What does Missional look like in Metropolis?

I want to get a conversation going that I hope will eventually change the face of First Baptist Church. The question I would like to pose to get the conversation going is this, “What does missional look like in Metropolis?” Now before you answer that question I think you need to understand a couple of things.

First, what does the word missional mean? The term missional has come into vogue over the last several years. At first I thought this was just a fad and basically ignored it. But slowly, as I read more and more about how this word was being used, I began to experience a change of heart to the point that now I am a full-fledged, cool-aid drinking advocate of this word. In its most basic form the word missional is simply the adjective form of the noun mission. Simply put, “a missional church functions as a missionary in its community.” (Ed Stetzer, Comeback Churches, 4) Stetzer goes on to say that, “Missional churches do what missionaries do, regardless of context. They can parachute drop into a village in India or go into a metropolitan U.S. city and be missional. If they do what missionaries do- study and learn language, become part of culture, proclaim the Good News, be the presence of Christ, and contextualize biblical life and church for that culture- they are missional churches.” (Stetzer, 4) In simple terms then, a missional church views itself as being on mission with God in its local community.

Second, why has this term come into vogue lately in the church? Most pastors and missiologists alike would agree that starting about a decade ago the tried and true methods of growing churches began to lose their effectiveness. Something had changed in the culture and the programs and strategies that once produced growth were now showing signs of losing their appeal. Just in case you’re wondering this is about the time that First Baptist reached a plateau in our attendance and where we essentially remain today. What was essentially happening was that the church stopped being able to relate to the world it was trying to reach. Basically, the prevailing culture of the church became so different from that of the world we were trying to reach that we lost the ability to communicate effectively. Stetzer observes that, “It’s ironic that most evangelical churches are filled with people who live very much like the world but look different from it. It should be exactly the opposite. We should look similar to those in our community but act differently. Study after study has shown that North American evangelicals engage in the same lifestyles and sins as the unchurched. Yet, their church preferences are quite different that the world. In other words, we look different to the world, yet live that came as the world.” (Stetzer, 6) This observation may be why so many in our culture view the church as hypocritical and irrelevant to their lives. The missional church attempts to return the church to its original mission of proclaiming the gospel in culture by intentionally sending its members into the community as missionaries and making decisions based upon effectiveness in carrying out the mission rather than preference.

So now let me explain the conversation that I hope to get started here on the blog. Obviously, if we are going to become a missional church we will need to examine how we are going about the mission of God here in our community. What I would like to hear is a conversation about how to go about being missional in our city. In other words, being missional means that we do not go out and copy what someone else is doing. What works in Nashville, St. Louis, Atlanta or Seatlle is not likely to work here. Metropolis has its own unique and special culture. How do we go about proclaiming the gospel in a manner that is relevant to our community? Maybe, another way to look at this issue is, what are we doing now that hinders our effectiveness in reaching our community? In other words, are there things we are comfortable with that are out-of-touch with our culture and actually hinder us from effectively carrying out the mission?

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34 thoughts on “What does Missional look like in Metropolis?

  1. You ask…”In other words, are there things we are comfortable with that are out-of-touch with our culture and actually hinder us from effectively carrying out the mission?” I think the answer is yes. At the same time, one of the major issues I have wrestled with when thinking about our church being missional in metropolis is this: Our town is much more diverse than many realize. Many of the “missional” churches are quite homogeneous in their make up. I think this is a weakness. Somehow, we must find a way to reach across cultural barriers right in our own church. For the sake of reaching all things “new” in our church, we cannot stop reaching that which is “old.” When I use these terms, I do not use them in reference to age. There are two distinct cultures in Metropolis. There is the “old” culture that does exist but is slowly fading with time; and there is an emerging culture that is “new.” Whatever we do, we must be careful to firmly place one foot in both “worlds.” Each “world” must be convinced through word and action that they must respect the other. Sometimes, one may have to accept some things they are uncomfortable with for the sake of the furtherance of the Gospel in the other. We must check our own “preferences” at the door for the cause of Christ and be willing to reach out across the cultural divides! This is what missionaries do! A good missionary cannot get caught up in “changing” the things about a culture that is different from his own that he doesn’t like. A good missionary tries to find ways to engage a differing culture with the Gospel; for the sake of Christ!

