Monday, August 18, 2008

the externally focused church

i recently completed rusaw's and swanson's book: the externally focused church, and found it to be a thought provoking read. it's published by group, which usually puts out quality stuff.

i was drawn to the title because of my home mission board days with the with the old sbc. back in the day (pre fundamentalist insanity) that denomination had home missionaries who were taught to do what was called csm (chrisitan social ministries). i was one of them, and as a home missionary i was privileged to give leadership to a center in the inner-city of indianapolis, where we did emergency food and clothing, offered acoa groups and the like. we also started a church from the ministry of the center, which was the most difficult task i ever attempted.

anyway, the book even by title appealed to me because of my past, and because the church where i now labor has a heart for the poor and those in need, which doesn't mean we've arrived, far from it, but it does mean some neat things are going on.

now back to the book [which was the reason for this post]. the thoughts in this book go along with the ideas i have recently been surfacing about the incarnational church. the danger with the current book is their emphasis on programs. anyway, several ideas they surfaced are worth repeating and thinking through:

the characteristics of an externally focused church
  • inwardly strong but outwardly focused
  • integrate good deeds and the good news
    • no false dichotomy between meeting social needs and sharing the good news
  • seek to be salt and light in the community
  • they would be missed by the community if they left
    • the most penetrating question of all
questions the book offers:
  • Whose lives are different because of this church?
  • Are we limited by our size, denomination, or location?
  • How do we deploy our resources?
  • What we teaching our children?
  • What must be done to show our love?