A ‘BE’ church

I’ve just got back from a church planting conference in Hungary with ReachGlobal, the mission arm of the Evangelical Free Church of America. I did a presentation on household church (I’ll put my outline in a future post) and then did an evening of Q&A with those who were interested. Steve and I presented over two days at a ReachGlobal event three years ago and it was encouraging to have many people come up to me to say that their ministry had been transformed by that time.

The title of this post comes from an interesting observation made to me on the last day. One of the missionaries commented that during the evening Q&A people had kept asking me ‘DO’ questions and I had kept giving ‘BE’ answers. In other words, they would ask how to ‘DO’ something and I would reply in terms of what we need to ‘BE’. For example, they might ask how do you ‘DO’ evangelism and I reply along the lines of needing to ‘BE’ a community centred on the mission that involves people in its shared life. Or they might ask how we ‘DO children and I would talk about the importance of ‘BEing’ a community in which they feel like they belong.

This observation helped my understand why a lot of my interactions with people go the way they do. It explains why Steve and I thought we were being very practical in Total Church, but some people say they wish it had been more practical. They are after formulae, steps, processes, actions. They want to know what to ‘DO’. But that’s not what you find in the New Testament. It’s not a question of ‘DOing’ the right things. It’s a question of ‘BEing’ the right things – it’s a question of identity. So the role of a leader is to set a culture not create a programme.

In my next post I want to make a related observation. Not only do we need to be (there’s that word again) a ‘BE’ church; we also need to be a ‘BESPOKE’ church.

6 thoughts on “A ‘BE’ church

  1. That is really helpful. It is something I have noticed you and Steve doing in books etc but not quite been able to describe to myself and others in such a sucinct way.

  2. It was Jeff V from Tacoma at the Total church conference in Sheffield who first hit me with this simple truth. Being church rather than doing church provides the focus for our approach to all the doing things. But there is a cultural and mindset cost associated with this, as the compartmentalised boundaries start falling around you and you descend into the messines of everyday day life. It then means that 24/7 church is much more natural, and allows us the freedom to ask what does a church really look like? The ought to dos are ditched and our eyes become focussed on our friends and neighbours. I’m wittering must stop.

  3. Very helpful post — Here’s the question that is raised in my mind: In light of Ephesians 4 — how do we as leaders in the church equip people to do the work of the ministry by “being” the right things?

    That’s one of the things we’re struggling through — having people change their mindset from what I do to who I am but it’s a struggle for us as leaders to help see this way of thinking shifted. I know it’s where we rely on the power of the Gospel to make that change but we still want to lead through this/equip people to make the shift. What does that look like in the Crowded House?

  4. Hi Jason, I’m not sure how you want me to answer this question of how we create a ‘be’ culture. Do you want a programme or a list of things to do?! How about starting by teaching the NT! It is everywhere! And teach on grace. And then teach on grace again. Teach people how to connect grace not just to the last day, but to the next day. My book You Can Change is a grace-centred and faith-centred approach to sanctification. That might flesh it out a bit more. The other place to look is http://www.somacommunities.org. Soma constantly emphasise four core identities upon which everything else is built

  5. Pingback: A ‘BESPOKE’ church « TIM CHESTER :: reformed spirituality and missional church

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