I just read one of the best definitions of a missional church. I think. And guess what? It’s not from a pastor or theologian, and it doesn’t even have any Scripture quotations. Cue the scream: *scream*
Here it is. It’s from Jeff Bezos, founder and chairman of Amazon.com, and it’s in reference to their strategy for creating products and reaching customers:
“There are two ways that companies can extend what they’re doing. One is they can take an inventory of their skills and competencies, and then they can say, “OK, with this set of skills and competencies, what else can we do?” And that’s a very useful technique that all companies should use. But there’s a second method, which takes a longer-term orientation. It is to say, rather than ask what are we good at and what else can we do with that skill, you ask, who are our customers? What do they need? And then you say we’re going to give that to them regardless of whether we currently have the skills to do so, and we will learn those skills no matter how long it takes. Kindle is a great example of that. It’s been on the market for two years, but we worked on it for three years in earnest before that. We talked about it for a year before that. We had to go hire people to build a hardware–engineering team to build the device. We had to acquire new skills. There’s a tendency, I think, for executives to think that the right course of action is to stick to the knitting—stick with what you’re good at. That may be a generally good rule, but the problem is the world changes out from under you if you’re not constantly adding to your skill set.” (Click here to read the whole article).
This concept kind of turns some of the dialogue on spiritual gifts on its head. For example, much of the seminars on spiritual gifts focus on exactly what Bezos was talking about: what are my talents, gifts, personality, etc. But I think his concept is more Scriptural. It simply asks, “what does our community need, how can we reach them,” and then the church would go about learning those skills or doing what is necessary to reach the people. I think this is something the Holy Spirit can really work through: the Spirit blessing you with gifts as you seek to reach those far from Christ.
What do you think of this concept as related to spiritual gifts and reaching people?
[image by Jim Darling] *picture of a guy reading on an Amazon Kindle with a cover.