Riding on Coattails

About two years ago I was sitting in a Leadership Network, multi-site collaborative where church consultant and author Reggie McNeal was our guest presenter.  One pushback towards the 20 multisite pastors present was their tendency to go into a region and try to start a movement, versus finding out where God was already moving, and then joining Him there.

I loved this concept, but never really understood how it could actually work until recently.  About a month ago I was accepted into a year-long leadership training and civic collaborative of my city called Leadership Akron.  As I have just started this process of connecting with other city leaders and gaining deeper insight to my city’s initiatives, it has become apparent that many of their desires to redeem the city are foundationaly biblical (i.e. feeding and housing the poor, educating the underprivileged, being better stewards of our environment, etc.).

It than became clearer to me.  As I have been thinking a lot about church planting lately, and the need to create an exciting and passionate vision, what if that vision is already developed for us? What if our sovereign, all-powerful God already has a plan for the city and has been establishing it through whatever resources He desires (whether these resources are church or unchurched)?  Is He not in control of the nations and government?  Won’t He see His plans through no matter what?

In his book, Threshold of the Future, Riddell remarks:

One of the great discoveries of the twentieth-century theology has been the “missio dei.”  This is the understanding that the mission of God precedes and creates the church.  The church is invited to respond and participate, but it neither possesses nor controls the mission.  The Spirit is at work in the world, drawing the world toward Christ; actively luring people who have no contact with the institutional church (118).

Could a church dedicate itself to unleash The Gospel in both word and deed within its community, but ensure part of that process is the partnering with its city’s initiatives “in the name of Jesus?”  Is this approach too “social gospel” and unchurched, or is it responding to and participating in the invitation of The Spirit’s current work?

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~ by Dave Smith on September 12, 2009.

4 Responses to “Riding on Coattails”

  1. As I have just started this process of connecting with other city leaders and gaining deeper insight to my city’s initiatives, it has become apparent that many of their desires to redeem the city are foundationaly biblical (i.e. feeding and housing the poor, educating the underprivileged, being better stewards of our environment, etc.).

    Heresy!

    Don’t you know that God only works through the institutional church (and usually only the one that I’m currently a member of!!!!)!!!!

    *wink*

  2. I know. I am a bad person!

  3. This is great Dave. Press into it with eyes wide open.

    I just started following your blog and I enjoy reading your thoughts … almost as much as I always enjoyed talking face to face.

    Grace and Peace,
    Jim

  4. Thanks Jim!

    Great to hear from you and definitely respect your thoughts on all of this as you have vast experience in this area.

    Any other advice would be great!

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