    Joy,
    Cliff

  2. I believe that serving in this community is a wonderful way to show the love of Christ, as we have seen effective. The problem is that many people I speak to in the community (such as my mother in law and people Jeremy has known most of his life) have the view that FBC is full of “uppity” people and that people here are rich and/or snooty. I have never found this to be the case. The problem is that by ministering to these people in service, the feedback I receive is that we are all two-faced. The only way I know to combat this is through prayer, because the hearts of these people are hardened toward the Lord and what He would have them to take away from this experience. That being said, we are under constant scrutiny to make sure that we do not stumble, which is inevitable-we are sinful. It ties in to the not acting like the world. I think the biggest part of all of this is where is our heart. If we are serving the Lord He will be glorified.
    P.S. Cliff-I was second to comment and you know what they say-second is the best…

  3. We need to start asking ourselves some questions and seeking some answers. Here are two that I think are relevant to this topic:
    1- Why do people live in Metropolis?
    2- What are some defining characteristics of Metropolis as a community?

  4. Each Heartcry magazine has on it’s back cover “What part of “Go” don’t you understand”. With that said, it’s good that we’re not asking “if” but how we should be “missional”. All good posts above, Kyle I have never thought about #1, it’s a legitimate and good question. It’s kind of weird, much like you, other than college, I’ve always lived here but never really asked why. But I deep down I know why for me, family, comfort, friends, cost of living etc. But what about others why would they come to Metro? A good ole baptist saying is to “grow where you’re planted” yet I don’t know of a single living plant that does not try to ” be fruitful and multiply” so should we as Christians currently planted in Metropolis “be fruitful and multiply” sprouting spiritual brothers and sisters (if you’ll allow me that exegetical liberty of Gen 1:28) I would also agree with Hope, for better or for worse, right or wrong, that perception is out there. As a quasi-outsider I’ve heard it and even (gulp) thought it.
    So how do we go about being Missional in Metro. What does the average Metropolitan look like? Therein lies the problem the poles are so far apart, as Cliff noted, it’s hard to define some middle ground, some average Clark (Kent). Why is average Clark here. Here’s a partial list: 1.) Work (Harrah’s or one of the plants, teacher, doctor, etc.) 2.) Born here 3.)Running from the law. (See Darian Rottmann) 4.) Student 5.) What else????? When painting the average Clark you’re left with an uncommon group like the Breakfast Club, a headbanger, sporto, geek, princess, and whatever it was that Ally Sheedy was. So to meld Cliff and Kyle there’s no single pattern. We need to reach all of them with like-in-kind.
    Pastor you asked the question “Maybe, another way to look at this issue is, what are we doing now that hinders our effectiveness in reaching our community” My question is, pre-ice storm, what where we doing in our community at all? I ask partially as a newcomer in ignorance and partially rhetorically because I’ve not seen much from any Church as far as being “Missional” in Metropolis. Some Churches put a funny saying on a sign and then sit back and wait for people to come in. We should mimic Paul when he showed up in Athens, he opened with a compliment ” I see you very religious” then debated with them rather than preaching to them, he certainly didn’t approach them as he had done to the Jews previously.
    Next we must identify who is willing to “go” and be missional. Then determine who they are best suited to “go” to. If no one is willing to go then we can try to be missional all we want but all we’ll do is burn out a few people. Let’s take an inventory of what (who) we have and what their gifts are and then send them out, with training if necessary.

    That’s where I’d start, who are the people groups why are they here and who’s willing and able to go to them? Let’s not go to war until we know who our soldiers are and who it is we’re going after. Maybe that’s already been done, as the new guy I dunno. Sorry for being long, I tend drift toward rambling and incoherence.

    Carl

  5. Mabey to get serious about missional in our community, we could look at the quote in your blog’the church is filled with people who live very much like the world, but look different. It may not be, then so much how we look to others, as how we are living among them and relateing to them in our neighborhoods, work place, and etc.
    I am 64yrs, and my children all are worshiping in completely different types of churches, than they were saved in and attended as children, and teen years. I have listened closely, and it is the same message, and I have been able to worship the same God very comfortably.
    I know there are hurting people in Metropolis,young and old. But just maby we need to walk a closer walk, so they will recieve us in His name. Pastor remember the young girl who went along with us tree triming, by asking to come along with us, she was asking to be accepted. I think of her often.
    Whatever we do, we must not stray from the gospel, being presented in His love. Jackie

  6. As for my first question, I see 3 categories to start off with.

    1- Those who choose to be here irregardless of their job. These people tend to fit into what we traditionally think of as a citizen of Metropolis. These people made a conscious decision to live here because they liked the sense of community they find here and value strong familial ties. How do we use this to increase the kingdom and individual discipleship.

