Book review blog...“For too many, they love their preferences and their strategies more than they love the people whom God has called them to reach”
The first major theme presented in this book by Putman and Stetzer is the realization that this world has grown smaller and that the global community is now across the street from where you live and work. Glocal is the word that is used to describe this throughout the book and combines the words global and local to reflect this thought.
Another theme that is prevalent throughout this book focuses on discipleship and the journey that a person takes as they become a believer in Christ. This journey begins prior to conversion and should involve the local community of faith as this individual moves from being an observer to a participant to a disciple. At the point a person receives Christ in their journey it becomes a point of celebration for the church and a significant milestone in the task of discipleship.
A third major theme that is intertwined in the chapters is the task of contextualization of the local culture that envelops the current mission field of the church. The phrase that is used is to exegete your community in order to understand how to take the gospel to the unchurched in the local environment. This theme is reinforced through the use of examples when a large megachurch methodology is blindly used in another church that is vastly different in culture. It is a common mistake to think that a church can simply duplicate what another church has done and believe they will have the same level of success hence the need to exegete your community.
MAIN IDEA The main idea is breaking the missional code so that the lost can be reached for Jesus Christ. Chapter one begins by defining what breaking the code means in the context of this book. It is the task of breaking through any and all cultural barriers present in the lives of the unchurched that blinds them from understanding the gospel message (chap. 1, under “The Emerging Glocal Context”). It is an understanding that there are things seen and unseen that are present within a community of people that are unique in their characteristics that present obstacles to the church and the gospel message (chap. 1, under “The Emerging Glocal Context”). Every community is different and carries with it an inherent set of values and traditions. “Breaking the code is about seeing the unchurched through three different sets of lenses that include people groups, population segments, and cultural environments” (chap. 1, under “Ethnic Diversity”).
KEY PRINCIPLES Glocal This key principle helps the reader to understand that to travel around the world can take place by crossing the street. It is suggested that the United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world and that people from all over the world live here. The new reality is that America is now global and local with hundreds of different languages and ethnicities that live together (chap. 1, under “A New Reality”). Understanding this principle thoroughly will reflect in the actions of the local church as they seek to adapt and change to meet the spiritual and physical needs of those who are without Christ. One Size Does Not Fit All Cultures are different from one country to another country around the world but they are also different within the country and can be even further defined within a city. The franchise mentality may work fine for the corporate world but it does not work as successfully in becoming a missional church. One size does not fit all and what works in California or New York may or may not work in the context of a church in a different region or even in the same city. The principle to learn is that God uses methods that are unique to a time and a place for the local church and the community that they serve. A better way to process new innovations for reaching people with Christ is to: “Listen to God’s calling, exegete your community, examine ways God is working in similar communities, finding God’s unique vision for your church, and adjusting that vision as you learn the context” (chap. 2, under “A New Breed”). It is often challenging to come up with creative and new ways of reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ but by spending time with the Heavenly Father, upholding a high view of Scripture, and a commitment to reach people where they are in life is a step towards breaking the missional code (chap. 2, under “Conclusion”). Reaching The Unchurched Means Change It is absurd to think that change cannot be a part of the equation when it comes to reaching people for Christ. “For too many, they love their preferences and their strategies more than they love the people whom God has called them to reach” (chap. 1, under “The Emerging Glocal Context”). Change will and does happen all around us everyday and those changes often find their way into the blind spots of the local church. The church has moved into a crisis management mode of operation instead of getting ahead of the changes. One thing is inevitable and that is change will occur and for the majority of changes we are not in control but what we can control is our response (chap. 5, under “Transitions to Missional Ministry”). Everyone Is a Missionary The principle that every Christian is a missionary is the foundation of a disciple of Jesus Christ. John 17:18 states in the English Standard Version, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” In a very simple translation a disciple has been missioned or sent into the very places that people have ended up. God has appointed everyday people to go and make disciples. The idea of “go” is as you are going in your everyday life we are to be sensitive to the personal nudges from God and respond in obedience to what He is asking us to do (chap. 9, under “Go”). God desires us to be on mission with Him and understanding that He sends us out into our own unique mission field helps us to grasp hold of the truth that life is not about the individual but about Jesus Christ. It is not about our preferences or what we like or dislike but it is all about serving God in the context of being faithful to the mission. The church is the only thing that will outlast everything in this world so why is there a struggle to march forward with a hope that will prevail against the very gates of hades (chap. 3, under “We Are Sent”)?
One application to the local leadership of the church is to complete a community needs assessment in an attempt to completely understand the mission opportunities in their local context. Also a need to understand the culture from within the church is necessary as the leader compares it to the culture of the neighborhood, the city, and the region that the church is located. The churches location is by no accident and understanding that being missional includes our communities is paramount to the execution of the strategy of making disciples of all nations. To love God means that you will love people and that love must break through the cultural barriers present regardless of the cost.
Stetzer, Ed and David Putman. Breaking the Missional Code:Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 2006.