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In Kent R. Hunter's book The Future is Now - How God is Moving in the 21st Century, he has a chapter entitled 'Getting Your Missional Act Together' which focuses on the Great Commission as a lifestyle given to individuals in community rather than a programme for an institution to organise. 

Hunter unpacks the 3 P's that are taught to missionaries as an effective way of living missionally and making disciples.  Fundamental to this approach is recognising that human nature puts self first but the heart of missional living puts God's desire to love the world first.


The church needs 'presence ministries' which share the love of God with the community around it in love and deed.  For too long the contemporary church has relied on the old attractional model of 'you come to us' rather than the newer directional model of 'we will come to you'.  Traditionally, the church's local mission field was its neighbourhood, or perhaps several neighbourhoods, but perhaps today we need to emphasise workplace ministry, leisure time relationships and social media networks - these are the mission fields our members are already engaged with.  Purely looking at presence from a geographical viewpoint can seriously limit your vision!  Yet 'presence ministry' is never enough on its own.


My perception is that over the last 15 years or so, many evangelical churches have established good 'presence ministries' but sometimes to the detriment of what they used to be very good at - proclaiming the Gospel!  So we need to consistently emphasise the importance of seeking the opportunity to balance our presence ministry  with the salt and light of the Gospel message - not necessarily always in a formal way but being willing to tell our story, to talk about what God is doing in us, through us and around us, and to emphasise what Jesus has already done for us!  A church that has effective 'presence ministries' without ever talking to people about Jesus has missed the imperative of Romans 10.14: 'How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?'


The third P reminds me that ultimately conversion, discipleship and church growth don't depend on us but on the Lord.  However good our presence and proclamation are, it's the Holy Spirit that moves in people's lives and gives power to the words we speak.  We do well to remember that new believers haven't been converted by our Foodbank or our Debt Advice Centre, or even by the great testimony we shared or by the preacher's evangelistic message, but by the grace of God shown through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.  Perhaps the most crucial part we play in persuasion is by praying for those that are lost, praying for our 'presence ministries', praying that God will use our words when we share the love of Jesus with others, and that the Holy Spirit will continue to move in peoples lives.

Some churches stop at presence and have a church full on a Wednesday morning or a Friday night but see no lasting fruit, some jump straight to proclamation but find they have no-one to speak to!  Some churches are desperate to see a move of God and pray as such but don't engage in presence or proclamation.  Effective missional focus in the 21st Century needs presence, proclamation and persuasion.

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