    2- Those who are here solely because their job forces them to be here. Thinking of non-natives who move here to work at Harrah’s, Honeywell, LaFarge, etc. This group may or may not share similar characteristics and are making Metropolis less homogenous. How do we reach out to these people and make them feel welcomed into our community?

    3- Those who feel trapped here because of their job or lack thereof. Disenfranchised and unimpressed by our small town ways. How do we share Christ most effectively with these individuals?

    http://theresurgence.com/matt_chandler_2008-02-26_video_tnc_preaching_the_gospel_in_the_center_of_the_evangelical_world

    The above link is of a sermon by Matt Chandler in which he talks about preaching in the center of the Bible belt and how the Bible Belt is changing as people move in from other areas and as children of evangelicals become “innoculated” to the true life altering power of the Gospel.

  7. U2 Jackie! And, unfortunately, the perception described by Hope is one that is much too commonly held. In many ways it is unjust, but in some ways we help to propel it.

  8. Several years ago, my unsaved brother-in-law chided me, to ask if FB, had ever gone to the people near the train tracks, and the poorer section of Metropolis. I thought of that a few weeks ago, as I helped clean-up from the storm, there.
    My heart hurt, because I knew, that, was the 1st time in 9 years, that I had ever seen the area.
    We have to find a way out of our comfort zone, other than going across the ocean.
    Jackie F

  9. Jackie,

    That is precisely why we have “crossed the tracks” multiple times in the wake of the storm. It is also why we are targeting that area with our church wide summer outreach. (Backyard Bible Club/Block party) I will say this, there have been more efforts in that area than many people think. As a matter of fact, I’d say in the last 10 years more has been done there than in any other area of the city. However, perception is reality. Also, we haven’t done enough in any area of outreach to warrent bragging on our part! Therefore, if we are to break the stereotypes mentioned by Hope, we have to overwhelm them with our kindness. If we are persistent in serving all areas of our city, eventually, perceptions will change. We must become known as the church that is always out doing things for the community!

    Great discussion folks! Keep it up.

  10. One more thought:

    1.) One of the biggest obstacle that we might face is that everyone in Metropolis is already a christian, just ask them, they’ll tell you. Obviously I am being sarcastic, but that mindset is out there. I’d wager (if I were a bettin’ man) that 95% of the people in Metro think they’re Christian. They think that for a number of different reasons e.g. They joined a church once, they were baptized once, they prayed a prayer, they’re American, they’re white middle class good ole boys, they believe in God and so on. This is no small challenge or mindset to overcome! It’s different in an un-churched Urban area where people wear there unchristianess (word?) as a point of pride, you can spot them a mile away, but in metro it’s not so clear. Reminds of a story that Paul Washer told about coming back to Brookport after being converted at college. He decide dto go door-to-door to every house in Brookport to witness to everyone. What did he find? Everyone in Brookport was saved!! At least they said they were all saved. How sad. That is the mindset we face everyone thinks they’re Christian. How do we battle that?

    One last thought I agree those above, we should go to the people in the areas already mentioned, as an overall effort to reach out to all the people of Metro in all neighborhoods.

    Carl

  11. Wow! This is really turning into a great conversation and I’m excited about what I’m reading. I think that overcoming the perception in our community that we are uppity and perhaps unconcerned will be a major hurdle to overcome. I think all of you are right in that the way we will have to do this is through consistent service and building relationships across every segment of our town. The ice-storm has helped us somewhat with that and I think we will continue making inroads throughout this summer. Cliff is right, we want to be known as the church that really cares for its community and is engaged in ministering to it.

