Minatrea and the Missional Church

I spent yesterday at one of the best conferences I have ever attended. The Metro Baptist Association brought in Milfred Minatrea of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. It was a small gathering of pastors, church planters, state convention workers, associational workers, religion professors, etc. The interaction was valuable and the content presented was informative.

Minatrea's lectures were on missional Christianity. He talked about some mechanics but spent most of the time discussing spirituality and values. He quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupery: If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

I want to know how you guys do this in your ministries? Do you teach missional yearning? How do you do it?

NOTE - I was given a copy of Minatrea's book, Shaped by God's Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. I already have a copy and will gladly send it to the first person that asks for it in this comment thread.


I once heard Anne LaMott say that the only real prayers are the one word prayers - Help. Wow. and Thank You. I have prayed help for our daughter and I appreciate you joining in that supplication. I now am praying - Thank You. She has responded to medication and will not require any more tests for now. We'll be watching her but are deeply grateful for her turn.



Please pray for our daughter Molly Katherine. A blood test yesterday registered a high white cell count. We hope it is a bacterial infection. She may be admitted into the hospital today, pending blood work. Thanks.

Updike and the Gospel or "Why I Want to Be a Bible-thumping Virile Muckraking Parson"

I read John Updike's A Month of Sundays during the holiday break. It was a ribald book filled with raw sexuality and sad perversion. Under this frothy surface, however, I heard the deep and steady voice of a warning prophet.

Updike's main character was the Reverend Tom Marshfield. His many affairs with lonely congregants landed him in a rehab center for wayward clerics. Here he found neither salvation nor damnation but the lowest forms of chummy talk therapy and escape. He returned to his parish unreformed and calcified.

Marshfield is the face of Updike's indictment of the modern church. He is a hollow form, an empty vestement. He is a terrified child believing if he prayes too well Jesus will answer by walking through the door, demanding his favorite toy. He fears the new birth.

Marshfield has acceted his life as empty functionary. He wrote, "The Catholic church in this at least was wright; a priest is more than a man, and though the man disintegrate within his vestements, and become degraded beyond the laxest of his flock, the priest can continue to perform his functions, as a scarecrow performs his." He continues, "We do not invent ourselves, and then persuade men to find room for us; rather, men invent our office, and persuade us to fill it." Pastors as shuttlecock - the story of his life - carecrows (*intentional miss-spelling) with a scrapwood spine.

It's easy to "go Marshfield" as Ted Haggard recently reminded us. It's just a few quick steps from the divine call to filling a role for a grinning crowd. I am grateful to Updike for this cautionary tale. He demands we pastors revisit our commitments and give attention to our spiritual formation. We need to hearken to the Word once delivered.

For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. II Corinthians 4:5 KJV
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