Porterbrook Cincinnati Blog

Porterbrook | Missional Community Life Units 4-6


Alright everybody...you ought to be working your way through units 4 through 6. 

Unit 4 - Missional Intentionality: "ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality." 

Unit 5 - Missional Rhythms: story-formed, listen, celebrate, bless, eat, recreate.

Unit 6 - Missional hospitality: Do not start a hospitality ministry in your church; open your home.



I love Kristin's list as well! And Josh, your idea to spend post-dinner time on the front porch/in the front yard is great.

I agree that meals can be a great way to develop relationships. And it's something we're already doing (just have to make a little more). It's so intimidating to me to ask non-Christians over for a meal....maybe because it is intimate? Or by asking I'm putting myself out there (with the potential for rejection)? But with it being warm and grilling season here, it seems easier...inviting neighbors to come sit on the porch and have a burger and a beer. It can be way more casual.

Kristin - love the list. Some great practical ideas.

Jerry - We may be talking past each other a little here. It seems to me like you've seized on the idea of "entering into the community's celebrations," but divorced that from the idea of displaying the gospel as a counterculture. I think this section is encouraging both. They quote Newbigin throughout (who is great on this). Essentially Newbigin argues that as the gospel comes into any culture or subculture and affirms some things and rebukes others. The trick, of course, is discerning what to affirm and what to rebuke (which is why Biblical study and doctrinal fidelity is so important). I'm confident the writers of this material are not trying to affirm worshipping a Buddhist god, nor the Hindu practice of widow suicide.

However, you might think about the Hudson Taylor example with the China Inland Mission. Western missionaries had very little success in preaching the gospel (or making friends) when they dressed in a coat and tie and looked the part of European colonialist. When Taylor started to dress in indigenous Chinese clothing, and participate in the life of the community, he was invited into the culture, into Chinese lives, and developed a platform to lead literally thousands of Chinese people to Christ.

I just wanted to share that we had a really good discussion at the women's gathering the other night when I asked for practical ways to be hospitable with neighbors and work mission into our everyday lives. Specifically, I was looking for simple ways to invite people into my life without actually having to cook a meal for them. Here are some suggestions I received:

1. Organize the day so I can go for walks when people are actually outside (so, 6pm, instead of 10am).
2. Invite the other moms on the street over for playdates.
3. Meet a friend from New City at the park, and then I'll have a partner/moral supporter for being bold with people.
4. Don't assume that people I meet aren't lonely and don't want another friend
5. Invite the neighbors to come over to the front lawn for popscicles.
6. Smile, make eye contact and say "hi".
7. Bake cookies with Eleanor and bring them to neighbors; kids are always a good excuse to greet people.
8. Offer the mailman a bottle of water.
6. Pray.

Jerry, I agree we are misguided if all we do is join in the revelry of pagan parties but for me the thrust is in the context of that statement, particularly 2 sentences later: "within the community's celebration, we look for ways to serve, redeem, bring gospel light, and so on."

Jesus flipped over tables in the Temple, yes, but I don't know that I will ever have the wisdom and perspective to be able to choose when I ought to flip tables or send people to the gallows.

In and among the world, but not of the world, and co laborers with Christ to redeem the world.

OK, if nobody else wants to play with Rev Josh & me...

I have no theological problems with our church at mile post 937 passing out water to a bunch of crazy people trying to kill themselves. However, the interaction with the Buddist friend covered at p 43 of the materials leaves something to be desired. Specifically any intent to convert this Buddhist who has no belief in any concept of a creator God, much less a belief in Christ. Apparently it's enough if the Buddhist have a moral code.

Another contemporary example would be the Hindus in NYC who have the numbers to have street parades behind one of their elephant headed gods. On p 45 of Porterbrook we are advised to "enter into their celebrations [celebrating a different god] and do so unto God." That gives me very little guidance.

From history we get a somewhat view when the British Christians first came into India. Among the quaint Hindu customs was suttee, the burning alive of India widows on funeral pyres of their husbands. The judgmental Christians put up gallows at the funeral sites & strung up every male responsible. Thus ended the established Hindu practice.

At one time we Christians thought we had something to teach other religions & just didn't "enter into their celebrations."

One more thought. I found the Exercise on 37 to really helpful with regard to the concept of Missional Intentionality. Rather than create more to do, what am I already doing that I can invite people into (both Christians and non-Christians).

One simple thing I'm going to try and implement this summer is spending more post-dinner time on our front porch (and yard) rather than in the back yard (or in front of the TV). When we do this, we inevitably talk to our neighbors and deepen relationships.

Do any of you have specific applications from this exercise? Anything already going on in your schedule that you can include other people in? Or adjust so that you'll more likely encounter friends and neighbors?

Okay, I'll bite on Jerry's observations, which I think are intentionally provocative to get the discussion going here. A couple of quick thoughts.

Re: Unit 4 on Missional Intentionality, I think Walter Wood at NCCC is exactly correct: most people come to know God through multiple exposures to God's Word and God's people. Newbigin's idea of the church being the "hermenuetic of the gospel" is exactly correct, and I've seen several people trust Christ over the years only after months and months of relationship building. Even now there are people hanging around at New City who are not Christians, but are interested both in the gospel and where the gospel is being demonstrated (Christian community). This is all part of what it means to be the body of Christ: very literally we embody the gospel.

Re: Unit 5, I think theological alarms would be warranted. That is, if we are meant to smash the box on page 43 and the idea on p. 45 together. However, I don't think that's the intent. One is a testimonial of someone developing a relationship with a Buddhist friend. The other is an encouragement to participate in the celebrations of our city (the Flying Pig comes to mind as a good example of this).

Re: Unit 6, I actually disagree with Jerry here. I think they do a pretty good job making the case that much of Jesus' evangelistic opportunities were intentionally sought over meals. What do the rest of you all think? Compelling case, or overstepping?

For my part, I think it's hard to overstate the importance of shared meals for developing community. And for reaching out to other people. The concept of hospitality is built into the warp and woof of both Old Testament and New Testament spirituality. It's interesting that Paul in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1 lists hospitality as one of the key qualifications for being an elder.

OK, I will open the bidding.

Unit 4 on Missional Intentionality correctly notes that sharing the Bible has to be the end in mind when we relate to people. Probably we aren't going to stand out as 22% more sweet & loveable than the general population & convert non believers that way.

Unit #5 on Missional Rhythms sets off theological alarm bells on page 43 with the box on the Buddhist friend & particularly at the end of page 45 on our need to "enter into their celebrations [of a different god] and do so unto God." Which produces images of singing "Kum-by-ya" around the campfire Muslim suicide bombers. The latter who know their faith when too often we don't.

Units 5 & 6 overplay a good card hand of ministry through eating with unbelievers. Not a bad tactic though it has no more divine mandate than Jesus going to the home of the wee little man Zaccheus thereby setting the model for Mormons & Jehovah's Witnesses. Whatever works.

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.


Join us Sunday at 

9a & 10:45a