Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                                 June 15, 2009
Jesus' Style of Ministry
My Reflections
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Dear ,
I'm perpetually asking myself, "Trav, why do you do what you do?" It's a great question because we humans often get trapped in forms that serve either faulty or no function at all.
Matt_RedFor this reason, my writing is often philosophical...as in "philosophy of ministry." And as a seminary prof, let me assure you most seminarians haven't thought nearly enough about the why of ministry (I know, that's not much of an assurance!). Frankly, I'm convinced just about anyone can produce a crowd (just offer something free or bring in a cool Christian recording artist). But that's not the goal, is it? No, it's about making reproducing disciples, the kind that press into and further the kingdom of God.
But this week, I'm getting exceedingly practical.
QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: What's one practical tool we can use to be a missional people of God?
Jesus' Style of Ministry
Excerpted from Sharing Faith by Thomas H. Groome
Sharing_FaithWhatever approach Christians take to any function of ministry - word, witness, worship, welfare - should be at least consistent with how Jesus went about fulfilling his mission. In his historical praxis, I believe we can detect a consistent style of dynamic, a particular way of "being with" people that marked his ministry. It is evident in many Gospel incidents but is even more noticeable if we stand back from particular examples to get the overall impression of how he went about it. No interpreter can claim to present an exhaustive or unbiased description of something as nebulous as the ministry style of Jesus; clearly the "lens" I bring to it is the commitments and dynamics of a shared praxis approach. Of the overall commitments reflected in the style of Jesus, three in particular stand out for me: (1) he took the initiative for a personal "presence with" people without exception; (2) he empowered people to act out of their own truth and freedom as agent-subjects; (3) he called people into partnership and community (1991:303).
My Reflections 
When people think of a church being missional they have a tendency to think about how a church can be more evangelistic. Although that is part of the picture as God's mission is to seek and save the lost, we sell the missional aspect of God short if that's all we think about. To be missional is much broader in scope; it encompasses the totality of God's mission, God's redemption. So, not only are we talking evangelism, we're talking about preparing for Christ's return, caring for one another, taking care of the earth, raising our children, instructing young Christ-followers, and so forth. Missional, therefore, is about pressing into the totality of what God is doing throughout the earth.
How, then, can a group of Christ-followers become more missional? Here's one practical and very important example. In Thomas Groome's vernacular, it's called "shared praxis." Shared, of course, means We're gonna do this together. Praxis means Let's reflect on our situation and press forward in a meaningful way. For followers of Jesus, pressing ahead meaningfully should mean doing something in ways consistent with the Bible.
Thomas Groome suggests five "movements" to bring about a shared praxis. Paraphrasing, they are:
  1. Group awareness
  2. Group understanding
  3. Bring it to the Bible/Jesus
  4. Talk about it
  5. Group response/action

What's this look like? Not long ago I was studying an organic church expression and they had a "situation." The group had become aware that someone part of their gathering was about to be homeless. So, they talked about it, candidly, seeking understanding about the situation. Then, they brought it to the Bible (Jesus). Taking turns, they read relevant portions of Scripture aloud, talking about how Jesus would have them handle the situation. Finally, after about two hours of thoughtful discussion, they came to a God-directed conclusion, a group response. Then, they acted. As God's "hands and feet" they pressed into the missio Dei, the mission of God on this planet.

Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table