Fuller Theological Seminary
LAKE CITY CHURCH, MADISON, WISCONSIN:
A MISSION STATEMENT
Presented in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Course
MC 502 Becoming A Missional Church
John T. Henry
1401 Ellen Ave. Madison, WI 53716
INTRODUCTION to LAKE CITY CHURCH 1
LAKE CITY AND ITS APPROACH TO MISSION 3
Historical Analysis 3
Social Analysis 5
Ministry Gifts & Church 6
Conversion to the Church 7
Leadership Gifts 9
LAKE CITY’S CONTEXT 10
Surrounding Demographics 11
Religious & Cultural Backgrounds of the Surrounding Area 13
Emerging Generation 14
LAKE CITY AS A MISSIONARY PEOPLE OF GOD IN ITS LOCAL CONTEXTS 17
Cultural Mosaics 18
Social Mosaics as Natural Bridges 18
Marketplace Bridges of Members 19
Missional Orientation 19
Positive & Negative Elements 21
Sanctuary and Citizen 22
Personal Development and Missional Development 24
LAKE CITY AS A MISSIONARY PEOPLE OF GOD In THE WORLD 26
Interchurch Cooperation in Global Mission 26
Independence & Interdependence 28
BIBLICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR LAKE CITY’S MISSION 31
Beyond Autonomy 31
Cooperation with Apostolic Gifts 33
LCC’s Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria 34
CONCLUSION -- A CALL TO MISSIONAL ACTION IN THE WORLD 36
Dialogue with Emerging Generation 36
Spiritual Formation for Spiritual Battle 37
WORKS CITED 40
My purpose of the writing of this mission statement for Lake City Church is to stand with and encourage the fellowship
of believers with whom I have been a part since moving to Wisconsin five years ago. There are many churches in the Madison
area, which I am certain could benefit from a similar study. Given my role as a “sent” missionary living in this area and the
concern I have for the churches in this city, a broader study of the Church in the Madison area may have been a more important
study. However, as I prayed about the role of Lake City Church in its local context, I came to the conclusion that this church is of
particular importance to the surrounding area. Lake City Church is an influential congregation, which stands the test of time with
the fruit of the planting of several other congregations.
I bring to this study a breadth of cultural understanding, twenty years as a Youth With A Mission staff person with
ministry experience in over twenty-five countries ranging from a few weeks to nearly one year of immersion in different cultures.
Before and during my continued service with YWAM, I have been an active member with varying levels of ministry, teaching,
and mission mobilization responsibilities in six churches including Lake City Church. I believe I have a unique perspective as I
proceed with this study. I possess both the “emic” anthropological perspective, as an insider, and “etic” anthropological
perspective, as an outsider, for studying Lake City’s culture and it’s surrounding area. I grew up in Madison, so I also bring an
historical perspective to this context. My family and I have been attending since we moved to Madison, WI in August 2000. We
soon became members. Shortly after arriving in Madison, the former senior pastor of over 30 years, Rev. Warren Heckman,
initiated our becoming one of their supported missionaries. In some ways, this perspective served as an asset as I approached this
study; in other ways this perspective has made me less qualified to move beyond the surface level to the deep level meanings of
the Madison area and Lake City Church culture.
This study is detailed, and accurate, though it is certainly not thorough, I have attempted to include all important and
significant elements. For any omissions and important aspects that should have been included, I take responsibility. To complete
this study with complete openness and trust of the pastoral staff, I have committed to confidentiality and cordiality. I have
embraced a learning posture and a caring, compassionate attitude toward the church and those who are giving so much of their
lives to its nurture and growth. The analysis and metaphors in this study are from my own limited perspective.
Much of the master planning of the sanctuary and school buildings at the Lake City Church campus dates back thirty
years. The buildings are a reflection of the foundational vision of the ministries at Lake City Church; most of the newer vision
has been built on that foundation. This mission statement may be considered a signal for a fresh congregational master planning
process and our collective “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10)
In weakness and in strength, I approach this study prayerfully with the aim to honor the Lord and His Church,
particularly the congregation at Lake City Church. I want to thank Pastor Mitch Milton for his openness and availability during
this study. Pastor Milton’s openness to change and cooperation with this project has been invaluable. Though many of my
questions to the pastoral staff were probing, Pastor Milton said, “I don’t think we mind hard questions. This is a staff that loves to
learn.” I also want to thank Nancy Van Maren for her assistance with information about the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. I
also want to thank the pastoral staff at Lake City Church for giving me one of their Monday morning staff meetings to discuss
this project and gain their input. It is with humble gratitude that I share this mission statement.
For Christ and For His Kingdom,
John T. Henry
Address: 1401 Ellen Ave. Madison, WI 53716 USA
INTRODUCTION to LAKE CITY CHURCH
As a member of Lake City Church and one of their adopted missionaries, I have an intimate knowledge of the church
and several members of the congregation. I have observed with interest the transition of Warren Heckman to Mitch Milton as
senior pastor. Such a transition is rarely without major difficulty, however this transition has been relatively unproblematic and
gracefully administered. As society has undergone many changes in recent years, LCC is also experiencing many changes, which
call for a thoughtful and fresh theological understanding of what it means to be the Church. While changes may be unsettling and
the numbers of members have fluctuated, especially in the recent senior pastor transition, the church is strong and growing, the
leadership is open to change as needed, and Lake City Church has great opportunity for significant missional engagement.
Lake City Church is a community of believers, many of whom have held together, through generations of internal and
external cultural change. The question I bring and we must answer on behalf of the congregation at Lake City Church is as
follows: “How will members gain a more objective vantage point from which to compare and judge our church culture and our
surrounding culture?” The purpose of this study is to examine the culture of the congregation and the surrounding culture with
particular focus on the boundaries between Lake City Church and its context. My conclusions to this study include some biblical
metaphors, implications, and insights in addition to a few recommendations for helping Lake City Church to adapt a more
missional vision in our changing world.
This study includes an examination of the origin and current composition of the Church at Madison gathering at Lake
City. In addition, the congregation’s culture, giftedness, leadership, location, theological method, and motivation for mission is
considered. This mission statement is not designed to give a complete understanding of the major shifts in global culture,
American culture, and the culture of today’s evangelical church, however we will consider the need for a fresh missional
response through a brief examination of today’s culture and how the congregation at Lake City may respond.
Lake City Church is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, a family of autonomous, evangelical
churches with historical roots in the modern Pentecostal movement. The theological framework of the FCA must certainly
influence the local congregation’s approach to mission. The FCA has combined the Pentecostal experience with local church
autonomy and evangelism to create a largely informal inter-church process. This will be explored further in this study. Given this
theological background and commitments to the FCA, Lake City Church is moving toward a missional orientation in our
changing contemporary culture. “As both our community and culture change we strive to remain relevant in how we provide and
carryout our multi-faceted ministry.” Lake City Church seeks to be a contemporary Christian church of faith, hope, love;
forgiveness and acceptance-helping people become fully devoted Christ-followers. The stated mission is expressed in
contemporary language: “Connect people with God”, “Connect Christ-followers with one another”, and “Connect our church
with our community and our world.”