    Jackie, I really appreciate your observation that we need to minister to the people that live across the tracks. In reality we need to reach across every group- the down and outers as well as the up and comers. You made a very good observation when you said, “I know there are hurting people in Metropolis,young and old. But just maby we need to walk a closer walk, so they will recieve us in His name. Pastor remember the young girl who went along with us tree triming, by asking to come along with us, she was asking to be accepted. I think of her often.
    Whatever we do, we must not stray from the gospel, being presented in His love.” This is what I mean when I talk about being authentic. People today are looking for us to be real, when they see authentic Christians living like Jesus lived they will wonder what the difference is. This will give us the opportunity to share the gospel with them.

    Kyle and Carl have begun a very interesting conversation about who lives in Metropolis. The three categories of people that Kyle mentioned probably all exist within our church. I wonder which group do you belong to? It would be interesting to hear from people in each of these three groups to see what attracted and connected them to First. I would be willing to say that whatever attracted these people and helped to connect them to Jesus will be the same thing that wins others.

    Carl’s point that everyone in Metropolis claims to be saved should not be overlooked. We are ministering to a community that has what we might call a “cultural Christianity.” Obviously, not all of those who claimed to be saved have genuinely experienced conversion, therefore we must deal with this issue as we think about how to reach our community. I think that at least part of dealing with cultural christianity is to teach people what a genuine Christian looks like and then to live out an authentic life before the community. People can spot a fake from a mile away but the real-thing will often take them by surprise.

    I’m very excited about this conversation and hope that we will be able to get more people involved. Let me suggest something to all of you. Email this link to your friends in the church and ask them to give us their thoughts. Invite some of them to have lunch with you and start talking about how we can be missionaries right here in MEtropolis. God is at work in our church and we want everyone to be involved in what He is doing.

  12. I think these are all great comments and ideas. I just want to put my $.02 worth in (if it is even worth that). Obviously I am the new man in town and will admit that I don’t even know where all the areas of town are. What I do know is this, no matter what has or hasn’t happened missionally from our church in the past, we have had the opportunity from God to start doing something, and I believe we have started strong. There will always be ups and downs in when and where we do things, but the point is that we are out there doing it. This little jump start has also allowed us to get into many different areas of town. Perceptions are real to people, I agree with Cliff, but we not only are called to serve them in love and joy through Christ and to show Him to them but to also show our community who we are and becoming. Hopefully we are realizing our worth in Christ and have a new found desire to share that with our community. And through our service to our Lord and to our community we will be able to break down those perceptions. Hope, don’t be discouraged! Continue to pray because that is our best strategy, but we must also keep doing and show we are different. I hope that all makes sense. Lets just keep moving forward, let’s be strategic, but let’s not let our thinking bog down and prevent us from doing!

  13. I am very proud of my family for conversations like this. I love you all. Can’t wait to be back with you. After reading your posts I feel inadaquette to contribute at all lol.I just would like to mention something I have been thinking about. Monday, my chuch history prof. said this: “We have a biblical world view for man, sin, and other things. Yet do we have a biblical view for missions in the Bible? No, because it IS The Biblical Worldview!” I find that interesting. It is speaking of taking the gospel to unreached areas of course. However, can this not apply to FBC-Metro.Is it acceptable for us not to be missional?No.Our biblical worldview must be missional in nature. Praise God, for my dear family in metropolis!!!

  14. Just for the record, I blame no one besides myself for not ministering to the other side of the tracks. But I do know had there been as much as needed, we would not have to broadcast ourselves, they would be doing that for us.
    And I too, have heard, oh yes, they are saved, and no there is no need to visit, they are not going to come to church.Our God can do mighty things if we allow Him to work thu us. Jackie F

  15. Don’t blame me for the comment. Cliff asked me to give my two cents. I don’t have much to say other than I’m a little concerned with the statement:

    “starting about a decade ago the tried and true methods of growing churches began to lose their effectiveness”

    Exactly of what methods do you speak? Were those methods “tried and true”? If so, where they based on the centrality of expositional preaching? If not, could it be the grace of God that He is getting His Bride back to biblical methods? What is true church growth? Is it numbers? Is it true converts?

    Each of these questions demands an answer to see a church follow the sufficiency of scripture, and not just the inerrancy of scripture, issue.

    Thar’s she blows–my two cents! 🙂

    I love and miss you all! Having a ball in AL!

