Sentralized, a premier gathering of missional leaders, is coming to Dallas on September 25-27.
Then prices go up.
Why do the Sentralized conference? Why is it needed? What are the distinctives?
If we hope to have a genuine missional movement in North America and beyond, it will only happen because the work of the Gospel gets into the hands of the people…the everyday folks.
This demands a grassroots ethos. Sentralized has that feel to it. It is kind of a blue collar conference.
We want to offer an excellent experience for everyone, but we don’t try to make it over-produced. Missional is about accessibility. So, for example, all of our speakers are available during break times, hanging out with attendees to share stories, insights, and answer questions that don’t get covered during the formal talk. Each evening informal get-togethers take place. We believe this is essential for a people’s movement.
We also highlight some of the “under the radar” folks who are doing a great job in their places of ministry who have not been widely known. Maybe they haven’t written a book or spoken at many large conferences, but they are incredible missionaries and when Sentralized attendees hear them they often say, “I can do that!” We try to offer lots of practical speakers and resources such as this.
What are your definitions for “missional”?
When it comes to understanding the concept of missional, we usually say that we have a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer is that missional is simply the adjective form of the noun missionary. Therefore when we use the language of “missional church,” the word missional is used to modify, or describe the church as a missionary entity. In other words, the church doesn’t just send missionaries; the church is the missionary.
Now for the long answer. When considering a more theologically rooted definition of the word missional, we believe we need to examine three chief distinctions. We like to refer to them as theological foundations. Each point deliberately confronts long held assumptions most Christians have about God, the church and mission.
While there is different language that could be used, we usually speak of them as:
- The Missionary Nature of God and the Church
- Incarnational Mission Rather Than Attractional Ministry
- Participation in the Missio Dei. Without serious attention to each of these three points, the missional journey will inevitably end prematurely.
The bottom line of what makes a missional person or a missional church comes down to whether or not people are living as missionaries where they live, work, eat, and play.
Think back to the first Sentralized conference. Do you find that more leaders are interested in the missional conversation today? Do you sense that people are grasping that, as Michael Frost says, as more than a trend or buzz word?
It’s actually quite amazing.
Just a very few years ago, many of us were sowing missional seed thoughts in what seemed like rocky soil at times. Something is happening in hearts of leaders. In their insides, they have known that gathering people is just part of the equation for church. They knew that discipling people and sending them throughout the week was essential to the spread of the Gospel.
They just didn’t know how to do it, or where to find answers. It is really interesting to see that the missional conversation has moved from a “convince me” topic to an “I’m convinced. Now, show me how to actually live and lead it” conversation.
What is the format and flow of Sentralized Dallas?
There are two things we have tried to do a little differently this year in regards to content.
First, we have divided several of the plenary sessions into 18-minute “TED-like” talks. Each of the “micro-talks” are focused more on missional practices. While the breakouts are specifically focused on practical application, we think adding more emphasis on practices in the main sessions will be helpful.
Second, we have created a greater emphasis on the transitioning of existing congregations in a missional direction. There will be both main sessions and workshops that will help give specific direction on church transitions.
Is there a topical focus or theme this year? On what specific messages will Sentralized focus?
Our theme comes from Micah 6:8—Justice, kindness, and humility. We will be focusing on what it means to live and lead with this ethos. Jesus brought justice, delivered it with kindness, all the while leading as a humble servant.
Can you briefly share three potential and specific takeaways you believe will be eye-opening for those who attend Sentralized?
First, regardless of a leader’s approach to church, the bottom line has to be about missionary formation. Every Christian has to first see himself/herself as a missionary sent into a local context. Moreover, the leaders have to be able to equip every member in their church to also think and act like a missionary.
Second, we want folks to understand that they have already been sent. God has already sent all of us to the places we find ourselves today. Therefore, it is about discovering what God is doing around us today, and then discerning how God wants us to participate in what He is already doing.
Third, we want every conference participant to recognize that they are a part of a larger family, or tribe. We have very purposely created time and space for people to “hang-out” with others who are on the missional journey. That includes all of the presenters as well as fellow participants. We want people to know that they are not alone on their journey. We all can, and need, to learn from one another.
Any stories of how over the years the Sentralized conference has been integral in inspiring and equipping leaders to live missionally?
The most common and repeated story we hear is from men and women—often in tears—who approach us sometime during or following Sentralized and say, “This is what I’ve been searching for. I knew in my heart that there was more to ministry than pulling off a Sunday service. And I am getting some handles on it through the speakers and people I’ve met here.”
The connections through the ministries and training opportunities, beyond Sentralized, that people get exposed to during the conference often gets leaders on the pathway they need to live and lead missionally.
How are you praying for Sentralized Dallas?
Please join with us in praying for leaders and Christians in general that are searching for answers on how to live and lead missionally…that they will hear about Sentralized and have the means to make it there. We are praying for our speakers and volunteers to be filled with the Holy Spirit to serve the message, and experience that will be reproducible in the lives and contexts of the attendees.