Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Missional church in Auckland

"Missional" church is a trendy term (or maybe it isn't as trendy as last year - it is hard to keep up with trends). When people talk about missional church, they usually mean a church that is approaching ministry in a Western nation with the mindset of a "missionary". It doesn't assume that it has a right to exist and be heard, it realises that the gospel needs to be translated into the language and culture of the people, it aims to be an alternative community and not mimic the society it lives in, it is determined to bless the community it lives in. All that can be an excuse to make church fun for Gen X Christians who are burnt out by programmed church. But it can be an important paradigm shift.

I saw a great example of real missional church in Auckland last week. Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a about 10 years old. It has focussed on a defined area in South Auckland and a community with high rates of unemployment, broken families, alcohol abuse and crime. It is the kind of place where kids are quickly left behind in the education system. Redeemer have spent the last ten years building relationships in that community. Over the time they have built real trust in the community and from that have been able to talk about Jesus and show how he makes a difference. They have been part of setting up a pre-school and an after school homework club that runs every school day. There community centre provides a mid-wife service for the community as well as legal advice. Amidst all this they talk about Jesus (a lot!) and they pray and the Lord has used them to make a difference.

I was in Auckland with a bunch of students from PTC Sydney as our annual 'mission'. It was great to see what was happening at Redeemer and share in it for a week. As I've thought about now that I'm back, it dawned on me that missional church is hard work. It is long term investment in relationships for the sake of the gospel, not funky music, stylish graphics and great coffee. (In fact on the evidence of Redeemer, great coffee doesn't get much of a run in mission in South Auckland). Missional church is often paired with being incarnational. If the incarnation is our model, then we can expect mission to be hard, painful and even deadly.

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