Missional Ice Cream
Taking the gospel where people can taste and see that the Lord is good.

I've heard that the church is like a family. We've all been told the church is like a business. Now Leadership contributor, Chad Hall, explains that a missional church is like an ice cream truck. He may be on to something, but there will still be arguments about what kind of music to play.

My kids (6, 3, and 2 years old) LOVE the ice cream truck, and so do I. What's not to love? There we are, outside on a hot day playing in the yard or riding a bike or washing the car and out of nowhere we hear the faint melody of the ice cream truck. Like an unexpected friend dropping by, the ice cream truck rounds the corner and delivers delicious desserts in the middle of an otherwise humdrum day. It's a beautiful thing.

The ice cream truck reminds me of what it means to be a missional disciple. The ice cream truck driver has a wonderful gift he wants to bestow (okay, he's selling it ? every metaphor has its flaws, so let's ignore the mismatches, okay?). The driver also seeks out the very kinds of people who are ready and in want of the gifts he has. The driver does not sit in the parking lot of the old folks' home and wait for my family to drop what we are doing and come to him and get our cool treats. No, he comes to us. And we delight in what he brings.

Missional disciples also have a wonderful gift (Jesus), best offered to those who are in want.

The more I think about it, what my kids love is not the ice cream truck ? it's the ice cream itself. If we bring Jesus to people, people will love what we bring. But too often we get perplexed and even disappointed because folks reject our opinions about Jesus, or our system for understanding Jesus, or our organization that is devoted to Jesus. In fact, we may even find it difficult to know Jesus apart from our opinions, systems, and organizations related to him. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a missional disciple is letting Jesus be unwrapped from all that packaging.

But do people really want Jesus? Do they want Way, Truth, and Life? At some level, the answer for every child born of woman is "Yes." People want Jesus even more than my kids want ice cream because Jesus is the only Way we can Truly Live ? and every person wants to truly live.

For a while, my 5-year-old neighbor didn't think he liked ice cream. Go figure. At birthday parties, he'd take his cake plain. At summer cookouts, he'd settle for a cookie. When the ice cream truck came by, he just kept playing. But over time he kept noticing the other kids going bonkers over ice cream. Nobody forced him to try it. Though I considered holding him down and shoving some Neapolitan down his throat, I refrained.

August 28, 2007

Displaying 1–10 of 10 comments

Robby Jackson

September 10, 2007  10:42am

In a sense we "are" the ice cream, if we are out there trying to live our lives for Christ. We may be the first "ice cream" someone tastes, and whether they are willing to come back for more really may depend on how well we are being the ice cream. The other thought is the differences in flavors and types of ice cream in the truck. I think Jesus is willing to appeal to the flavor cravings of each person out there instead of our sometimes institutional plan of force-feeding everyone vanilla (or if it was entirely up to me chocolate chocolate chip). That's why there are Nutty Buddies and ice cream sandwiches, and Push-ups and a lot of other things in the truck.

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September 04, 2007  9:59am

I love the first comment (Richard's) re: how about we become the ice cream. That takes it to a whole higher and deeper and better level. Wonderful insight!!

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September 03, 2007  9:27am

the church (("the system")is the depot, where individual trucks come to get refueled and trained and more ice cream.

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Trey Morgan

August 30, 2007  11:43am

Excellent post on sharing Jesus. We must remember we are God's ambassadors to others. I need to represent Him well. Blessings PS - I'm a "plain vanilla" guy ... what does that say about my ice cream skills?

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August 29, 2007  11:27pm

Mark you are exactly right. The competitive nature of the instituttionalized form of church where leaders compete for the giving dollars of God's people so they can produce ever enlarging advertizing, media, and facility expressions of "faith" is very confusing to the lost. Not only does it communicate the opposite of Jesus words about believers unity pointing the lost to Christ, this exteral-non-personal perpetual blitz completely overshadows the one-on-one, simple witness and service that currently exists from God's people in the world where the lost live.

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August 29, 2007  2:24pm

Mark- Please don't repent, your post was spot on.

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Mark Goodyear

August 29, 2007  9:51am

OK, I didn't mean that analogy to turn so dark! I love the church. I love the encouragement it offers. And I love the education it does provide–through a community that agrees God's Word is important. Prayer is important. Having just posted that accidental diatribe against division in the church, I'm feeling a little like I need to repent. And I'm still left with Chad's final questions: What about me? Who do I need to serve this week? Who do I need to encourage?

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Mark Goodyear

August 29, 2007  9:42am

My wife still hates ice cream. (I accuse her of being communist.) Tim's comments about "the system" make me want to stretch the analogy a bit. Imagine that the world has been overrun with ice cream trucks. There's one on every corner. Their music competes with each other. Some of the trucks are pretty run down. Some of the truck drivers are downright creepy. And they are all peddling different flavors of ice cream. (Does Jesus come in different flavors??) Some of them can't even agree what ice cream is. The truck drivers unionize into competing groups. Some argue for the foundational truth of plain vanilla. Others think multicolored rocket bomb popcicles should count as ice cream. They hold national conferences. They start their own journals and newspapers. At a certain point, some people decide they don't want ice cream anymore. But others remember the ice cream freezer in their kitchens...

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August 28, 2007  4:37pm

Chad is recommending real good stuff for God's people. From what I've heard of "missional" churches, their main gatherings are still dominated by one-way communication by a hired professional. How can you expect God's people to articulate truth to the lost when they are in a SYSTEM where this is mostly outsourced. They have no confidence to speak Christ to their own brothers and sisters on a weekly basis. How will they have confidence to speak it to the lost? In the current SYSTEM, a few saints will, but only a very few. This problem is all across the whole country with this SYSTEM of gathering. Try out what Heb. 10:24,25 says believers should do when they gather - and not forsake. This requires 24/7 spiritual life. It requires giving up pulpits and pews. You can't hire it done or lecture it to happen. It's happening in China because they don't have pulpits, pews, and almost complete dependency on hired experts for truth expression. Change the SYSTEM, so God's people depend directly on the HS to use them to build up each other, and they will be ready and eager to serve the lost 7 days a week. "Let us throw off the things that hinder, and the sin that so easily entangles so we can run the race marked out for us.."

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August 28, 2007  4:24pm

What if you had to become the ice cream? Kind of like... 1Jo 4:17 Herein has love been perfected with us that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that even as *he* is, *we* also are in this world. ;)

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