LAKE CITY AND ITS APPROACH TO MISSION
In this first section, I have prepared a brief sketch of the historical and social background of Lake City Church. The
characteristics of the congregation at LCC, both historical and its present composition are described. LCC’s culture-affirming
aspects and its counter-cultural aspects are of great significance for the development of its missional orientation to its contexts.
This examination will help us consider the missional orientation at Lake City Church.
The church began as a small mission in 1927 during the Great Depression, under the leadership of Miss Sophie
Pfankuchen, a former missionary to Africa. Missionary influence established this new church. In 1931, Rev. W. H. Sproule, first
pastor of LCC, found interest in the baptism in the Holy Spirit accepting both the truth and experience of the Spirit-filled life. The
church built their first building at 1925 Winnebago Street on Madison's near east side in 1932. After thirty years, the
congregation remained small and struggled. In 1969, Warren and Donna Heckman accepted the offer to become the new pastors.
Pastor Heckman led the church in a time of major cultural change in the United States and particularly Madison. His
vision and commitment to evangelization brought a new season of growth. LCC grew from one of the smallest churches in
Madison to one of the largest with weekend attendance of more than eight hundred people. Because it was no longer adequate for
the congregation, the Winnebago Street property was sold in 1971 and a building was rented downtown. This began another
season of growth as LCC began to reach out to the new Jesus People movement, many of whom began to regularly attend
services. By 1976, a sanctuary to accommodate twelve hundred people was built and the congregation held their first service in
their new building. LCC has planted branching churches in Brodhead, Madison, Mt. Horeb, New Glarus, Reedsburg, Spring
Green, Stoughton, and Sun Prairie.
The Campus for Kids Learning Center and Preschool, which began in 1977 with seven children in the sanctuary
basement, now has three hundred children in a new thirty thousand square foot building. The Abundant Life Christian School
began in 1978 for the purpose of “offering students academic excellence in a Christian setting.” ALCS began in the balcony of
LCC's sanctuary with three teachers and thirty students. ALCS facilities are completed with enrollment close to four hundred
students. Families from more than fifty area churches and several communities, by virtue of their children’s representation in the
student body, are served by ALCS.
Pastors Warren and Donna Heckman developed the church from a small struggling congregation to a large multi-
faceted and reproducing ministry. Of the several churches planted, intentionally and unintentionally, one is the fast-growing
Mad-City Church, which has a strong appeal for today’s postmodern seeker and younger believers navigating this time of social
transition. Since the recent senior pastor transition from Warren and Donna Heckman to Mitch and Cheri (Heckman) Milton, the
church has undergone many changes including an unintentional church plant as one “retiring” staff pastor “invited” many senior
members of the congregation to help him start a new church. Warren Heckman responded in his typically positive way, saying,
“We were pregnant and we didn’t know it.” Pastors Mitch and Cheri have been striving to lead the church to be relevant to the
changing culture, with a vision to grow the congregation and the church’s ministries under the corporate model he inherited.
In June of 2002, LCC celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary and Warren and Donna Heckman's thirty-three years as
senior pastor. Warren and Donna Heckman then stepped out of their senior pastor role to serve as associate for a year before their
full transition to a different city. Mitch and Cheri Milton transitioned from their positions as co-pastors to senior pastors. Today
Lake City Church has a pastoral staff of nine, a support staff of over eleven people, and many lay people involved in various
ministries; nearly fifty are involved in a typical Sunday service alone. LCC purposes to reach people with the message of Jesus
Christ and to minister to people of all ages by providing ministry for each life stage - from infants to those in their older years.
Lake City Church has one hundred thirty paid staff and twenty-two ministries including Campus for Kids with fifty
staff and Abundant Life Christian School with forty-five teachers. ALCS, offering kindergarten through high school, had a high
of over four hundred and ninety children enrolled in 1998. “There has been a consistent decline (at ALCS) for six to seven
years,” Pastor Milton revealed. LCC has also seen reduced attendance at church since the transition. Pastor Milton wrote to me
saying, “We maintained the coveted one thousand (Sunday attendance) mark for most of the eighties and nineties.” It was about
that time when Mad-City Church began, which attracted many young families and their children. Then the three-year senior
pastor transition began in 2001. “We started loosing ground, the unplanned church, (and) transition further eroded the base and
we are probably closer to an average attendance of seven-hundred and fifty today,” Pastor Milton adds.
The mission of the church is simply to connect people to God, to each other, and to the world they are called to reach.
Just over a year ago, a new “Connecting” pastor was hired to develop and oversee adult small groups. Already very successful,
group types include After-Word (to process together the Sunday messages), Free-Market (everything from cooking, finances, and
scuba-diving), and Ephesians Four groups. The Ephesians Four Groups are designed for spiritual formation and leadership
training, helping church members to embrace their calling in ministry.
Ministry Gifts & Church
The Church at Lake City, like the church in any location, involves the leadership gifts of Ephesians chapter four:
apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. A brief survey among pastoral staff revealed their view of the dominant
ministry gifts at Lake City Church, “teachers” among the pastoral staff, “pastors” among the small group leaders, and “helps and
hospitality” among the congregation. While all those gifts are necessary; the fact that they are perceived “dominant” is worthy of
closer analysis. Lake City’s challenge is that of most every church founded in the Western Constantine model and led primarily
by the pastoral gifting. The challenge is that they tend to become a consumer orientated church operating with a corporate
business model of church organization. “The Constantine Church is by definition reactive and reflective to the surrounding
culture. It completely forgets the Church’s own culture-forming and sustaining capabilities…it aligns the Church with power,
against those out of power.” (Clapp 1996:39) The business model of leadership, while striving to attract people and meet needs,
can never fully or adequately meet the wants, the desires, even the needs of the people.