  16. For a good new resource on this topic you guys need to check out.
    The Convergent Church: Missional Worshipers in an Emerging Culture, by Mark Liederbach and Alvin Reid. I’ll admit I am bias since I know that Liederbach guy. Check it out, it is good.

  17. First, let’s all acknoledge that God is much bigger than any of our issues, and that He comes on His own terms. He can choose to grow our church, and He can choose to NOT grow our church.

    As has been said above, we are, however, called to be mission oriented and we are called to serve others with our hearts. Having said that……

    I think a lot of our issues comes from the basic demographic of our church. If you notice, one of our strengths as a church is the fact that we have three and four generation families (and a lot of them) here. Along with that, we have people who, although unrelated, have spent their whole lives together – grade school, high school, etc. That helps us in so many ways, but in some ways it can be a weakness. If an outsider walks into our church and doesn’t feel comfortable being in the midst of “all these people with all this history,” then we have a problem. We, as a church, have to find a way to break this perception. The guy who just moved here with his wife and kids MUST be accepted in the midst of all our generational history. If he isn’t, he’ll go somewhere else (or worse – nowhere else).

    That being said, we also have to be honest with ourselves as to who we will be reaching out to. If you think about it, most of the people that are similar to us (socially, economically, etc) probably already have a church. Those who are NOT like us are the ones who are left. As well as not being similar to us, the fact that they are “unchurched” means that they haven’t been in the midst of God’s people, and therefore don’t have the accountability network that we have (and too often take for granted.) In other words – they have baggage and they have issues, and in a lot of cases – serious ones. A lot of the people that we say we want to reach will have pasts, and not pretty ones. Many of them are dirt poor, many of them are single parents struggling to survive, and some may even be on the verge of homelessness. Many will have struggles with alcoholism, drug abuse, adultry, divorce, problems with the law, homosexuality, and every other nasty thing you can tag to a person.

    Our church needs to be the place where people can bring those horrible, SERIOUS issues and truly be accepted.

    As long as we have trouble accepting the people who are only slightly different than we are (who don’t live in quite as nice of a house, or who don’t wear the same clothes we wear), we’ll never be trusted by the people outside our circle who are unchurched and REALLY need us most.

    If we look at what Jesus did, He didn’t just minister to the people who were the “dregs” of His world, but he surrounded Himself by them. He wasn’t afraid to touch them, hug them, eat with them, and in the midst of all that, He saved a lot of them.

    That’s what our church MUST be. We first need to start within ourselves and actually BE the place where EVERYONE is accepted. Once we accept those that are currently around us, then maybe those on the outside slowly begin to trust us. Who knows, they may even meet Jesus in the process.

  18. David, you make some very good points. We have been providentially given an incredible opportunity for service in the past month and the church as responded very well. We should praise God for what is happening and receive it as a gift from Him! Whatever the past may have been the future is yet to be unfolded and God is doing something wonderful. You are also wise in reminding us that strategic thinking is important but cannot get in the way of doing.

    Nate, good stuff and I agree. A biblical worldview is all about being on mission with God. Now get back to studying and I can’t wait till you get home this summer.

    Jackie, thank you for your humility and wisdom. I think you ae hitting the nail on the head. If we are living in an intentionally missional way, which is a fancy way of saying live for Jesus, then our lives will do much of the speaking for us. I’m not discounting the need for verbal witness because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word,” but I am saying that especially in our culture actions matter. God will use authentic Christians.

    Tom, good point. The methods that I am talking about are primarily Sunday School, worship service, and many of the attractional methods that were once prominent. I do think that Jesus is calling His bride back to the sufficiency of Scripture, and I think part of that is living out an intentionally missional lifestyle. No one can question my commitment to expository preaching, however, there is more to the church than just preaching. Expository preaching must be central to all the church does because if we don’t have it we will likely get anything else right but there is more. The issue is not numbers but genuine converts. Numbers are easy, converts take prayer and faithful, humble service. We need to focus on being and making full fledged followers of Christ.

    Thanks Adam, good to see you engaged in this conversation.

    Carl, very insightful comments and ones that we need to take very seriously. Being missional means reaching not only people who are like us but people who are very different from us. We will have to learn how to be more accepting and how to connect people of all types of backgrounds to the church. Elmer Towns calls this being a “heterogeneous body made up of homogenous groups.” That is a fancy way of saying that we are one church made up of several different groups. Not different in doctrine and practice but in preferences and backgrounds.

