Breaking the Missional CODE

Book title:  Breaking the Missional CODE – Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community

Author(s):  Ed Stetzer & David Putman

Publisher:  Broadman & Holman Publishers

Copyright date:  2006

Number of pages:  240

Big Idea

“Evangelism is telling people about Jesus; missions involves understanding them before we tell them,” says Ed Stetzer and David Putman. For centuries, missionaries have understood this practice. Breaking the Missional CODE challengespastors and church leaders to think missionally, beginning with the idea that they are missionaries wherever God has placed them.  Living out the great commission is predicated upon the notion that Jesus sent his disciples out to all people and with a specific message. The authors make it clear that there is no one missional model that ensures success when working across cultures or in different contexts.  Having said that, they go on to suggest that it takes a profound understanding of the culture to identify the real barriers that blind people from understanding the gospel.


The content of the book is laid out in a way that guides the reader, through a set of questions at the end of each chapter, to think through their context, apply universal principles in their mission setting and then identify and apply strategies that are effective in their current ministry context.


  • The Emerging Glocal Context
  • Breaking the Missional Code
  • Responding to the Commissions of Jesus
  • The Missional Church Shift
  • Transitions to Missional Ministry
  • Values of Leaders and Churches that Break the Code
  • Contexualization: Making the Code Part of Your Strategy
  • Emerging Strategies
  • Spiritual Formation and Churches that Break the Code
  • Revitalization to Missional Ministry
  • Planting Missional Ministries
  • Emerging Networks: New Paradigms of Partnership
  • Breaking the Code without Compromising the Faith
  • Best Practices of Leaders and Churches that Break the Code
  • The Process of Breaking the Code
  • Breaking the Unbroken Code

Profile of Major Ronnie Robbins

Ronnie Robbins

After professional careers in law enforcement, executive hotel management and hospital administration, Major Roni Robbins met The Salvation Army and the rest is history. She was ordained and commissioned in 1995 as a Messenger of Hope. Following two corps officer appointments in the Georgia Division, Major Robbins was appointed to the College for Officer Training for three years where she taught both Homiletics and Doctrine (Theology).

She then served at our Southern Territory Headquarters as the Territorial Candidate Recruitment Secretary for three years. Before being appointed to Atlanta Temple Corps as Corps Officer where she is in her fourth year, the Major served at Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Headquarters. She spent one year there as Divisional Secretary and two years as General Secretary.

Major Robbins holds a Masters Degree in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from the same institution.

Leadership for The Great Commision

To champion the leadership challenge of the Great Commission in a globalized world calls for us to become postmodern men and women of Issachar who know the times and understand what to do.

The world is becoming increasingly compressed and interconnected as a single place.     Whereas the Great Commission still resonates deeply within the Protestant heart as a mark of evangelical identity and faithfulness to the Word and will of God, the context in which it operates has changed drastically over the last few decades. As to what this means in terms of leadership, we must understand that while the Gospel of Jesus Christ is timeless, the contexts in which mission takes place are constantly changing.

Orlando Costas emphasizes that we must exegete both the biblical texts and the contexts for Christian mission in the 21st century. Christian mission, or witness to the Gospel across diverse boundaries, is a process of relating the Christian faith to the ever-increasing realities in the world created by God and yearning towards recreation. To paraphrase Karl Barth, those committed to mission must reflect on it with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. In a nutshell, today’s Christian leaders must look around the world, see what is going on, and then figure out how the Gospel is relevant to that inevitable situation and context.

I Chronicles 12:32 says: “The men of Issachar understood the times, and knew what Israel should do.” Never has this verse been more relevant than it is today! We need, more than ever before, leaders who serve as “cultural exegetes” through their understanding of the times in which we live.

Students of the Bible are trained in biblical exegesis, which is simply a critical analysis or interpretation of scripture. However, to effectively carry out the Great Commission in today’s postmodern world, Christian leaders need to be not only biblical exegetes, but also cultural exegetes.