Amid transition and changing culture, some Lake City members have withdrawn. As Clifford Geertz points out, “there
is no greater human fear than the loss of a sense of order and meaning.” (Van Engen: 2005) As a result, some have withdrawn
from vital church life and mission in one of three ways. First, some have chosen to stay and criticize Lake City Church. Second,
some have chosen to lower expectations and live as individuals with little involvement or authentic Christian community. Third,
some have completely withdrawn by leaving the church and by perhaps seeking another congregation. Because changes that have
occurred are often not understood, some may have felt the church has lost its direction and therefore left for “better pastures.” In
each of these ways, the individual believers and oftentimes their families have severed their part in the life of the community,
including the path to a revival that is not only for individuals, but for the entire congregation and its influence in the surrounding
Conversion to the Church
The pastoral work of the Church at Lake City is vital to mission. The primary work of pastoral ministries is to restore
individuals, families, and the congregation to the promised life of the Lord Jesus Christ, which comes from connection with his
Body, the Church. Spiritual development is provided in a variety of ministries, including home fellowship groups, for every age
and stage of life. Pastoral counseling, marriage enrichment, parenting skills, financial counseling and other help are provided on a
personal basis and through various Connecting groups. Before the Lake City can respond as a congregation to local and global
mission, a full conversion is necessary among its influential members. It was Peter’s conversion experience with Cornelius (Acts
10:28, 34-35), which led him to embrace God’s mission to the Gentiles. His example led those with him to also be converted in
their thinking regarding God’s salvation for those outside Israel. (Acts 10:45) Dr. Van Engen suggests there are three
conversions: a conversion to Jesus Christ, a conversion to the Church, then a conversion to reach out to the wider world, the
Moving Lake City Church toward a new mission vision to engage our growing multicultural and pluralistic context will
require a total tripartite conversion. Today people feel passionate for God, yet have little desire to argue the basis of their faith
and even less desire to play the competitive games many churches have played for generations, including the Church Growth
Movement. Though not the primary purpose of this mission statement, there is sufficient argument that the Constantine and
Modern Western framework for “church,” has postured the local congregation in culture with few alternatives to the competitive
stance among pastors to outdo the other churches through the best method. The laity is the audience or consumer. Voluntary
service may be encouraged, but it is by nature less valuable than paid ministries. The church is run by specialists whose greatest
concern is how to make the church attractive to people. Therefore technique, as Peter Berger and Jacque Ellul point out
“dominates church life.” (Hiebert and Meneses 1995:349)
Those who come to faith in Christ need to be converted to the Church. They need to learn that the Church, including
the congregation at Lake City, is not perfect. This is of profound significance to reaching this generation, “as profound a
conversion as our conversion to Jesus.” (MC 502 Lecture 10: 2005) Understanding this need for conversion calls for an
individual and corporate response to Christ to love our neighbors and forgive any wrong that has been done to us, intentionally or
unintentionally, and offers greater meaningfulness for our congregational role in mission. As we deepen our discipleship,
understanding of the scriptures, and responsiveness to God’s will, we must ultimately respond to God’s call to all believers to
engage the world as a “light to the Gentiles.”
A vital part of a Lake City’s response to this call to mission may require the recognition of all the gifts of leadership in
the Body. The work of the Church requires more than the pastoral gifting in leadership, thought primary in much of the Western
world. God’s gifts of apostles, the “sent ones,” and prophets are vital to the leadership of the Church (1 Cor 12:28), especially in
the process of forging new territory in mission. (Eph. 2:20) Leadership according to Dr. Van Engen,
“is the corporate event whereby the people of God move forward in mission in the world as they live out their vision of God’s call and will for them
stimulated by ‘leader/catalysts’ and mobilized by the Holy Spirit in response to what God is doing in their midst and in their context of mission in the
Identifying, encouraging, and commissioning those leadership gifts from within the congregation and those in
relationship with the congregation in the wider world is vital to the fulfillment of Lake City Church’s mission in the local context
and to the ends of the earth.
This framework for the “local church” is one of the most powerful influences responsible for diminishing real growth
and missional engagement of the Church in the West. Perhaps the term “congregation” should replace “local church” and
“Church” should always refer to the broadest understanding of the Body of Christ to remind the people that it is not the bounded-
set, “local church” but the Lord Jesus who is the center. (Hiebert 1994:) Jesus draws all people to Himself, no matter how or
where they worship, and He sends all out to all the world. A new paradigm for mission may require a revival of a very different
kind; it may require a revival of humility on the part of Church leaders in the city with an open-handed leadership style that
releases people to go be the Church in today’s pluralistic community. As an influential congregation in the Madison area, Lake
City Church may accept its role as a leading agent of change toward this missional orientation.
LAKE CITY’S CONTEXT
Now that we understand some of the challenges and the unique qualities, personality, and mission ethos of the
congregation at Lake City Church, we may proceed with a careful examination of the cultures and religions of the people of the
East Side of Madison. To begin to engage the broader culture, we must understand more deeply this context in which Lake City
Church finds itself today. If Lake City Church does not pursue a deep level understanding of the cultural context, then the church
may become irrelevant. We need to understand what has been holding this congregation together and what will help this
congregation to cross boundaries to extend beyond the familiar culture.
I have been impressed by the peaceful, quiet residential Elvehjem neighborhood on Madison’s East Side where Lake
City Church is situated. Within a one-mile radius of the twenty-five-acre church and school campus on East Buckeye Avenue,
there are several small Protestant churches and one comparably large Roman Catholic Church. To the south is a relatively old and
still developing industrial business complex. Lake City Church is one of the larger, and certainly more influential, church
communities on the East Side of the progressive city of Madison, Wisconsin. While Madison is a mostly homogenous Midwest
community, examining this area for its religious and cultural characteristics is not a straightforward process.
Examining the cultural context of Madison, especially with respect to the influence of the University of Wisconsin, will
help us to understand the context in which the Lake City Church is ministering. Madison is not only the capitol city of the State
of Wisconsin, it is host to over forty thousand University of Wisconsin students. Sometimes called “Berkley of the Midwest,” the
UW-Madison has a history of radical student activity. At the time of the Vietnam War, Madison was shaken by a series of student
protests resulting in the 1970 bombing of Sterling Hall, which killed a graduate student of physics. Madison, proud of its
progressive thinking and tolerance, powerfully influences state and national politics, philosophy, entertainment, and education.
The “Wisconsin Idea” is described as the compelling need to carry “the beneficent influence of the university ... to every home in
the state.” (Stark 1995) With more than four thousand international students from one hundred and twenty nations, the UW
impressively shapes more than Madison; it affects the world. (Bollag 2004) During his 1978 run for governor, the former UW-
Stevens Point chancellor, Lee Dreyfus, was quoted saying Madison is “thirty square miles surrounded by reality.” (Moe 1999)
Madison is a small city of 217,935 people as of 2004. However, this capitol city of Wisconsin is an increasingly
multicultural community, primarily due to the consistently growing population of internationals who are attracted to the area
through the University of Wisconsin. Politically, they call the county “Progressive Dane” for it’s liberal political leanings. A city
surrounding three lakes, Madison is profoundly conscious of the environment. The origins of many of the ideas of the progressive
global environmental movement were at the University of Wisconsin.
The unemployment rate is less than three percent with 13,385 employers in Dane County (June 2004). This stable
employment is due to the fact that the government is the primary employer in the area, including the State of Wisconsin, with
41,151 employees, and the University of Wisconsin (26,300), followed by the university’s hospital and clinics (6,095), the
Madison school district (4,950), the federal (4,587), city (3,071), and county (2,672) governments. The major private employers
include three major insurance companies (10,619), four medical providers (11,797), Oscar Meyer Foods (2,200), and TDS
telephone company with over two thousand employees. Several other smaller companies, only four of which have more than one
thousand, employ Dane county residents in the fields of retail, health care, energy, communications, hospitality, and clothing.
The few manufacturers in the area employ only one percent of the Dane county population.