  19. Mark Driscoll on Biblical Principles and Cultural Methods:

    Definitely applies to us, IMHO, as we seek to reach out to our community most effectively.

  20. Wow! What a great discussion! I have been pondering what Carl said about the “others” (no pun intended, for you LOST fans!). As someone who did not grow up here, I do sometimes feel like an outsider looking in. There is a lot of history with people at our church. It’s not fair for me to compare myself to the visitor who comes to our church, because I’m the Minister’s Wife. I was naturally accepted, but in a way I have been guarded. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and I feel like I relate more to the non-believer/follower of Christ. One thing that I think needs to happen at First Baptist is transparency! I’m preaching to myself, because I’m a great actress. I can act the role of the have it together wife and mom. I wonder what is under the layers of each person. People coming to our church don’t want to see people who are perfect. They want to see people like themselves, in need of a Savior. I’m not knocking prayer requests, but if you listen they are all about other people and never about personal struggles with sin. On Sunday morning, I admitted in Sunday School that I didn’t trust God in a situation. I think the person coming into our church as a visitor needs to see and hear that we all desperately need a Savior every moment. They need to see that life isn’t perfect and we are struggle, but what makes us different is CHRIST! I think if we would be “real” that the “others” would understand more that they need Christ. If we would live as if we need Christ in everything…

    I hope all this makes sense. Just speaking from my heart.

  21. The “crossing of the tracks” has been mentioned several times, and it is a subject close to me, so I will address it a little. Truth is, I’ve spent most of my life in areas like that, and even spent a couple years in our own “wrong side of the tracks”. And if I can be frank, we have reached much of the middle-to-upper middle class folks in town. That’s not to say that we should not reach out to the well off, but perhaps a mindset that reaches to the lowly is needed. As Cliff pointed out, there has been a great deal of work done there in recent years, but I have not seen our church as a whole recognize that as perhaps the greatest mission field we have in our town. Just as an observation, I do not remember ever receiving a flyer for a church function anywhere while I lived in that area, whereas when I lived across from Big John’s, I received several a week it seemed. I am not trying to say anything specific regarding that, only that I want us to think about it. A note on our demographic as well, our church is comprised mainly of middle-class families. Perhaps, then, a good target would be single mothers, divorcees, and lower-class families. I am not trying to say anything negative about the composition or intentions of our church (honestly, I do not believe that our lack of diversity is of any intentional fault of our own except that we have not had enough intent to rectify it). I am thankful for a church that accepted me regardless of my economic status and am zealous for that grace to be extended to others in our community. My prayer is that we would be ministers to the tax collectors and prostitutes, the down-and-outs and the gangbangers, and just to the single mom trying to get by. They need Jesus just as much (and no more) as we do.

  22. Amy, I agree with what you said about being transparrent. I think the church (not just our church but THE church) should ideally be a place where our guard can come down, we can confess our dirt, and still love each other.

    Sadly, I think we would all agree that we just aren’t at that level of spiritual maturity in our culture (again, not just our church, but THE church). What is the statement Joe frequently makes: Christians are the only army that shoots it’s wounded?

    I think that while we are striving to reach that level of maturity, we should in the mean time try our best to create an environment where people just outright FEEL accepted and valued.

    I’ll give you all a very practical and personal example. Last weekend, Ginger and I went to a parenting seminar at a small church in Paducah. We were CLEARLY the outsiders. We were the only ones in the seminar that didn’t go to that church. While we were guests of one of Ginger’s friends, we were VERY uncomfortable. That lasted for about ten minutes. The environment of love and acceptance that was demonstrated to us by that group of people was indescribable. By the end of the first night, I honestly felt like I was truly in the midst of Christian brothers and sisters, and all they did was reach out to us, talk to us, call us by name, and take a genuine interst in us. Not just a welcoming committee either – EVERY ONE OF THEM did that.

    I think an environment like that in our church would be a great place to start.

  23. Good word Jacob! Do you have any ideas of how we can reach people on the “other side of the tracks”? I think suggestions would be very helpful.

