I attended a day with author and missionary Hugh Halter. I have read several of his books. I discovered him first when I read the book “And”. At the time I was involved in what we called “forming missionaries for the 21st Century”. I was convinced that the ‘attraction’ model of church was no longer working as it had to reach the culture. As I read authors like Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost I came to see hope in the idea of recovering the idea of a missionary church. This missionary model emphasizes the equipping role of organized church efforts so that all the saints see themselves as missionaries sent to live outside the church walls, living out the good news of God’s Kingdom. “And” while insisting that this missionary emphasis is necessary illustrates that such a movement can be successfully launched from existing churches.
Halter suggest, via a venn diagram, that there are three distinct and indispensable facets of Christian discipleship and that we ought to organize ourselves to accomplish these three things. The goal is movement and particularly movement to the area where the three overlap. The two facets in the lower section of the diagram represent horizontal relationships and the uppermost represents the vertical relationship with God.
People can find their way to belonging by joining in the mission of demonstrating (making tangible) the Kingdom of God through acts of mercy and kindness. They can find their way into missionary activity through vital relationship with a loving and fun bunch of missionaries. There is no easy ‘one size fits all’ method of entrance into the Kingdom. As the King is exalted and spoke about folks will realise that both the belonging and missionary movements hinge on a relationship with Jesus our King.
I was surprised at this conference that so many were “blown away” by this concept, but I was heartened at the same time. It is this vision which drove us as we set off as Street Hope. So many para-church ministries concentrate on the ‘serving’ aspect and we are not in their league at all. Many churches specialise in the “Godward” aspects and are much better at these program initiatives than are we. We are humble little initiative that seeks to form street level missionaries.
We have a bigger group that occupies some space in the ‘belonging’ circle. We have a group that involves itself in our missionary ‘acts of kindness’, and we have a small group that meets regularly for study, prayer, and worship.
This is not currently a typical ministry but it may become so. If not we will continue to muddle on believing that in our messy midst stands the glorious King.
My day at the Hugh Halter event was very encouraging. I overheard one of my former student telling someone “reed has been teaching this for years!” It is nice to feel, at least for a moment that we are ‘on track’.