The Madison median household income in 2004 was fifty two thousand dollars, about ten thousand dollars higher than
the State median household income. About forty-nine of the population earns over fifty thousand dollars a year. The twenty
thousand people in Lake City’s zip code area live in over eight thousand housing units with an average sale price of two hundred
twenty-six thousand dollars. The median age is forty years old, somewhat older than the State’s median age of thirty-five. The
average household size is 2.36, about the State’s average. What may be most significant is the forty-one percent twenty-five years
or older who have a college degree, compared to the State average of just twenty-four percent.
The first houses were built in 1939 and the majority of the homes in this zip code were built in the 1950s and ‘60s. This
family-friendly neighborhood community has over 5000 houses with at least three bedrooms, seventy-five percent of which are
owned by the homeowner. Most homeowners also own two vehicles in this zip code. Only one hundred and twenty-eight
households have no cars. However, just over three hundred rental households, over fourteen percent of renters, are without cars.
Among cities of similar population and diversity, Madison consistently has one of the lowest crime rates. Based on
incidents per one hundred thousand persons, Madison has the lowest murder and assault rates among cities of the same size, and
is among the lowest in robbery, rape, and arson and burglary rates. However, there is concern in Madison for growing gang
violence among teens, including the neighborhood in which Lake City Church is found.
Religious & Cultural Backgrounds of the Surrounding Area
The religious background of this area is far different from the charismatic and conservative Pentecostal foundations of
Lake City Church. The previous religious experience of this predominantly white, non-Hispanic population is represented by the
primarily German and Norwegian ethnicity; the vast majority are Lutheran and Catholic. Madison has eighty-two percent White,
Non-Hispanic; nearly six percent African-American; nearly six percent Asian and Pacific Islander; less than five percent
Hispanic; less than one percent Native American, with just two percent claiming “other” or “mixed” ethnicity.
The cultural temperament of the people of the Midwest is represented in their deep northern European roots. They are a
reserved, frugal, hardworking people, much like the farmers who settled in the area over one hundred fifty years ago. Thriftiness
is valued a godly characteristic; Wisconsin is rated among the lowest in a nation-wide study of financial giving. Reflecting and
perhaps reinforcing this cultural ethos, Lake City Church messages tend to have more emphasis on responsibility with regard to
money than on faith and generosity. The successful and ongoing Crown Financial Ministries and recent “Journey to Financial
Freedom Seminar” represent this observation.
According to the 2000 Census, Madison’s ethnicity is slightly more diverse than the surrounding Dane County. The
context in which Lake City Church is established is not a new or rapidly changing area. It is a somewhat older, higher educated,
financially stable resident population. The Americanization of most of the churches in Wisconsin occurred several decades ago.
This is not the second generation, but more likely the third or fourth generation of the six thousand two hundred ethnically
German people, twenty-three hundred ethnically Norwegian, and seventeen hundred ethnically Irish people who have settled,
make up, and surround the Lake City congregation. Because of the university, however, there are recent immigrants who are very
different and may be overlooked by this established neighborhood Church. In addition to this, the emerging generation of young
people are finding a significant cultural gap in this settled, older generation neighborhood.
George Barna’s new book, Revolution may be a prophetic foretelling of a “massive shaking and change that are
rumbling underground - waiting to be unleashed on the Western Church.” Barna’s latest book is about the twenty-three million
‘revolutionaries’ who are forging a vibrant Christian lifestyle, often totally outside the usual church-on-Sunday system. “Whether
you want to or not, you will have to take a stand in regard to the ‘revolution’. It is on track to become the most significant
recalibration of the American Christian body in more than a century....” “As someone who has moved amongst “Out-of-church”
Christians now for almost twenty years, I have found the two most damaging aspects of this movement to be rampant
individualism, and the lack of actual direction towards true New Testament Christianity.” Of the seven hundred, and seven
million revival-type believers around the world today, “hundreds of millions of these Christians are simply not associated with
the institutional churches at all. They meet in homes. They meet underground. They meet in caves....”
The current shift in culture is also affecting adult believers with families, many who “feel divided between private
interests (church, spirituality, etc.) and public concerns (economics, politics, environment, etc.).” (McAlister 2001:368) This is
the result of this tendency during the period of Modernity to split life between the inner spiritual and outer secular arenas. Pastor
John Ruck said, “We live in a culture dominated by the Enlightenment. I wonder how well we prepare people to dice it up out
there with the people diametrically opposed to the gospel.” To engage this growing community of disaffiliated believers, the
ample teaching ministries at Lake City could be encouraged to address the “split” in concert with a new mission focus. To fail to
do so will likely result in a greater distance between the Church and the world, and a diminishing of the numbers and influence of
members at Lake City.
The surrounding culture does show evidence of concern for the community and the wider world. The Madison Senior
Pastor Survey conducted in 1996, found eighty-four percent of the congregations placed “some” or “a lot” of emphasis on
meeting the needs of the poor. (Jericho 1996:7) Concern for the environment, HIV/AIDS, poverty, health care, and other social
concerns are normally considered “secular,” however the dominant culture of the Madison area, influenced by the primary
employers, the University of Wisconsin and the federal, state, and local governments, are providing potential natural bridges of
engagement with the wider world.
LAKE CITY AS A MISSIONARY PEOPLE OF GOD IN ITS LOCAL CONTEXTS
The following two sections will focus on how Lake City Church intentionally crosses barriers “from Church to non-
church, faith to non-faith” in order to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. The stated desire for visitors
of Lake City is that they would “personally come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and commit (their) life to serving Him
(Acts 2:37-39, John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10).” Pastor Mitch Milton is bringing fresh vision to Lake City Church. The discussion
we have had these past weeks revealed something of his journey: “…we need to find our missional purpose. We need to find it
for all of us. So we can help people to move away from the ‘what’s in it for me?’ I think we are getting closer, but I don’t think
we are quite there.”
In this section, I will analyze the social mosaics that are natural bridges of outreach of Lake City’s surrounding
communities, investigate whether the missional orientation is introverted, extroverted, or some combination, and then make some
suggestions about those positive and negative elements that affect the Lake City’s missional outreach. First, however, I will
consider how today’s culture is a more radically pluralistic society, especially in the context of Madison, Wisconsin, than was the
diverse first century society.
Today’s cultural mosaic is much like the cultural milieu of the first-century church. My understanding of the world to
which Jesus came is that of three major cultures, the Jewish, Greek, and Roman, and many subcultures. Perhaps today is
dissimilar in that the times are less safe and more radically pluralistic than ever before. While the resident population of Madison
and the surrounding area is not as ethnically diverse, the University of Wisconsin’s forty thousand students and faculty from over
one-hundred nations bring a ethnic diversity and pluralistic ideas, which powerfully influence the religious and cultural diversity.
Social Mosaics as Natural Bridges
The social mosaics that are natural bridges of outreach of Lake City’s surrounding communities relate to the religious,
recreational, educational, social, economic, and spiritual life of the congregation. These natural bridges are evident in the
religious backgrounds, particularly the Roman Catholic and Lutheran backgrounds, of the vast majority of Lake City members.