    Carl, thanks for sharing. It has to start with each one of us deciding to step out of our comfort zone and comfort friends and make friends with those visitors who come in our doors. Also with our neighbors and those we come in contact with on a daily basis – Grocery, Drug Store, Restaurant, etc. When I was a server in a restaurant, I visited someone’s church who I served b/c they invited me and they also tipped well and were kind and friendly. Going back to the comfort zone, it also starts with us in being more transparent with others.

  24. One thing we hope to accomplish this summer is to better understand the full perspective of metropolis demographically. Bob and I, hope better understand the people of Metropolis. This, however, can not be done without my church family. We need your thoughts and contributions because many of you know and have lived here a lot longer than I. Your experience is something I consider to be profitable. Furthermore, I plan to take advantage of you for all that info!! lol Now, I am not speaking of a plan that is man-centered, and focused on numbers, yada yada yada. Yet one that has the Cross of Christ at its center. Everything we will do will be seasoned with grace. May, we preach nothing but Christ crucified! Also, no matter rich or poor, young or old, black or white, able or disable, gentle or angry, may we love all the people of Metropolis as we would love ourselves. For that commandment is like the first, Loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. May we as a church be centered on the gospel. May we serve others humbly because of that gosepl. Therefore, hoping for those served to be reached and consumed with that gospel.Love you all 🙂

  25. Carl:
    Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! That is precisely the kind of church culture I long for. A place were men and women can confess their dirt, be forgiven by the church as God forgives, and get help with their problems. The question is, how can we become the first? How do we start a church culture centered around grace?

    Amy, thanks. As for ideas, I have a few. Clay Blankenbaker suggested that our Sunday School class put on a sort of “Oil Change Day for Single Mothers”. I really like that idea. Many of those mothers are very busy working several jobs to support their children, and don’t have time or money to do so. According to what I heard from Cliff and Clay, many haven’t had their oil changed for even 60,000 miles. That’s a great start.

    Another idea is to simply spend a lot of time in those communities. Clean up projects are huge, though, we would have to be careful to get permission and such– there are those who would be offended if we cleaned anything, you get me?

    I also thought the Financial Peace University that Kelly Stratmeyer does can be an amazing tool for outreach. If, perhaps, we can even cover the cost in some cases, it could be not only a massive help to many of those folks, but a great way to show them Jesus, their only hope out of their sin debt (I know, I know, that’s totally lame, but I mean it).

    One of the things that will be happening with the interns this summer is an emphasis on learning the demographics of our town. If you want to know what they need, ask them. We’ll obviously have to practice some discernment, but they are our best idea generators. All we have to make sure we do is to preach the Gospel in the midst of it. To forget that makes it all meaningless in the end, right?

    Honestly, there a thousand things we could probably do, but the best I can think is to be with them. That’s one of the major reasons I stayed with the church as long as I did–there were people who looked down on me and teated me like they did not want me there, but there were many more who loved on me and prayed for me unceasingly. Just be there for them, love them, pray for them. In the end, you can do all the service you want, but if you really don’t care, they won’t either. I’ve had some bad things happen, and there wasn’t always someone to be there for me. This is what they need, as Savior who is there for them. A Savior who is real, who really loves them, and shows it instead of saying it. The “Jesus Loves You” stickers don’t work. The best way to tell them Jesus loves them is to write it on your arms as you work and sacrifice and pray for them, for Jesus’ great name.

  26. Amy, obviously most of us don’t really trust God on some things or we wouldn’t have sin. As Bro. Joe mentioned, it all started when Adam & Eve chose to trust satan over God. We just have to keep going back to Him when we fail.

    We are being watched and judged but, Pastor for us to be authentic Christians don’t we need to show just how much Christ has done for us?! To show the purpose of Christ’s suffering…. To show this is where I was, BUT Christ changed me, changes me daily…. If newcomers see loving, Spirit filled Christians that are open and honest about where they came from wouldn’t that take the uppitiness, (Is that a word?) away?

    We first visited FBC because our new extended family grew-up here. We stayed because we found a Pastor that teaches God’s Word without perversion, music that praises our Savior, and people that showed His love in searching us out to welcome us week after week…. When we had a younger family and moved we looked for a church that had a faithful youth group…. I was told we don’t want to just fill our time with activities. I agree, we must DO for God, His Church, and His Glory, have a purpose for for His Glory in our activites. Are we taking any of that away or added to it if we have programs to: feed th hungery, help single parents, help all parents, help couples, help the aged, help those with addictions, help with finances, just give the unchurched a place to go that is fun, safe & in a Christian atmosphere?