To this end, Mark Batterson has coined the phrase Carpe Culture. “Carpe” is a Latin word that actually means to “gather” or to “seize” something for the purpose of making use of it. He is saying, “Look, church! We need to gather the culture! We need to seize it! We need to redeem it and to make use of it for Jesus’ sake!”

Too many Christian leaders are getting A’s in biblical exegesis and D’s or F’s in cultural exegesis. We know Scripture, but we are out of touch with the times. And when that happens, the end result is a gap between theology and reality. That gap is called irrelevance.

We cannot afford to withdraw to the comfortable confines of our Christian subculture, or perhaps our Army subculture, and become out of touch with the very people we are trying to reach. We must be intentional about exegeting our culture to avoid or close any gap. We must become, as James Emery White says, “cultural apologists” who can translate the gospel into a language that people can understand; using culturally relevant metaphors to help people grasp spiritual truths. This is what Jesus did. He used agrarian metaphors to communicate spiritual truths.

Borrowing from the parable of the wineskins, we can think of biblical exegesis as the wine, and cultural relevance as the wineskin. Having one without the other will fail to quench anyone’s thirst. You need substance (biblical exegesis) and the container (cultural relevance). When we divorce biblical exegesis from cultural exegesis, we end up with dysfunctional truth. Either we answer questions no one is asking, or we give the wrong answers to the questions they are.

To fulfill the Great Commission today leaders must strive to get better grades in cultural exegesis; and this begins with doing our cultural homework. That is exactly what the apostle Paul did in Athens. Not only did he study the Athenian altars; but he even cited one of their popular poets. That made what he wanted to tell them about Jesus culturally relevant.

Finally, once we “understand the times,” we will then “know what to do.” An important study by Mayo shows that the one common denominator among all great leaders, regardless of numerical age or era, is “contextual intelligence.” This is an acute sensitivity to the social, political, technological, and demographic contexts that define the day.

Becoming good cultural exegetes gives leaders the insight, foresight, and vision to know what to do. So friends, let’s pick up a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Let’s look around the world, see what is going on, and then figure out how the Gospel is relevant to that inevitable situation and context. Let’s exegete the culture in order to redeem it, making use of it for Jesus’ sake! Then, to that end, we will effectively fulfill the Great Commission.

John’s Voice

It’s Time to Move!

Meditation 13

John 17:24

Moving is hard work.  You know what I’m talking about.  Over the years there is such an accumulation of “stuff” that when it comes time to move, the job is to sift, sort, let go of, pack away, and keep for immediate unpacking.  The boxes are heavy and making the furniture fit into a new home can be a chore.

In some ways, nomads have it right.  Don’t get so attached to things that you can’t make a move easily.  That picture of nomadic living serves us well in some aspects as we think about the fact that our life is a journey, the destination of which Jesus prayed for:  “Father, I want these people that you gave me to be with me where I am.”  Jesus is preparing a place for us.  He wants our permanent address to be with and IN Him.  We are not simply waiting until we transition to Heaven.  We abide in Him and He in us in the here and now.

That address is to be thought about on two levels.  No matter where we physically reside here on earth, our address is IN Jesus Christ.  What we have, where we live, what we do all need to reflect our relationship TO Him and IN Him.  Like the children of Israel, we move when He moves and we stay when He stays.  He provides all that we need for our journey.

On another level, there will be that final move to the place He has prepared for us.

Both of these are wrapped together in our eternal address in Jesus.

Jesus was telling His disciples on that final evening, and us through that Word today, that we need to give our forwarding address to others:  from the world to IN Jesus.  You will find that moving is much the same here as it is from place to place.  There are things you have accumulated—attitudes, behaviors, possessions, mindsets—that have to be sorted through, some discarded, others added or changed.  Sometimes the move in this realm is hard work.  Some things don’t fit.  There are new purposes and new joys.

The work is worth it.  Jesus has provided the place free of charge.  We walk it out daily with Him, dwelling with Him.  That word “dwell” means to be completely at home with. Once you experience the beauty of this new address, you will never want another place to live!