Natural bridges are also found in the playgrounds, where they and their children ride bicycles, play baseball, football, soccer and
where they boat, hike, hunt, fish, and camp. Madison is fanatical about sports, most especially the UW Badgers and Green Bay
Packers football teams, as indicated by the popularity of team paraphernalia displayed proudly as apparel, yard ornaments, and
even art on garage doors. Natural bridges also relate to workplaces and schools.
Marketplace Bridges of Members
Work and workplace information with responses from two hundred and forty-six people of five hundred and twenty
eight members, albeit an incomplete list, showed the breadth marketplace influence of Lake City Church. The distribution of this
sample of members is not entirely representative of the overall workforce in Madison. The majority of LCC’s employed people
appear to be in private industry and business, forty-eight percent, and almost five percent of those are self-employed
entrepreneurial people. Of those private industry workers, roughly five percent work in the insurance industry, seven percent
work in retail, and ten percent work in health related fields.
Compared to Dane County, Lake City has five percent entrepreneurs who regularly engage in risk and change. Lake
City also represents a higher percentage of people working in private industry. This is in contrast to the wider local context.
Pastor Cheri Milton responded, “As a church, we have to help our people to risk and change. We have to teach our entrepreneurs
to relate and move the people in their neighborhood to risk change, even to accept Jesus.”
Nearly ten percent of the sample work in the field of education and over eleven percent work for the government. This
sample also showed eight percent of Lake City’s members are retired while eight percent declared themselves to be homemakers.
Interestingly, the sample also showed that eleven percent of the members who responded are employed at Lake City Church,
including the Campus for Kids and Abundant Life Christian School. Finally, about three percent are working with another
ministry such as Intervarsity or Youth With A Mission.
Determining whether the missional orientation of Lake City Church’s member is introverted, extroverted, or some
combination is not a precise task. Pastor Milton offers this observation: “We are continually being surprised by the number of
minorities coming to LCC. More come than stay, yet we are encouraged by the number that do stay. African-Americans and
Hispanics seem to out number the rest.” Pastor Milton and the leadership of LCC openly express their desire to see the church
grow and celebrate a more multi-cultural representation. However, it is unclear whether the members of the church have the same
The people in the surrounding area and those who have subsequently become members of Lake City Church have
tended to have a background that is either Roman Catholic or Lutheran Church. Pastor Milton outlined his sense of the faith of
the people in the Madison area, which may give us some insight into the faith and ecclesiology of the Church itself. Milton said,
“Coming thru their religious backgrounds, where relationship wasn’t emphasized, I believe still holds much power in their lives. I would say that
most would say they have a belief in God but not necessarily a relationship.”
Given their religious background, and the cultural habits that develop within that background, this may indicate a
somewhat introverted tendency of the members of Lake City Church.
It should also be noted that the culture of the Mid-West is rooted in the German and Norwegian majority ethnic
population, including the tendency to work hard, enjoy family, and close friends. The Elvehjem and other neighborhoods
surrounding LCC are mostly single-family homes with city parks and bike paths generously distributed for family play and
community activities. It is not necessary to watch the residents cut their grass twice a week to recognize that there is an obvious
care and concern for a neat and clean yard. The city government enforces a twenty-four hour deadline on homeowners to show
due diligence to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks. Neighbors commonly reach out to assist each other at times of major
snowfalls in Madison’s long winters. In this way, the tendency to be introverted is overcome through the cultural care and
concern for safety and neatness.
Lake City is not intentionally exclusivist with regard to culture. However, it may be the cultural background and
tendency toward introversion that influences the mostly Caucasian congregation. Pastor Milton is planning a more intentional
celebration of the diversity that, though small, does exist at LCC. The Church has several families from Nigeria and Milton is
working with them for a Sunday to tell their story, which he says is “very fascinating and wonderful.”
Positive & Negative Elements
The people in Madison, from a positive perspective, seem to love entertainment, recreational sports and hanging out
together for a good time. UW Badger and Green Bay Packers football gives the people of Madison good reason for LCC
members to get together with friends, family, and neighbors. Education may also positively influence LCC’s outreach in as much
as the members find intellectual and service outlets related to their fields of study and training. As mentioned above, the people
of Madison seem to care for others, as demonstrated by their concern for snow removal. This care is also expressed through
typically liberal ideals of tolerance and giving to the needy. This positive element of Madison’s culture may certainly be reflected
inside as well as outside the church.
On the other hand, there are negative elements affecting Lake City Church’s missional approach to the Madison area.
People who might be integrated into the community tend to come and go from this area, mostly due to the transient population at
the University of Wisconsin and the State government. Pastor Milton added, “In our immediate area we have seen the same
homes turn over two or three times in the last five years.” Another key negative element affecting LCC’s missional engagement
is time; “people are busy, busy and busy,” Milton pointed out, “work, kids and other activities put God and church on the back
burner.” While education is valued in Madison, education is often valued for the wrong reasons and founded on human reason
and capacity without reference to God. Education offers a powerful opportunity, but it should be embraced with faith for the
furtherance of God’s kingdom. Emphasizing the priesthood of the believer and God’s calling to serve in every sphere of society
may be the most important task ahead for helping LCC move, as Pastor Milton suggests, “from what is in it for me to what is in it
Lake City Church web site states the following ways the congregation intends to fulfill it’s stated mission, by
“worshipping God individually and corporately”, “walking out our faith in our daily lives based on God's word”, and by “being a
witness by telling our personal God-story to others.” However, there is an incongruity in the perception and practice of the
Sunday worship celebration. Is the Sunday worship celebration designed for members primarily to experience the presence of
God, or is the congregation truly conscious and engaged in the mission to attract un-churched people? From the pastoral staff,
there is an expressed concern for all to be sensitive to visitors. Because much of the preaching at Lake City Church is primarily
about family issues, personal relationships, finances, success, and church life, the answer to this question is not obvious. Though
there is a full week devoted to the annual mission convention, preaching devoted to the church's mission in the world, both
locally and globally, is not emphasized.
Sanctuary and Citizen
Lake City Church’s mission orientation appears to be in two of Van Engen’s mission orientation quadrants, sanctuary
and citizen. Children’s Pastor Matt Guevara replied, “the sanctuary orientation. Most of our sermons and speaking is oriented to
the individual response to scripture,” Guevara adds, “We preach messages asking ‘how does this affect you as an individual?’”
Pastor Sarah Karlen adds, “We all have our private life. Some people don’t want to do it on their own, so they look to the Church
for the event of the sanctuary. They want us to do it for them.” Pastor Milton responded, “Activist? No. Not for us as a church.
We try to encourage more small groups so the sanctuary can happen more in the home. We are trying to break down the idea that
it has to happen here in the Sunday service.”
