Friday, September 12, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code – Ed Stetzer & David Putnam

© 2006 B&H, Nashville

I had been letting this book gather dust on my shelf for a bit over a year. I purchased it because of my lack of expertise in the missional conversation. Knowing that Ed Stetzer is the guru in charge of research over at LifeWay, I expected lots of statistics, and that in itself made me pick up book after book ahead of this one. Anyway, I finally took this one down, and am glad that I finally got around to it. Not only is it much more than just a repetition of statistical fodder, but it is an inspirational piece in its own right. Adding the voice of David Putnam to that of Stetzer brings a conversational feel to this encouragement for churches to move into the realm of being a missionary to the community where they are planted.

To be fair, Stetzer and Putnam are actually writing from their respective perspectives as experienced church planters. The advice they render is tried and true, and it is scriptural too. The first part of the book is concerned with the philosophy behind what it takes to break the code. The authors describe code-breaking churches, and the leaders who compel them to break the code.

Simply put, the idea of breaking the code is that believers, churches and church leaders must examine their community to discover what it takes to reach the unreached with the gospel. Within the book readers are encouraged to put aside their personal preferences, their comforts, and their ideas to reach their community for Christ. Within the pages of the book you will find the seeds of Putnam’s call to “live like Jesus lived; love like Jesus loved; and leave what Jesus left behind.” He expands this theme in the follow-up book Breaking the Discipleship Code.

The closing chapters of the book are the more invaluable part, though. It is in the last few chapters that the authors give some practical help in how to go about breaking the code. While they do not give a step by step process that everyone must go through to build a missionary church, they do advise us of some of the important components necessary to breaking out of the rut that the church seems to find herself in. There is not a formula that will work one place or another, but a principle of doing what scripture admonishes in order to build the kingdom as we are called to do.

Part of the advice given includes examples from successful efforts to break the code. Accompanying these examples (Saddleback Church led by Rick Warren, for instance) are reminders that your community is not the community that this model worked in. Warning—don’t treat Midwestern blue-collar workers like “Saddleback Sam.”

If you have been contemplating reading this book, go ahead. Don’t put it off for a couple of years, but be ready to be challenged by it’s content. And take along the four out of five reading glasses that I gave it with you. This is an invaluable resource when you are trying to be the kingdom builder that God has called you to be.

Benjamin Potter, September 12, 2008

No comments:

Popular Posts