Two lengthy handouts help fill in and make Swanson’s talk stick. FYI he’s a blogger catch him here. I won’t record them here but he has a tone of thoughtful, timely illustrations from actual Christians and churches who live externally focused lives.

Differences between attractional churches and missional churches: (Matt. 22:2-5; Luke 14:18-20)

  • ATTRACTIONAL MODEL: Notice the emphasis on ‘come’ in the Matthew passage, the king realizes that people aren’t coming so he emphasis’s the menu options. Like we do at times with our programs to our communities but that’s not enough to bring people in. The attractional model asks people to substitute something that they think is important for what we think is important. The king was not worried about who comes as much as that they come, and he emphasized a goto model rather than a cometo model when the coming wasn’t happening.

Characteristics of an Externally focused church: There’s a movement today that says unless the church is really engaged in the community its really not the church that God wants it to be.

  • They believe that communities  can’t be healthy unless the church has engaged them. Notice Swanson does not say the church cannot be healthy, but rather the community. Communities need the church, and the church needs to get over its fears of the community.
  • They believe Christians don’t grow until they begin serving. We all have a default model that says we grow through spiritual food alone, instead Swanson says we need with spiritual food spiritual exercise. Now Swanson is quick to qualify this point by saying hey this isn’t spirituality with Ephesians 2:8-9; but its also not spirituality without Ephesians 2:10 either. We need both. There are works God has “prepared in advance,” we don’t create our calling and mission we enter it because its already setup for us. We live by and in purpose, HIS PURPOSE. We have two judgments and two testimonies, the death in our flesh BUT ALSO the life in the Spirit (John 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Why does God give us leaders? Eph. 4:11, 12 “For works of service” Why does God give us scripture? “for every good work” 2 Tim 3:16-17; Why does God give us spiritual gifts? “to serve others” 1 Pet. 4:10; Why does God give us wealth? “To do good” 1 Tim 6:18. Consider the difference between converts and disciples: converts believe what Jesus said, but disciples come from doing what Jesus did; difference between transactional to transformational; from fundamentals defined by belief to fundamentals defined by beliefs and actions.
  • They understand the power of service: There are three concentric circles that help us understand the power of service: 1) understanding the needs and dreams of the city you are located within or near (or if your in the burbs the schools and community centers, etc.); 2) understanding the mandates and desires of God Isaiah 65; and 3) understanding the callings and capacities of the church (knowing who you are and how right now you can touch). In the center of the 1 &2 circles is common grace, that’s one of Swanson’s theological hooks for reasoning that the church indeed as a community is called to the community; viewing it this way prevents the church from just doing social work or being indifferent. Between circles 1 & 3 is control which we don’t want to give ourselvs over to, there needs to be separation. Between ciricles 2&3 is salvation but that doesnt’ necessarily in the same fasion extend to all. In the center of them all is service, service brings from those served and serve two questions: who are you and why are you doing this? Salvation is our ultimate motive but its not our ulterior motive. The power of service has been attacked in the church because of some of the negative developments in the social gospel. Swanson does some basic historical criticism stuff on movements in Evangelicalism in the 20th century, basically he says lets break down dichotomies between social gospel and saving the lost by not looking at things along a line but instead in a matrix that includes both and. 
  • They partner with other entities:  Uses Paul G. Hiebert’s “bounded set” analogy here; bounded set puts beliefs in a ciricle and says this is what we believe and the way they are able to partner with others is by ‘shared beliefs’. Hiebert says lets not use bounded sets but rather lets use “centered sets” where Jesus as a person is who units us. What this looks like on a community level is instead of asking who we are following as a person we ask how that person (ie Jesus) lived in community with others himself.  
  • They lower the threshold to service: See Acts 10 & 13 & 15. What is ministry? Ministry is anything we do to meet another’s need with resources God has given us. He talks about “Critical Mass” a bit here; innovators make up 3% of the community population – early adopters make up 13% – middle adopters 34% – late adopters 34% – laggards 16%. (Book to read “The infusion of innovation by Rodgers”)