Again, there is a contrast between Lake City Church’s congregational perception and practice. Lake City Church may
be perceived as many in the American Evangelical culture, which has “long been interested in the Gnostic type of religion, the
tendency to believe and act as if faith and salvation were essentially private, acultural, and ahistoric.” (Clapp 1996:34) In their
public proclamation and in their presentation, visiting evangelists express concern for individual salvations, proclaiming in the
public sphere the concern for the inner life. Pastor Cheri Milton, in response to recent evangelist speakers said, “I reacted by
saying ‘did you notice what we are doing here and there?’” Though it was entitled “Transform Madison,” the message at this
event at Lake City was “get people saved from Madison,” and not come be a part of the transformation of Madison. What is most
disconcerting about this incongruity is that few in the congregation seemed to notice.
Dr. Charles Van Engen’ article, “The Religious Encounter in the New Millennium” outlines the “Evangelist Paradigm”
providing a way for Christians to approach persons of other faiths in a manner that is “faith particularist, culturally pluralist and
ecclesiologically inclusivist.” (Van Engen: 2000) Avoiding the confusion that results when equating faith and culture, Van Engen
points to a fresh vision for a gospel that is centered in Jesus Christ. This kind of theological reflection, drawing from the
multicultural and global church in this new millennium, can provide understanding for a missional response that is
simultaneously local and global. This Evangelist Paradigm is “absolutist about a personal faith relationship. However, it is at the
same time relativist about faith in terms of the shape this takes in church and cultures.” (Van Engen: 2005) Lake City Church
appears to be faith particularist, culturally exlusivist with a general openness to become more pluralist, and ecclesiologically
In some ways, Lake City Church has little influence on the surrounding culture. It appears the surrounding culture has
affected much of the life of the members of the congregations to the detriment of the church’s mission in Madison. In traditional
Evangelical terms, the congregation has for many years understood its role in the community and its call to engage the
community, however that does not provide the theological resources for today’s post-Christian, pluralist society. A church
congregation must not simply be “a gathering of well-meaning individuals who have entered into a social contract to meet their
privately defined self-interest.” (Guder 1998: 159). While the need for engagement with the surrounding culture is apparent and
the programs for ministry formation and nurture of the congregation are in place, it appears that LCC would benefit with a fresh
vision of what it means to be a missional church. Pastor Milton adds:
“I think we have built a system…keys to success, eight lessons you need to know, it becomes very easy…we begin a measurement process…how are
you with God, what might you have done? Pass the test first, and then we know if you are on mission with us… We are much more interested in the end
result, than enjoying the journey. In many other parts of the world, it is much more about enjoying the journey. We’re in this thing together. We’re discipling
Personal Development and Missional Development
The “journey,” as Pastor Mitch states, is the personal development process, developing character, understanding, and
ministry skills. A vision for personal development presents another problem. However, the question remains: Does the process
apply to the Church, or the local congregation? Must Lake City Church go through those progressive levels of qualification
before engaging the world as a congregation? Is the biblical mandate to “go, teach, baptize,” be a “light to the Gentiles,” and “be
my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth” not applicable to a congregation at any time in its process
If the Temple was meant to be a “House of Prayer for All Nations” and the Israelites were to be a “Light to the
Gentiles” over two thousand years ago, and in the context that Jesus’ commission is his disciples, how can we in our fast-paced,
globalized culture not embrace the full vision and begin to act on it in faith? Certainly Philip acted on it in faith and the Holy
Spirit swept him up from the local, mostly homogeneous multitudes, and placed him in front of a single Ethiopian man to extend
the message across cultural and geographic boundaries. The local engagement is to be done simultaneous with the global; one
influences and informs the other. For Lake City Church to develop this kind of multi-tiered mission vision and participation, it
will require a new level of partnership in the local and global context.
LAKE CITY AS A MISSIONARY PEOPLE OF GOD In THE WORLD
Lake City Church’s inter-church and inter-denominational, cooperative endeavors are informal, though significant.
Cooperative efforts include such things as the upcoming regional evangelistic campaign, Impact World Tour, in April 2006. Lake
City hosted one of the three-day gatherings in November 2005 to apprise members of local congregations, mobilize prayer, and
reignite those whose confidence in evangelism and transformation has diminished. This example demonstrates Lake City’s
commitment to partner with the congregations in the city. Lake City’s congregational cooperation in the surrounding area and in
its denominational mission program is accomplished primarily through relational networking. In this section I will describe Lake
City’s interchurch cooperation and site opportunities and hindrances to interchurch cooperation.
Interchurch Cooperation in Global Mission
Lake City Church’s membership with the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies provides opportunity for cooperation
among a family of autonomous, evangelical churches. The FCA recognizes both the independence and the interdependence of the
local church. “It’s a relational fellowship,” said Nancy Van Maren, LCC’s Missions Coordinator. This movement was born out of
a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the turn of the century. Roots of the FCA can be traced to the Wesleyan-holiness
renewal, which emphasized a definite sanctification experience and the modern Pentecostal movement, which stressed the
enduement of the Spirit for witness and service.
The FCA traces its roots to an outbreak of the Holy Spirit in 1906 among Scandinavian Baptists in Chicago, Illinois. A
strong emphasis upon self-governing local church autonomy had marked the early stages of the Pentecostal renewal. The
Fellowship is held together through the relational networks, commissions, and conference planning committees with regional and
area conferences. The FCA affirms local church autonomy and inter-church responsibility. The mission statement affirms its
Pentecostal heritage while highlighting the view that the “Great Commission [is] the over-arching purpose for our existence as a
group of churches.”
Occasionally one of the local congregations will host a regional conference or informal Fellowship meetings mostly to
encourage inspiration and support for newcomers. One such meeting took place at one of Lake City’s annual mission
conventions. Several of those who were in attendance were sent out on church planting teams from Lake City Church. In
addition, there is a monthly pastor’s cluster gathering in which topics of concern or mutual edification may be shared in a
confidential and supportive atmosphere. The FCA cooperates in new-church planting and other home missions ministry on a
regional or area basis, although appeals might be circulated more widely. Missions have always been a vital and important part of
LCC's ministry. On a regular monthly basis, LCC supports thirty-seven missionary families, representing twenty countries. As a
missions minded church, approximately one hundred people from LCC go on short-term mission trips each year. In many ways
LCC is a leader in the city, setting the example for churches in Madison. If LCC shows a decline in global and local involvement,
it may be deduced that there will be a decline of the missionary engagement in other churches in this area, as well as those in the
FCA. LCC has realized this responsibility, as noted on the LCC web site:
“LCC has been blessed, so we have the responsibility to bless others by taking God’s word to the ends of the earth. The Missions Ministry seeks to
obey the Great Commission with prayer, developing strategic partnerships, involving people in short-term trips, and providing resources. Our desire is to
reach beyond the walls of our local congregation by evangelizing, discipling, assisting with church planting, and aiding in relief and development.”