    What about working more with the programs that are already in place like HOPE, CARE..?
    Would we be allowed to witness to the people as they come out?
    We could expand on what each of us do personally. Nursing home visitation, umbrella witnessing whatever.

  27. Wow, talk about inspiration
    Amy I’m sure you connected with other church members on your reply, and yes your comments made sense at least to me. I too am fairly new to this church and at times feel a need to be “guarded” as you put it, but maybe that’s fairly natural in a new environment. Most of my adult life I have spent with unchurched or nonbelievers so I too can relate with them.
    Recently I spent some time with some mature Christians who gave their heart wrenching, authentic, stories. They included addictions of all sorts, ugly sin admissions about where they came from then they told how they realized that God loves them and they could accept His grace. Their being true to themselves and honest to us is what impacted me. You’re right until we can peel back our own layers, weather poor, rich no matter what side of the tracks, we all desperately need Jesus.

  28. Just a thought from a travelin vanilla guy. The greatest conviction for me is tied to reaching outside my comfort zones. It’s easy to gather, welcome, and visit with those like “us” (whoever “us” may be), but how often do I go to those folks in the margins (between the us’s) They may be on the soccer team we coach, basketball team we coach, or baseball team our kids play on, they may be our neighbors, or even extended family. Here’s the question God has been pounding into my heart in recent weeks…To tag onto Carl Stewart’s Heartcry question “Darian, what part of “go” don’t you understand”. What part of going to these folks mentioned above don’t I/we get…I’m not speaking about “corporate” visitation (not that there’s anything wrong with that for the seinfeldians) What I am speaking about is as the body of Christ ministering daily and individually and then seeing the fruit corporately as people come to Christ. It takes being led by the Holy Spirit and then following up. It will mean sacrifice, it will mean I lay down my agenda, it will mean that we not be so busy that we don’t even have time because of all our “activities”, and it takes being willing to be inconvenienced for the glory of God. It may mean we start meeting in “community groups” to reach folks with the Gospel that might not come to our building at present.. It can take alot of forms, but for Darian Rottmann as of right now it means being obedient enough to go to folks God has burdened me to reach (2 in mind right now) or write a letter to open a door for the Gospel at a future date rather than me talking about going and talking about writing letters but never being obedient…just my $.01 ( I don’t even have $.02……)

  29. I was just going to enjoy this great discussion, but when I saw my friend Tom Clay, another former FBC Metropolis guy as am I, I thought I’d poke my head in too!

    Scripture is certainly sufficient both to save and sanctify His people. I believe that with all my heart. At the same time, I don’t think this eliminates the need to contextualize the gospel to the particular culture or cultures that we live in. We must communicate in a culturally relevant way. When churches fail to communicate the gospel and Biblical principles in a culturally relevant way, then we have failed to be missional. Yes God is sovereign but we are also responsible to be faithful!

    I just recently discovered the ministry of Matt Chandler that Kyle referenced earlier. I REALLY like that guy!

    I thank God for you all and how you have risen to the opportunity of ministering to the community through the ice storm. You’re never far from my thoughts and prayers and I so deeply appreciate the ministry of your Pastor, Bro. Joe. Thanks for your faithfulness!

    Blessings to you all!

  30. To paraphrase Leaonard Ravenhill, relying solely on expository preaching in the church without being missional is like purchasing $300 worth of fishing equipment and then fishing in your own bathtub.

    Carl Stewart

  31. This is a great discussion and I’m excited about where it is going. It is great to have Dr. Greg Dills joining us from our church plant down there in Matthews, N.C. (lol) Really, Greg it is a joy to have you involved in this conversation with us. I agree with you about Matt Chandler, God using him to challenge all of us to be culturally relevant in our preaching. Carl Stewart has a great point about the relationship between expository preaching and missional living. The fact is that you need both. Jesus is the perfect example of this. He did not just go about preaching and teaching but also living a lifestyle of servanthood, in other words, He lived missionally. The missional living of the church is what will open the door for people to hear the preaching of the Word. I am going to say more about this next week on the blog.

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