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Can Your Church be Missional and Attractional?

18th October 2016
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This article reflects a tension with which many Baptist Churches grapple. Our BUV Mission Catalyst and Church Health & Capacity Development Teams exist to support Victorian Baptist Churches to be more missional.

Karina Kreminski had a conversation with a few friends recently where this dichotomy came up yet again; Can we be both missional and attractional?

It seems like this is still a question that practitioners are wrestling with and I think that is a good thing. It’s not a simple question to answer but here is an initial thought to start discussion.

To think about this, maybe we need to ask two things; firstly, what do you think is the purpose of the church? Secondly, how would you then organise the church around this purpose?

To answer the first question, we need to think about who God is since he is the creator of the church and establishes the purpose. God is purposeful, intentional and missional. This is because God is love and the love of God always extends outwards rather than focuses in on itself. God created a world, people and gave them a mission; to take care of and steward the earth. God called one man, Abraham, to be a blessing to the families of the earth. We also see that God creates a nation, Israel to be a light to the nations. Ultimately God revealed his missionary heart when he came to us in the form of a human, for the sake of the world. And now, God has called a group of people who are in Christ, called out of darkness into his light in order to proclaim the marvellous and might deeds of God. This is the church. Mission seems then, to be not a compartment but an essential quality in God and we can even see this missionary nature like a thread woven in the story of God as portrayed in the bible.

Missional is not a fad word or a concept without theological weight. Biblical scholar Chris Wright in his magnum opus The Mission of God writes;

“The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations, “life, the universe and everything”, and with its centre, focus, climax and completion in Jesus Christ. Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgently than some. Mission is, in that much- abused phrase, “what it’s all about”.

The church essentially then is the expression of a missionary God who defines his church. The church is the instrument that God uses to accomplish his mission. We are outward oriented rather than inward oriented.

That does not mean that we cannot be attractive. 

There is nothing wrong with making sure that our church services are welcoming, our preaching is good and any programs that we run are helpful. There is nothing wrong with inviting people to come to our church gatherings and small groups. Christianity is supposed to be attractive. Jesus said that as we let our light shine through our good works people will glorify the Father (Matthew 5:16).

To answer the second question, how would we organise the church if we believe that its purpose is to be externally oriented? It means that we would make mission the “organising principle” of the church. It means that our goal is not our own edification but everything we are and do is for the sake of others because we reflect a missionary God.

So all of our attractive programs, events and activities must be organised around this purpose. Our gatherings have the purpose of encouraging and equipping God’s people to be on his mission. Our gatherings, while they bring us comfort must never simply rest there. George Hunsberger, another theological heavyweight, puts this well;

“The church is the bearer to all the nations of a gospel that announces the kingdom, the reign and the sovereignty of God…it is not meant to call men and women out of the world into a safe religious enclave but to call them out in order to send them back as agents of God’s kingship”

So missional does not marginalise the church gathering, however, it does reorient the purpose of the gathering. We gather in order to be sent back out into the world. It is never solely for our benefit. So if we the church ask people to “come to us” it is for the purpose ultimately, of sending people out again into the world to live for the sake of others as Jesus did. 

However, if our primary identity and function as the Church is for the sake of church members, we have a problem. If most people are primarily searching for a church to belong to which has good preaching, an attractive worship style and effective programs, rather than primarily a place where discipleship for the sake of others is practiced, we are in trouble. This sadly shows perhaps that the false narrative of consumerism threading our culture is still trumping the narrative of the reign of God which tells a story of cruciformity, radical discipleship and service for the sake of others.

Our responsibility as church leaders is not to pick paradigms, structures and models that are pragmatic, give “results” or make people comfortable, though these things are not always contrary to the reign of God. We are not owners but stewards of God’s church, so as a leader it’s worth wrestling with those two questions;

What do you think is essentially the purpose or nature of the church? Secondly, how would you then organise the church around this purpose?

This article is by Karina Kreminski and appeared on her blog. It is reposted with permission. You can read more from Karina here

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Violence Against Women – Dowry Related Abuse

13th October 2016
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Our BUV is a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) union of churches. As we consider how we create safe spaces for those who are victims of Family Violence, we need to give special consideration to other cultures where particular customs and attitudes to women create environments of abuse.

The story below is by Dr Ree Bodde from ‘Think Prevent’ the Victorian Anglican initiative to combat and prevent Family Violence. Think Prevent is committed to being an active bystander against discrimination, sexism, sexual abuse and violence whether at home, on the sports field, at work, in houses of worship or out with friends, family, colleagues or workmates. You can learn more and find some great resources from Think Prevent here.

A Dinka (Southern Sudanese ethnic group) riddle poses that “If you were crossing a river with your cow and wife and there is danger of drowning and you can save only one of them, which one would you save? The answer is “that you save the cow because with it you can marry another woman.”

The practice of dowry (bride price) though seldom discussed, flourishes across certain cultures in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia.  Dowry related abuse toward women and children is a problem that has existed for some time. Recently, law makers and practitioners have begun tackling this social problem impacting families and communities. 

A Sudanese faith leader recently explained to me the logic that informs dowry “a daughter has been brought up by her family and is their source of income. The only property parents have is their daughter. You give away your daughter for dowry and then you are financially set,” he said.

Another spoke of a direct connection between dowry and domestic abuse.  “In paying for dowry,” he said, “a wife is the husbands property and can beat her for not being good at chores, for answering back, asking for financial support.” He added, “wives under the dowry custom become a slave to the husband’s family, so that even if the husband dies, the wife cannot remarry without the consent of the husband’s family. "

In a visit to a South East Melbourne faith community earlier in the year, I was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn that 3 women had been murdered as a result of dowry-related violence over the last 5 years.   

Some men’s willingness to break the silence about dowry-related abuse against women and girls is significant as it embodies the fundamental recognition that it is a problem overwhelmingly for which men are responsible.

Men have a moral obligation to change attitudes and behaviours that are negative towards women and girls. Specifically, that females are property and, replace these with norms of respect and equality.  

While some men are part of the problem, all men are part of the solution.

Dowry and the ownership of women by men is not unique to South Sudanese culture. Indian women face similar issues, where this is common practice and where women and girls are vulnerable to culturally sanctioned exploitation and abuse. See recent media here

For help or information regarding domestic violence, call the Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732, or visit

Lifeline: 13 11 14

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Upcoming Events

15 OCT
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Safe Church Awareness Workshop - Bulleen

Presented By: BUV

Safe Church Awareness Workshops are interactive, awareness raising workshops covering Christian foundations of safe ministry, duty of care, vulnerable people and child protection (abuse prevention), due diligence in relation to recruitment and supervision of all church leaders and the management of program risks.

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21 Oct
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October Gathering - Nourish and PSW

Presented By: BUV

Nourish is a day for all pastors and spouses to be enriched through messages and stories, fellowship and connections. This October the these is "Facing Transition - Learning from others". 10am - 3pm at Werribee Baptist church.

Professional Standards Topic : Practical ethical wisdom in ordinary pastoral dilemmas, facilitated by David Devine. 3:45pm-5:15pm at Werribee Baptist Church.

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