Independence & Interdependence
Lake City Church leadership has defined missions as “overseas ministry or ministry to another culture within our own
country.” This includes evangelizing, discipling, planting churches, and aiding in their growth and development overseas and in
the United States. Any ministry extending beyond the congregation, the church facilities or the local influence of the church is
considered “missions.” The FCA recognizes foreign missionaries are ordained or commissioned by their home churches and are
therefore accountable to them. At this year’s annual mission convention the missionaries were gathered to hear a brief
presentation from a few of the mission committee leaders. They presented a missionary evaluation form, which they hoped to use
to gain better information and to “better manage the church’s resources.” Evaluation is necessary for missionaries and
stewardship of resources is also important, however senior missionary leaders are more likely, according to scripture, to evaluate
the local church and not the other way around. Missionary accountability should remain strong to the sending church, however as
a missionary, I suggest the need for intensive and ongoing discipleship in a missionary’s life is best done by the experienced
missionary and in the context of relationship within the mission agency (like attracts like gifts). In order for Lake City to gain the
benefit of the ministry gifts of these “sent ones”, a transformation of the thinking about missionaries is necessary.
The FCA is informally networking through inter-church home and foreign mission support and conferences. Van
Maren explains, “When unable to undertake full support of a missionary, an FCA church may enlist assistance from other
churches in the Fellowship.” Those who have established a working relationship and confidence with at least two active FCA
ministers may apply for an informal recognition at ministerial gatherings, letters of recommendation or other means. “About fifty
to sixty percent of our missionaries are recommended to us through [this] arrangement,” Van Maren said.
Lake City Church adheres to the scholarship, which widely recognizes that the “New Testament presents no
authoritative organization above the local church during the apostolic era.” Lake City Church follows this understanding with the
following statement on its web site: “autonomous church life as portrayed in the New Testament is beneficial for all ages of the
church.” LCC’s vision for a congregation that is autonomous centers around a concern for the sovereign freedom of the Lord
Jesus Christ to act in His Body through the Word and the Spirit. This freedom of God is enhanced, as the FCA statements confer,
“in the context of the freedom of the congregation from external religious authority.”
The biblical challenge I offer to this understanding is the usage of the term “autonomous,” a word we do not find in the
Scriptures. Autonomous means “sovereign,” which appears nearly three hundred times in the New Testament. However, in every
case “sovereign” refers to the Lord, not individuals or local congregations. Jesus said “For where two or three come together in
my name, there am I with them.” (Mt 18:20) The independent spirit of autonomy may represent a significant hindrance to Lake
City Church’s effectiveness in mission, especially cooperative partnerships in mission, locally and globally.
This early description of the call to gather as the Church, not as individuals, but as a community of believers in mutual
submission, is in contrast to the notion of autonomy. Local congregations are not autonomous, but a local expression of One
global Body of Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord,
one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6) “There is no salvation
except one in which we are saved together through one whom God sends to be the bearer of his salvation.” (Newbigin 1989: 83)
BIBLICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR LAKE CITY’S MISSION
The best theologians of history were missionaries. Historically, the Church has sought a theological basis of missions
and not the missiological basis for theology. Missions is more than something the Church does; it is not something Lake City
Church does as they can afford it, when they have time, or as a special event. Biblically, mission is the founding and central to
the purpose of the Church, the very reason for the Church’s existence. As previously discussed, it is necessary for Lake City
Church members to experience a full conversion, including a conversion to the Church and a conversion to the Great
Commission. Spiritual formation and discipleship at Lake City must facilitate this complete conversion, the secondary conversion
to the Church and the tertiary conversion to global mission. Biblical motivation follows biblical revelation, best fostered through
practical participation, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and the Church’s ministry gifts, in local and global mission.
While it may be true that local freedom reinforces the concept of the unity of the Body of Christ, autonomy is often
understood in absolutes in our modern usage of the term. Each congregation is an expression of the Body of Christ, not
autonomous, but functioning under the headship of Christ. The distinction of autonomy and freedom, while seemingly small and
insignificant, has major implications for Lake City Church’s mission. As in the Book of Judges, local congregations that uphold
autonomy may impart an extreme spirit of freedom to its members where “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
(Jud. 17:6 KJV) “The Western post-Enlightenment understanding of the human person centers on the autonomy of the individual
who is free to make or to break relationships at will.” (Newbigin 1989: 188)
For LCC to discern our mission as a congregation to the surrounding culture and the wider world, we need to “learn
how to distinguish the Christian message from the operative assumptions, values, and pursuits of our host society.” (Shenk: 2005)
The gospel story has been forced out of the public sphere to become merely a private matter addressing a personal need, so that in
much of the Church today “we find narcissism and individualism masquerading as personal salvation.” (Watson: 180) Our
society exalts the importance of the individual. The Evangelical Church reinforces this with the proper concern that every
individual come to know Christ. However, the emphasis on individual faith hinders Christian congregations in the West from
seeing the broader Body of Christ and their role in it.
The New Testament has little to say about organization for local congregations, though it does speak of the attitude of
believers and leaders as they gather for worship, the appointment of special ministries, and how they are to relate. Like elders of a
local congregation, those “sent” to apostolic service are called to “set an example” (1 Tim. 4:12). However, the apostolic call is to
extend the message of the gospel to “regions beyond” (2 Cor. 10:16) the context of the local congregation. For our discussion, the
New Testament outlines how Christian workers “sent” are to relate to the local congregations. Those sent out to preach the
Gospel were directly related to their home fellowship, however their accountability seems to be redirected to their personal
relationships in their apostolic band, such as Paul and his company.
Cooperation with Apostolic Gifts
In addition, accountability of missionaries is broadened with their call to apostolic ministry to “all the churches.” (Rom.
16:4,16; 2 Cor. 8:18, 11:28; Gal. 1:2; 2 Th 1:4) Paul’s concern about those who individually “follow” one apostolic leader’s
teaching over another is answered in his appeal for cooperation among these inter-congregational ministries: “I planted the seed,
Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6) Missionaries are conferred authority by the Scriptures to instruct and
“command.” (2 Cor. 3:4, 1 Cor. 7:17) The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) concerned more than the two churches, Antioch and
Jerusalem, and its results were of instruction and blessing to many other assemblies.
