Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Workshop Where It Began Five Years Ago: Notes from Reggie McNeal

Five years ago this month, I was in a workshop with missional church leader Reggie McNeal, when the vision that had been trying to rise to the surface, a vision of turning our church inside out, of moving from trying to attract to trying to incarnate, of creating a space to give away to others in which we would be guests, when this vision became clear. I recently found the notes of that workshop and thought I would share them. At the top of the page I have written and circled his words: Church never votes to go missional; church that votes will always vote to go back to Egypt. (see Exodus). 1. But he started with a discussion of John 4:34-35, part of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman after the disciples have left him to go into town to get food. From Eugene Peterson's translation of these lines: Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn't you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I'm telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what's right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time! So, we are again getting at the difference here between the actions of the disciples and Jesus, or you might say the difference between church and Jesus. The disciples leave the area, the well, leave Jesus to go into town to get food. Church is trying to feed itself instead of others. It misses the action, it misses the party. And while the disciples can't see what is right around them (like not being able to see how God is present and working in the neighborhood outside their own doors), Jesus sees that there was no reason for the disciples to have left to seek food elsewhere; it was right around them all along; they just had to get outside of themselves and their agenda and see what the world offered to them. The fields are ripe, but the church can't see it. 2. Part of that mission field is knowing how it is shaped by generational cultures. And so much of my notes is about the different generations, how a marker of our time is that we see such change and disruption from one generation to the next, whereas in the past there was more continuity between generations; and we have several generational cultures cohabitating at the same time which was not the case before. He divided up the generations as those born before 1925 who created the 20th century; then those born between 1925 and 1945 who are the builders and who favored mass standardization. Then between 1946 and 1964, the boomers, who created the experience economy and church as experience. Then those born from 1965 to 1983,the Gen X who stress relational, and family even if it is fictive family or their tribe of friends, who see themselves as survivors, wanting mentoring and lifeskills. And then those born between 1984 and 2000, the Millenials, who are exibiiting a turn toward community service and volunteering and renewed idealism after much of the cynicism of the Gen Xers. And then those born after 2000 who are simply the forming Next Generation. 3. He then talked about shifting from a focus on church growth to a focus on kingdom growth. That the world is the destination, not the church. Is church like an airport hub, or is church like a livewell with kept fish. We need to quit evangelizing . and start blessing. We need to move from being members or from all being minister to all being mission-aries. Start with community building agenda not church growth agenda. 4. The rise of Simple Church. There is a return to spiritual formation. Don;t think multiple site, but poly site; one vision in different places. The questions to ask yourself and those on your team: What do you enjoy doing? Where do you see God most at work in your life now? What would you like to see God do in your life in the next six to twelve months from now? Then how is it coming? How would you like to help other people? How can we pray for yiou? Our church scorecard needs to be their individual scorecard. Check into Be counter culture to consumer culture. Offer spiritual direction; ancient practices are connecting now. Be apostolic in your leadership, which means people invest in people who will make a difference in people. Move from planning to preparation. Our DNA needs to be based on Vision, Values, Results, Strengths, and Learnings. We are shifting the scorecard oif success. We need to develop missionaries of relationship. Hand off ministry. Church is undergoing a Template Change.

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