I’m currently at a missional church leadership conference at Fuller Theological Seminary. The symposium has a host of resource speakers, all influential in the missional conversation: Alan Roxburgh, Mark Branson, Eddie Gibbs, Walt Kallestad, Scott Cormode, and others. There are six of us from North Fresno Church. The beauty of this conference is that it is not a typical set of keynote addresses from a slate of experts. Each of the hosts is committed to creating a conversation in which we resource each other rather than look to the experts for their solutions to our ministry problems.
There are two goals for the conference:
- To create a learning environment in which we discover together (a great quote from Roxburgh: “We learn best from one another, BUT, we don’t want to learn from one another” (implying we like experts to tell us what to do))
- To learn from real, lived narratives of the congregations represented (the conference is limited to 75 people and every church here brought at least one case study for discussion – case studies will be the primary tool for discovery and learning)
We had a valuable time with Walt Kallestad, senior pastor of Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona, as he shared his experience of pastoring a megachurch following an attractional model. There came a point when he was broken, frustrated and confused, wondering what he was doing wrong in spite of thousands of attendees. As he said, “something was missing.” Walt told us of a time where he sat in the back of his congregation tired and weeping, knowing that he had led the church down a road of consumerism and professionalism. Everything was apparently working at it’s technical best; people were coming to Christ and growing as disciples, yet his community was not being transformed, nor was he being transformed by his community. A few memorable quotes:
- Providing spiritual goods and services is not sustainable or biblical
- Consumers will consume you (the pastor)
- I would spend more time looking for Chicken Soup for the Soul stories than letting the word of God change me
Alan Roxburgh led us in a discussion of technical vs. adaptive change. Technical challenges refer to those that are met with known, tested and predictable answers. These are situations that have been encountered numerous times and require common responses. Adaptive challenges refer to those situations that present new dilemmas; this is territory that has not been traveled before. Adaptive change requires not the predefined answers of unengaged experts, but the hard work of discernment by those who are impacted by the adaptive challenge (i.e. the congregation). The important warning that comes from this discussion: adaptive challenges cannot be met with technical solutions. One of the great mistakes of the contemporary church is trying to solve the emerging issues of a post-Christian context with the same old systems and programs (but trying to do them bigger, harder and better).
At dinner time the six of us from North Fresno Church visited the Door of Hope. This transitional residence for eight homeless families is a remarkable testimony to a holistic gospel. I’m broken every time I visit this wonderful home. This is real Christian community that many of us will never know or understand. Read a previous blog here.
Krystal (Children's Ministry), Tim (Worship), Tim Peters (Door of Hope director), James (Lead Pastor)
Ryan (Youth Ministry), Loren Dubberke (Community Ministry)