The New Testament encourages spiritual fellowship and voluntary cooperation among the assemblies. Apostolic
ministries play an important role in this cooperation. It appears it is the role of those “sent” into apostolic ministries to exhort,
encourage, and instruct local congregations not to “use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature,” (Gal. 5:13) including the
failure to love through cooperation with other congregations and through witness to the wider world. This understanding places a
great responsibility on Lake City Church, an influential congregation in Madison, to develop congregational responsiveness and
an increasing cooperation among churches through the help of missionaries toward greater missionary engagement of the wider
LCC’s Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria
The vision of mission expressed in Acts 1:8 is an all embracing vision for the “all” that Jesus commissions us to and
that so often turns up in Paul’s letters, all nations, all peoples, all things. This requires a full dependency on the Holy Spirit. Lake
City Church’s “Jerusalem” may be compared to our local suburban community; our “Judea” may be the multi-ethnic and multi-
national University of Wisconsin; and our “Samaria” may be described as the nations that become our friends as we embrace our
“Judea” the UW; and the ends of the earth is the resultant global mobilization, engagement, and partnerships in a new generation
of mission. Cross-cultural mission may be done through Lake City’s members as they exercise their ministry gift of hospitality to
the internationals in Madison and at the University of Wisconsin. Our “Judea,” the UW, and the forty-one thousand students offer
natural bridges to the ends of the earth through the nearly four thousand international students. Some international students have
found a home at Lake City Church through the “Fuel” college and career group on Tuesday nights. Providing hospitality and
inviting students at the University of Wisconsin, especially internationals, to Lake City Church, is very influential and strategic
Just as the widows of the Hellenistic Jews were being neglected in the first century multi-cultural church (Acts 6),
majority culture at Lake City may also overlook the minority cultures in our local context. If this neglect exists and continues, it
is a temptation for the minority members toward bitterness and rebellion. The early church leaders were very wise; they
appointed deacons. Hospitality is a vital gift of the Spirit. These first deacons, exercising the ministry gift of helps and
hospitality, were more than overseers of food. They were in charge of the cross-cultural dynamic of the early church. All their
names were Greek. In addition to being “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” they were local missionaries. This is a clear
example of how Lake City Church can engage in cross-cultural ministry in the local setting through a few of their dominant
CONCLUSION -- A CALL TO MISSIONAL ACTION IN THE WORLD
The Lake City Church congregation is engaging the Madison area and wider world through intentional ministries and
many of the natural bridges of ministry to the local area and the wider world. Becoming a missional church in Madison,
Wisconsin and in our growing pluralist society requires a new framework and a new level of engagement for a new generation.
Such engagement will require a renewed commitment to conversion, a tripartite conversion to Christ, His Church, and His
Mission. One of the ways a fresh missional vision and engagement may be tangibly and metaphorically represented, is by turning
the “lake” of Lake City into a fountain sending up fresh streams of water. The fountain could have three shoots to represent the
three conversions necessary to become a missional church. In this section, I will summarize a new framework for developing a
missional vision and practice through dialogue, spiritual warfare, and spiritual formation at Lake City Church.
Dialogue with Emerging Generation
To engage the emerging generation, we need to develop common bonds in common spaces. In today’s context, we need
to appreciate the necessity to dialogue with other faiths by creating structures, places for conversation, as in the design of the
Court of the Gentiles, intended for dialogue with the nations.
“…the context for true dialogue is provided. As we work together with people of other commitments, we shall discover the places where our ways
must separate. Here is where real dialogue may begin. It is a real dialogue about real issues. It is not just a sharing of religious experiences, though it may
include this.” (Newbigin 1989: 181)
The Court of the Gentiles was neither private, nor public. This space, I believe, is compared to what Van Engen calls
“third spaces.” In third spaces we may have dialogue as a “light to the Gentiles.” By clearly identifying that which is “holy,” we
reaffirm the sacred spaces in the midst of our community at Lake City Church. Pastor Milton said, “We recognize a need for a
third space. We try to create it through small groups. This is what Brian is doing with
FUEL,” the college and career group that meets at the local coffee shop on Tuesday evenings. By intentionally
creating “third spaces,” the members of Lake City Church will re-learn how to engage their world.
Our dialogue must include a willingness to explore theological questions with thoughtfulness and a “generous
orthodoxy.” We find common ground as we seek shared commitment, through voluntary service. Lake City Church can begin to
expand our cultural framework, and experiment with new ministry methods and models, particularly engaging those issues that
resonate with this generation. We need to engage the emerging generation with open-ended questions about what it means to be
an apprentice of Jesus Christ, what we are here for, and most importantly, “What is Church?” Finding dialog means taking the
non-Christian hearer’s experience as the starting point. This is missional evangelism! (Newbigin 1989: 173)
Spiritual Formation for Spiritual Battle
One definition of culture is “all learned behavior.” What we have been taught includes spiritual teachings. Lesslie
Newbigin could see his culture as no one could see it. He didn’t simply identify with culture. He understood the need to
understand our story and the story of our culture, while at the same time understand that we should not be led by the teachings of
our culture. If we are not free from our culture’s teaching, we will bring our distortions with us when we preach the gospel. With
that understanding in mind, we will discuss how the Lake City Church ought to prepare for spiritual battle in mission.
One of the big reasons God sends his people onto the mission field is not only for the people to whom God sends, but
also for the missionary. The formation of disciples is part of our spiritual battle to become a missional congregation. The
elementary teachings Paul often mentioned in his letters are powerfully influential ideas. (Newbigin 1989: ch. 16) These ideas are
useful and necessary, though dangerous. Paul understood the gospel more clearly than any of the apostles who were with Jesus
for three years. Though he was a Pharisee of Pharisees, he was free from cultural bondage.
Paul’s greatest contribution is his revelations, which clarified the Church’s call to worldwide mission, the gospel for the
Gentiles. Perhaps to gain freedom from distorted cultural teachings, we should engage in such radical spiritual formation as Paul
did. He writes, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7)
Paul’s background of scholarship, nationality, and religious identity was useful for his ability to teach, however they were
hindrances to his ability to see Jesus Christ. Distorted teaching had a strong grip on his mind. These distortions filtered reality so
much that when he looked at Jesus he did not see the Messiah. Paul spent ten years in ruthless examination of what he had been
taught in order to become free of distortion. His letters help to make us effective as ministers across cultural barriers, local and
global. To gain such freedom at Lake City Church and to our families, our city, and our culture, we will need a similar ruthless
examination of our culture and its ideas.
Spiritual formation and discipleship is the work of the Holy Spirit, most often in cooperation with the ministry gifts of
the Church. At Lake City Church, those with the spiritual gift of teacher may be prepared to ask deep questions, first of
themselves, then as they teach others. Such questions are best asked in the context of cross-cultural outreach. We might ask:
“How does my gender, family, ethnicity, nationality, language, career, hobbies, commitments, education, friendships, property,
and reputation influence me?” The members of Lake City Church will gain effectiveness in mission as they participate in a deep
and ruthless examination of our culture and its influence on us. We should consciously expect to draw near to God as we
intentionally reach out across cultural barriers as witnesses of His sovereign rule and kingdom in all things. If we go through this
process, then we can go back into our culture or another culture and have authority to speak with clarity of the freedom found
only in Christ and not come under the teachings of culture.
Paul referred to the law as the “custodian” or “guardian.” (Galatians 4:8-9) Then he asks why, after you have known
God, would you go back to be slaves of the elementary principles? (Col.2:8,20) Elementary principles, ‘stoichaea’ in Greek, are
used by the enemy to influence us, keep us divided, or unite us on a false basis. The Church, including Lake City Church, needs
to step forward to deal with these powerful forces holding people and cultures captive, blinded from seeing the gospel. We need
to recognize those elementary principles and those custodians and guardians, which are teaching and often blinding our culture
and the nations today. As Lake City prepares for and creates spaces for open dialog with the surrounding cultures, while
reaffirming conversion to the unique Christ, His One Church, and His Mission, the congregation will experience a fresh life, a
fountain of the waters of life, and a sending of His witnesses to our Jerusalem, Judean, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly
realms.” (Eph 3:10)
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