#VergeChi :: Todd Engstrom – 3 Ways to Kill A Missional Culture

todd engstrom

Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasureRomans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth.

God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

Since 2004, I have served in several capacities at The Austin Stone — leading a setup team, leading missional communities, overseeing the college ministry, directing our connections ministry, serving as pastor of missional communities, and now as executive pastor of campuses and communities.

 

3 Ways to Kill A Missional Culture

  • I’m the pastor of missional communities at Austin Stone Church.
  • I joined Austin Stone when it was just past birth.
  • We just kinda walked through puberty. We’re starting to figure some things out. We still have a long ways to go.
  • I want to candidly talk about the ideas that we’ve heard today, and what it looks like to actually put them into practice in a real church.
  • 3 Ways to Kill A Missional Culture
  • There is something that unifies every single on of us in this room today. We want people to receive the gospel.
  • We wanted to plant a church on the foundation of Scripture.
  • We wanted to plant a church where the only explanation of what happened was Jesus.
  • When it came to strategy and tactics though we were pretty clueless.
  • Along came Michael Stewart. He became our pastor of missional community.
  • What would it look like if we created a movement, not a church?
  • The biggest realization for us was that we were well on our way to repeating some of the same mistakes. We had great leaders, but we had immature disciples, and we wanted more.
  • We began to long for and beg to be like the church of Acts.
  • Don’t just think like church planters, but think like missionaries.
  • We just bet the farm on the missional idea.
  • After that rush of new vision though, there were some indications that a few things weren’t quite right.
  • We had lowered the bar, but unintentionally created an open bar for leadership.
  • In 2009 about 10% of our community had taken the vision and ran with it. But most of those people had gotten burnt out and left.
  • About 60% of our people wanted to try missional community, but were confused and frustrated about what their next step was.
  • About 30% completely ignored the idea.
  • We had the best intentions, but we had some poor results. We actually hurt some people in the transition.
  • We learned 3 primary lessons:
    • We assumed the gospel.
    • We cast vision without practices.
    • We failed to love consumers. 

We assumed the gospel

  • We realized we wanted a movement, but we spent so much time thinking about where we wanted to go, that we forgot where our people were.
  • We forgot to remind people who they were.
  • We were in a meeting one day and after an hour I realized that no one had actually mentioned the name of Jesus.
  • I did a gospel pop-quiz in meetings sometimes.
  • I had our people turn to each other and explain the gospel to each other.
  • Only 20% of our people were clear on the fundamental truth of the gospel.
  • The gospel is accepted, but then slowly over time the gospel becomes assumed.
  • The gospel gets confused by a group of people.
  • Then finally the gospel gets lost. This is exactly the story of the Ephesian church.
  • People are always tempted to start assuming the gospel.
  • When the church begins to assume the gospel it is immediately confused.
  • The gospel becomes Jesus + Something.
  • We live in a culture where the gospel is both assumed and confused.
  • Largely the gospel to someone is to go and do good works.
  • Paul never assumes the gospel in the letters he writes.
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
  • As leaders in this room we are tempted to assume that people know it is by grace you have been saved by faith, and we subtly replace the gospel with our strategy.
  • Unintentionally our gospel becomes ‘it is by training leaders that you are saved.’
  • We began to miss the point, and that is Jesus.
  • We forgot where our people were.
  • We fell into the trap that people could get the gospel everywhere, but they can only get clear vision here in the church.
  • But I think the inverse is true.
  • What we’re often lacking is the clear communication of the gospel.
  • Our conviction began to be that we would never gather as a people without communicating the gospel.
  • We never want to start articulating that message.
  • That 10% of people who were trying but were burned out, we had to remind them of the gospel.
  • The gospel is the foundation and the fuel for those who desire to pursue mission.
  • We in so many ways cast vision without practices.
  • After casting a vision for mission we swung the pendulum to that extreme.
  • We became annoyingly gospel-centered, but a vision of gospel mission without practices is exasperating for those who actually want to be on mission.
  • They have a desire to be obedient, but they are left without a way to do it.
  • If we want a movement, our city is going to be reached one neighbor and one kind act at a time.
  • What we fail to do is equip him for the work of the ministry.
  • The gospel must be applied practically into the lives of people.
  • Paul wants a knowledge of the gospel for people, but he also wants maturity.
  • Maturity and health don’t come from growing quickly. They come from work and discipline over time.
  • You have to do simple things over time.
  • We need to equip saints in the
  • If you cast vision without practice all you have is unrealized desire.
  • Cultivate a simple set of reproducible practices and then equip people in them repeatedly over time.
  • We use gathering as a life transformation group – 2-3 people.
  • We use family meals where we gather to talk about how God is working.
  • We gather in small communities. We invite our lost friends to engage with our community. We gather as missionaries.
  • This helped us take the confused people into actual faithful engagement.
  • We had to teach the same stuff over time. We’ve been teaching the same stuff over the last 4 years.
  • We didn’t love consumers.
  • It’s so discouraging when people don’t want to be obedient to Jesus.
  • I got so frustrated with these people. I didn’t know what to do with them.
  • We decided that we’re not going to cater to consumers.
  • Unreasonable expectations of people steeped in consumerism will kill a missional culture as well.
  • I thought my enemy was consumers, not consumerism. I started to fight consumers rather than the evil that is existing in our culture.
  • Don’t fight the people, fight the consumerism.
  • We told people that they needed to share the gospel with 3 people that week. If they didn’t then they shouldn’t come back. 3 out of 50 people came back.
  • We got self-righteous though.
  • We hurt alot of people that way.
  • We wrote people off because we forgot to love consumers and challenge consumerism.
  • We all struggle with consumerism. The system infects everything. Everyone in our culture is a consumer. Whether we want to admit it or not, we swim in an ocean of consumption.
  • We do a disservice when we throw consumers under the bus. They are people made in God’s image. How dare we stand over them in self-righteous judgment.
  • My tone in teaching began to attack people.
  • You can kill a missional culture by catering to consumerism.
  • You have to fight consumerism with the gospel.
  • Confront consumerism. Meet them where they are, but help them change over time.
  • Build ministry in your church that challenges consumerism.
  • Meet them where they are and take them where Jesus wants them to go.
  • Discipleship: Taking consumers and helping them become missionaries.
  • How am I helping a consumer take a next step towards Christ?
  • We have realistic expectations of how people change over time.
  • Jesus died for consumers so that I don’t have to.
  • When you’re leading consumers remember the truth of the Gospel. Jesus died for consumers so that I don’t have to. So that I can be patient with them.
  • We have made so many mistakes, but God is kind, and He is faithful.
  • We’ve repented of wanting something more than Jesus. We want to help others want Jesus more.
  • So right now that 10% of those living the vision has grown to 50%.
  • We’re not perfect, but God has done some amazing work.
  • Love people where they are, but challenge their sinful patterns of life.
  • The good news for us is that Jesus reigns over his church. He will keep us from assuming the gospel. He will give us practical direction. He will help us overcome consumerism.
  • Jesus will build his church.

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