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    slide05.jpgYou are church before you do church. This is one of the fueling insights of the missional church movement. This isn't a new idea...but it is pretty provocative, especially when one considers its implications. If we take Jesus at his word when he says (as recorded in John 20:21) "as the Father has sent me, I am sending you," then we realize that our being sent is the basis of our "doing" church. In oth...

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12 Practices of a new Jesus movement PDF Print Write e-mail
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 22:09

“Church planting is the most effective form of evangelism under heaven,” missiologist C. Peter Wagner once said. But is this still true today? Global nomad and missionary Andrew Jones, who works with emerging ‘Jesus movements’ around the world, suggests it’s time to rethink our missions practice, and move from ‘church as a weekly meeting in a building or a house’ towards ‘more sustainable, holistic, and measurably transformational Kingdom solutions.’



Over the past two years Jones and his family travelled to over 30 nations in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, where they met with many ‘underground’ missionary pioneers. “One of the biggest trends I observed is the shift away from planting traditional churches (pastor-building-program oriented) towards a wide range of Kingdom expressions,” Jones says.

"We would rather seed a potential garden than plant a church"

“In the USA, some of the most innovative new Christian communities did not launch or host Sunday worship services. In China, I met a young couple who have started missional enterprises in over a dozen cities, but no classical churches. In Indonesia a group had started hundreds of communities, but avoided Sunday worship services and church buildings, which have a habit of being burned to the ground in that country. Real church happens when the conditions are right, they told me. They would rather ‘seed a potential garden’ than plant a church.” 


Jones was amazed at the dynamism and commitment of young Jesus followers in Asia. One network had started almost a thousand new communities, many of them multiplying into the second and third generation. But a Sunday worship service as an evangelistic entry point for potential members, has not been part of their ministry portfolio. How do they maintain such a high level of spiritual growth? Jones observed 12 practices that have contributed to their success:

1. Bible study

The Bible studies were simple and regular. And there was a lengthy program of discovering Jesus in the gospels which took months to complete. Most who completed the study decided to follow Jesus by the end. Discipleship was based on an ‘obedience-based approach’ to the Scriptures. When the group meets again, everyone is held accountable to do what they said they were going to do, and this way the Word becomes an integral part of life. 

2. Open houses

The people were hospitable to visitors who seemed to come at any time of the day or night. Their houses were full of young people living there while their lives were being transformed. There were no buildings used for worship or church functions. Bible studies and events took place in the houses, with young people sitting on carpets and mattresses.

3. Fringe focus

The primary influx was young people from the margins, the underbelly of society and those discarded by it. Drug addicts and postmodern sub-cultures rather than mainstream folk. Most of the leaders come from these backgrounds also. 

4. Simple habits

Nothing took a lot of skill. Teaching the Bible, sharing Jesus, leading Alcoholics Anonymous-type meetings - there was no need for a charismatic superstar to attract an audience and in fact, there wasn't one. Anyone could lead after a short time of instruction. The Bible studies, for example, were based on the same pattern. After reading a passage together, they all answered 3 questions: (1) What does it say? (2) What does it say to me? (3) What I'm going to do about it? 

5. Good business products

Financial sustainability came partly from their micro-businesses. They had innovated in the production process and believed God gave revelation that is helping them produce more and better goods and in a way that blesses the environment rather than taking from it. 

6. System for rehabilitation

They had a dedicated building for rehabilitation of drug addicts and also used it for gatherings where people from every background could meet each other and build friendships. It was also a space for urban ministry folk to retreat to for refreshment.

7. Native flavor

The ministries did not smell foreign. The music they created was in part influenced by the global scene, but ‘Hillsong-free’. They did not want white foreigners to turn up and stir attention. Although they had not heard of it, the description ‘insider movement’ would probably fit. The size of the ministry was played down rather than promoted.

8. Daily rhythms

Weekly services are sometimes not enough for those struggling to walk a new path, especially coming from addictions and deeply ingrained destructive lifestyles. Meeting daily, even if for a short time, was the norm. Some did this around meals, some around Bible studies. 

9. Not outreach TO but outreach WITH others

The Christians organized the outreach events to the urban poor, and young people from many other religious backgrounds participated. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists all join in and work together. These same people would later return during the week to hang out and talk.

10. Something for the whole family

Outreach to the discarded of society involved visiting the families of those youth and attempting some reconciliation. Baptisms were generally postponed until the whole family joined in.

11. Prayer

There were no legendary all night prayer meetings like the Koreans have, but prayer was a casual part of everything they did. There were many physical healings in answer to prayer and the supernatural was accepted as normal.

12. Grace

The ministries were characterized by grace. Some people had fallen back, but launched forward again by the grace of God and were embraced back into the community. They were wonderfully generous. Being poor, they made many rich. 

The intentionality of the movement was focused on impacting people’s lives with the gospel and not on creating community or starting churches, which they saw as a natural outgrowth.

Source: Andrew Jones

 

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