Firing Missional Blanks

PB Beer Bong

I just spoke with a local Pastor in Pacific Beach. For those of you who don’t know about PB, it is a beach community in San Diego filled with surfers, lots of drugs and partying. Anyway this pastor spoke about how PB is a difficult mission field trying to reach these people who are “rebelling from their parents, the government and the church.”

Here’s what made me sad. I asked him how they were trying to reach this lost community. He answered, “We have a book store, we’re building a seniors community center and we have an event called Music Mosaics.” I asked him what ‘Music Mosaics’ was and he explained it was “high class music, choirs, organists, etc.”

Now I’m pretty curious. How many drug addict, street kids, surfers and abandoned post-college youth are they really reaching with these things? There’s got to be a time when many traditional mainline churches decide, let’s stop trying to reach more of us. Atheists debates don’t bring in non-christians, organists don’t get the homeless youth excited, X days of purpose programs will be rejected by a spiritually bancrupt, yet spiritually open community in this next generation. Am I wrong?

  • Bruce Chant

    January 20, 2005, 11:08 pm

    No you’re not Drew.
    Sadly there is too often a tendency to make no attempt to examine the social context in which a church exists in order to bring the Gospel.
    ‘High class music’ outreachs aint going to cut it in PB, but neither will a lot of church’s attempts to “outreach”. I have a friend who shut down a mum’s playgroup which had been running for six years (he’s only been there 3) and has the same 6 mum’s meeting in it! It was a club mascarading as evangelism.

  • D. Goodmanson

    January 21, 2005, 11:01 am

    One dialogue we have at our church is ‘healthy’ vs. ‘functional’. Our desire is to create healthy, missional, growing, reproducing, God honoring small groups/outreach. Functional only serve a purpose.

  • Bruce Chant

    January 21, 2005, 6:09 pm

    Definitely church “health” has become a popular means by which to review a church’s ‘progress’ (as opposed to size, functionality). I think the issue is often one of stewardship – how are we bringing most glory to God through the gifts, resources, people, opportunities God has blessed us with?

    Drew, have you heard of the Natural Church Development (Christian Schwarz) tool? Like any tool, it’s a tool but it’s quite good and seeks to measure overall church health.

  • D. Goodmanson

    January 21, 2005, 6:24 pm

    Never heard of it. What’s your experience with it?

  • Bruce Chant

    January 23, 2005, 9:32 pm

    We used it in my previous church where I was an elder. Like any tool, it has pros and cons. Basically, there is a body of work behind it into researching the characteristics of healthy churches, regardless of tradition or denom, but who held to a fairly othodox set of beliefs. It was distilled down to 7 or 8 characteristics by which the church through member / leadership surveying gains a set of scores. The point being that you then work on the lowest score (our was Gift Oriented Ministry) over a period of 12 months, reassess and continue. There’s a ton of literature available on it which was interesting to read. It’s fairly thorough but is probably better for established churches who need a more objective measure of assessment than church plants where the life cycle is bit easier to recognise.

  • Bruce Chant

    January 23, 2005, 9:39 pm

    Seeing that picture reminded me of something that happened here in Perth recently. A bunch of young guys devised a motorised pump which pumped a quantity of beer into mouth of the game participant. Sounds like a bit of fun, except one of the guys couldn’t handle the force of the beer pump and the force split out his throat causing a severe septic infection which almost killed him! Almost one for the Darwin awards…