pastors have loads of not-yet believing friends? I’m not talking about acquaintances… I’m talking about relationships, friends.

Shouldn’t we be rock-star disciple makers, living the same way Jesus and his disciples did?

And now, years later, I have discovered that despite all of the hype and all of the ‘cool-factor’ connected to this hoped-for movement, most pastors and leaders I know have still barely embraced a lifestyle of discipleship and mission. Why is that?

7 Roadblocks I See (And Hear) A Lot
  1. Time.  “I’m afraid of the real commitment to being and making disciples in community.”
  2. Family.  “What if my own family won’t go along with this?”
  3. “If I start and fail? I will look bad to my people…you know, if it ain’t broke…”
  4. Gospel-fluency. “Truth be told, I have never been discipled in a way that the gospel was applied and allowed to transform every area of my life. I’ve learned a pretty high degree of Bible literacy, but I have pretty low gospel fluency.”
  5. Reproduction.  “I do not have a reproducible way that makes disciples that make disciples and live out the life that Jesus did.”
  6. Money.  “If I were to somehow pull this off and our people were to actually embrace life in a vibrant missional community, they might stop coming to church on Sundays. Then how would be collect their money and pay the bills around here?”
  7. Comfort.  Last of all, but maybe hardest to admit: “I really prefer my faith, ministry and Christian vocation just the way it is, thank you very much. It fits. I’ve worked it out. My time, my ministry, my family, my hobbies etc. Everything in its place.
Gospel-centered community trainingThis all starts with your family.

Missional Movement

You will never lead others further or disciple them “better” than you live this out in your own household.

This can be challenging for us to get our heads and hearts around, because for many of us we have built our Christian lives around a Sunday church service or a midweek small group time and an occasional serving project. 

If we treat discipleship and mission like a weekly meeting or a series of events on a schedule, that’s all that it will be.Click To Tweet

But if we treat discipleship and mission like a weekly meeting or events on a schedule, that’s all that it will be.

And unfortunately, your relationship with God will mirror what you live and practice. So will your church’s.

Life with God will be nothing more than a scheduled event, a few times a week.

Dallas Willard has said that every church (and therefore every church leader) should be able to answer two important questions: First, what is our plan for making disciples? And second, does our plan work?

Most pastors and churches I know would say they have a plan. Usually a series of classes. But, my good friend Mike Breen says, “If we are creating disciples who are far from the people we see in scripture, as the rule and not the exception, we must ask ourselves why this is the case and how we can change that reality.”

Here are a few questions I suggest leaders ask themselves:
  1. Have I been discipled–truly apprenticed–in the gospel in all of life?
  2. Am I living a life worth imitating? (Not just my “spirituality”.)
  3. Would young followers of Jesus be able to model their lives after mine and know how to make disciples?
  4. Do I have a plan and method for making disciples that works and is reproducing itself to the third and forth generations and beyond?

Get the training and help you need. Admit that you don’t have it all figured out yet…no more excuses. [Get information on how you can learn to live this way in community.]

Your family, your church, your friends are waiting.

So do we have a broken missional movement?

No. No one’s broke it.

Do we as leaders need to take a long look in the mirror and start asking these hard questions?

I think so. And the next best time to get started is now.

Question: What help would you need to really start leading your family, small group or church on mission?

You can see the video, “Who Broke The Missional Movement?” on Youtube.