//UPDATE. We have developed and refined and come to really embrace the Table, Pulpit and Square paradigm at Redeemer Fellowship. But it is different from what is seen here.//
A few weeks ago I shared a paradigm for our church called The Table, The Pulpit and the Square. Though each picture represents a different environment of church life (the home, the gathered church and the public square) and encompasses all we do as a church, all I shared at the time was how it relates to outreach. Here is the paradigm fleshed out. Steve McCoy was very helpful to me in this. We went back and forth discussing the best ways to explain the whole thing, and it is better for it. Thanks brother!
When I draw this out for people I include the circle, triangle and square, and the words and arrows surrounding them. I talk the rest of it out, rather than writing it all. I wont go over everything here. This is a summary.
The Table is the context in which our families practice hospitality. All families are encouraged to regularly welcome outsiders into their homes.
The Pulpit is the gathered church where the teaching of God's word is central. This works itself out in three ways: 1) gathered worship, 2) small groups and 3) our discipleship system. 1 and 2 are clear enough. 3 (discipleship system) is the process by which we teach our people beyond the small groups and corporate worship. This will look different in every church. For us it is (and will develop to include) membership/gospel classes, periodic midweek classes ("Midweek Midrash?") that will address specific issues, men and women ministries, etc. Outwardly the church is encouraging unbelievers to seek God with us, inwardly we are leading believers into maturity.
The Square is the church engaging the culture in four basic ways: 1) Participation, 2) Restoration, 3) Conversation and 4) Multiplcation.
Participation is our presence in the community we value and are a part of. We shop, eat and meet locally and are considered "regulars" in local establishments. This is the first and easiest level of entering the Square.
Restoration relates to mercy ministries where the gospel is giving birth to works of healing in the community. For us at present this is seen in our widely known Clothes Closet and our ESL classes.
Conversation is our dialog and evangelism in the community. Our neighbors are asking questions that the church can and should be addressing. We, as the church of Christ, hold the message of redemption and bear the privilege and responsibility of sharing the gospel with all who will listen. This includes everything from individuals meeting and talking with strangers, to public ministries of the church where conversation is happening outside of the Pulpit.
Multiplcation is the work of planting, restarting and strengthening other churches. This includes both our direct efforts as well as the networks we have partnered with. Think - our own plans to plant and Acts 29 (planting/restarting), and ministries like IX Marks and Founders Ministries (strengthening).
The three environments of our church life boil down to the home, the church (gathered) and the city. All of our people are encouraged and expected to be active in each environment outwardly and inwardly. Specific direction will be given to our people in our context, but the principles are universal.
This paradigm works well for us because it is simple enough to pass the napkin test, allows for both attractional and incarnational ministry approaches, and regularly brings Christians and non Christians together. You can download a PDF of the paradigm here for a closer look.