MINISTERING TO THE ABUSED AND GRIEVING
AS EVANGELISTIC TOOLS FOR THE MISSIONAL CHURCH
The course I am taking is a “Doctor of Ministry in the Missional Church.” There is a great movement that has been slowly speeding up now for ten years, across the Interdenominational board to bring the church back to its New Testament roots.
Most churches in North America can be categorised as “consumer” churches, where people come to church once a week to be spiritually ‘fed.’ There is nothing wrong with that, but if all the ‘feeding’ is left up to the Pastor then discipleship is very slow and often doesn’t happen at all and so we have the situation in some churches where people have been attending ‘church’ for over a quarter of a century or more but are still feeding on “spiritual milk” and are no closer to being ready to disciple others than at their baptism. Also relationships do not get developed past a surface level. Wonderful people, but just not ready or willing to ‘be sent out’ to fulfill the Great Commission, (Matthew 28).
The Missional church movement calls for committed Christians to allow themselves “to be sent” out into the community and form ‘Church’ wherever people are so that the people are ‘Church.’ This means that ‘Church’ will be that group of 15-20 or 25 people who meet in a home, or meet in the corner of a parking lot, or meet in an office, or in a pub or cafe or Tim Hortons or Starbucks. The main focus of meeting will be to be discipled, to hear each others journey, to pray together, to really get to know each other and eventually to teach up disciples that, in turn, will allow the Holy Spirit ‘to send’ them to start more groups.
The corporate gathering will be these groups coming together for celebratory picnics, worship, and other encouraging testimonial gatherings maybe once a month, or once a quarter. The Pastor will preach at these gatherings, but group leaders and participants will give testimonies that will encourage the Saints.
The Missional groups will be led by the laity, (the first leaders however, will be the pastors who have trained up laity). Once the Pastor has ‘launched’ his/her first group of laity, the pastor’s job from then on is to continue to disciple the group leaders, and continue to train up new leaders. The pastors will meet with other pastors to continue in their discipling journey. In other words, it is life-ling discipling for everyone, even the pastors.
Group leaders will meet once a week with the pastor who is encouraging and training up more ‘Church leaders.’ What is so beautiful about the Missional Church is that God gifts us with the ability to reach out to those who have been through what we have been through. In this way you have people formed into Churches of people who understand each other whether it is the local biker gange, people struggling with addictions, abuse or just everyday struggles of life. And if it is possible, group leaders are encouraged to actually live in the community that they are discipling. Most of the time this will happen, however, because God calls us to disciple ‘where we are.’
The Missional Church gatherings, however, are very strongly Family gatherings of all age groups where the children participate along with the adults. Missional Church gatherings are NOT therapy groups. This can be done separately. Any nitty gritty stuff is not for the content of the meeting, but for referral to experts while the person or persons continue to meet in the Church group that they feel so close to. As people become healed and reconciled with God, they too go forth and start more Missional Church groups.
Isn’t this wonderful! The people often meet many times in twos or threes in the week as newcomers get their ‘feet’ under them, maybe for a quick cup of tea, or a prayer, or an encouraging phone call or a meal etc. In this way true friendships are formed. Groups are taught boundaries, however, as this is all part of ‘modelling’ what being a disciple is. Christ taught by modelling and it is our lives that teach newcomers what it is to be a Christian, so this includes boundaries. This will ensure that no one person gets worn out with a needy person.
My Project concern is that it is the current church leaders who are tending to start these wonderful Missional Church groups; and it is many of these current church leaders who still have not had training in crisis intervention of the hard stuff of life. So… as much as the Missional Church Movement has the God-given potential to bring about healing and reconciliation in a way that the Traditional Church model has not, if these church leaders simply transfer their ineptness to the Missional Church movement then the deeply hurting, in that particular pastor’s area of Missional Church groups will still not find places of refuge. I am maintaining that as with the Traditional church model, only those Missional Churches where the leaders have adequate training and awareness on how to deal with abuse and grief issues will provide the place of healing and refuge that God mandates us to provide according to Isaiah 61:1-3.
Those Missional Church communities who ARE providing places of safety and refuge will be the ones to prevail AND to produce disciples after disciples after disciples just as our Lord meant it to be. God’s blessings to us all as we remain faithful to the Great Commission