The heart of this book looks at the distinctive passions and practices of missional churches. It is based on a two-year study of 200 churches from a variety of denominations and geographic regions. Milfred Minatrea is the director of the Missional Church Center for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
One might say the missional church is a new kind of church, but Minatrea would say that it is some two thousand years old. It is reclaiming the intent for which Christ established His church. Yet the missional church is not a first-century church; it is a twentieth century church committed to use every means available to accomplish God’s missional purpose on earth. The measure of a missional church is the transformational impact of its member’s lives in their world. Their influence results in new followers of Christ, new communities of faith developing. They are reproducing communities—followers resulting in others following Christ, leaders producing new leaders, cells expanding new cells, and churches starting new churches. It is impossible to separate the individual from the corporate endeavor. The church is what its members are.
In this book, Minatrea advocates for this missional church: a reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim his kingdom in their world.
Most ecclesiological writings focus on structures and strategies, and these are important concerns. However, the primary focus must be upon spirituality. But even that is not the end in itself. It simply reminds us that there is a proper order to ask our questions:
• First . . . ask a spiritual question: “What does God desire for our church? What is on his heart?”
• That should prompt a strategic question: “What would he have us to do, as individuals and as a body?”
• Only then can you ask: “How should we structure our ministry to best accomplish those strategies?”
Shaped by God’s Heart is a pragmatic observation of actual churches on mission, learning and growing, taking chances, being a new kind of church.
Reviewed by Jim Fann, EFCA church health director.
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