Thursday, November 10, 2011

Resources On Connecting with Your Missional Field

Here are a few samples of resource handouts I will be using during the engaging your missional field workshop this weekend at the Fall Leadership Conference, Evangelizing The South, held at Glen Rose, Texas, by

Engaging Your Missional Field with The 3R’s of Missional Ministry:  Relocation, Redistribution, Reconciliation

1.     Location: Go As Local As Possible. Pick your Parish. Who you gonna serve? Narrow Your Scope to Make the Most Difference with your Resources. A block? A neighborhood? A Demographic Group?  Begin with concerns about changing the community around you, not with concerns about changing the church.

2.     Relate With Remainers, Returners, Relocators.  Connect these groups. Embed Yourself. Find the “peaceful presences” to partner with.  Various ways to relocate: physically with your residence, moving your church, or regrouping your church, or just with classes, your board meets outside its own building; your social events, even your worship; think of all the ways you can take what happens inside your building and do it with others in your community.

3.     Choose the Abandoned Places of Empire for your mission field: the first of the 12 Steps of New Monasticism. See handout for all 12.

4.     People lead to partnerships and to the particular projects you choose as long as they fit within your overarching Mission Vision Values. (For us, the mission is a given: Luke 4, Matthew 25, and the values from 8 Points TCPC, 7 Principles UUA). Is your own truncated sense of mission and mission statements holding you back from engaging in mission? Looking and Living Outwards will help you to grow within your community as well; what are the connection and the gifts of all the people including especially those on the fringes who can connect you with others?

5.     Listen, Learn, Follow. Know the data, know the history, know the leaders, but also pay attention to the margins and the fringe folk, those new in the community you are serving, just as you should within your own; do windshield tours and walking, talking, community forums.

6.     Experiment and Fail your way to Success. Don’t wait to serve. Be wary of planning; instead prepare. Be wary of Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Be wary of your dream of community interfering in growing community. Don’t fall in love with your vision statement.

7.     Balance the needs of the partners from outside your area providing service and the needs of the neighbors receiving it; err on the side of neighbors; create your own non profit and work with non profits and governments. See handout.

8.     Moving from Come to Us to Go Be With Them. Know Yourself and Your Context and the Disconnect between them. Figure out where you fall on the Missional Field Scale. See handout.

9.     Growing Smaller to Make Bigger Changes in the World; also grow in multiplicity moreso than with addition; develop growing overlapping missional communities; turn all small groups and circles within the church into missional communities with a service component.

10.                         Permission Giving culture; turn over to others. Simplify how things get done.

11.                        Going Missional is more than another outreach program added on; it is core; affects budget, building, board, programs. 3 Sets of missional practices (Alan Roxburgh and Scott Duren, Introducing the Missional Church): 1. Cultivating Sacred Presence, ie worship, prayer, spiritual disciplines; 2. Demonstrating Love, through life together (cannot be done by a conglomeration of individualists who see each other only at formal meetings); 3. Engaging the neighborhood.

12.                         Meeting needs is not the starting point for incarnational mission. “When missionaries start with the need, hoping they will one day get to know poor people personally, they are likely to be found 10 years later, still addressing the need,” John Hayes, of InnerChange, which brings us back to relocating physically, getting to know people as friends, as givers not just as receivers,

 Cultural Distance and Missional Engagement

Adapted from Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People by Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford

How we perceive the relationship of our church in our contexts. Demonstrating the difficulties in remaining and growing as an attractional only church.

How far is a person or group from a meaningful engagement with your church’s core message and practices?


Each numeral with the prefix m indicates one significant cultural barrier to the meaningful communication of your core message and practices. What makes it difficult for “them” to “come to us”:

Examples of cultural barriers: language, race, nationality, religion, worldview, economical class, educational attainment, age, occupations, family size, political leanings, etc.

m0-1: Those with some concept of Unitarian Universalism who speak the same language, have similar interests, probably the same nationality and are from a similar class grouping as you or your church. Most of your friends would probably fit into this bracket.

M1-2: Here we go to the average non-UU in our context: a person who has little real awareness or interest in UUism but is suspicious about the church (they have heard bad things). They may be open to spirituality, socially aware, but have been offended previously by church, some call them “bad fruit” and are hard to reach.

m2-3: People in this group probably have no idea about UUism. Or they might be part of some ethnic group with different religious impulses. This category also likely describes people actively antagonistic toward UUism as they understand it, e.g. Christian fundamentalists.

m3-4: This group might be inhabited by ethnic and religious groups with a bad history with historical Western religious communities, such as have Muslims and possibly Jews. The fact that they are in the West in greater numbers now ameliorates some of this distance but they are highly resistant to the culture of “church” by whatever name; some immigrant and refugee communities fit in here too.


Our church has a distinct culture and so do the people we are trying to reach. All mission in Western contexts now must be considered cross-cultural enterprises.

The attractional model of church requires the other to do all the work in crossing the cultural divide. They have to be the missionaries.

Compounding this is the dynamic of how people who join churches, often within three to five years, have no meaningful relationships with anyone outside the church. So if we do bring them in and socialize them to our group we cut them off from their host community where they could help us continue to connect.
If you are looking for measures of missional engagement, see how your community is doing according to the 12 Marks of New Monastic Communities, adapted: 1. Relocate to the abandoned places of Empire. 2. Share economic resources with one another and with others. 3. Hospitality to the stranger. 4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities, combined with an active pursuit of a just reconciliation. 5. Connection with other churches. 6. Intentional formation of spiritual life borrowing from the lines of the old monastic formation rules. 7. Nurturing common life among members in an intentional community. 8. Support for singles, celibacy, alongside families and couples. 9. Geographic proximity to community members who share a common rule for life. 10. Care for the plot of God’s Earth Given to us along with support of our local economies. 11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution. 12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
Rules For Radicals in Mission
From Alan Roxburgh’s Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, with acknowledgment to Saul Alinsky
1.     Go Local. Truly Live in your neighborhood. Also instead of creating church programs to invite people to, lets make the neighborhood the focus of our creativity and commitment and turn the local church into the center of formation for the equipping, sending, and resourcing of people in the local.
2.     Leave Your Baggage At Home. Relate with people as people not as objects for your purposes. The local church learns to become like strangers who receive the hospitality of the people in the community.
3.     Don’t Move From House to House. Bloom where you are planted. Follow the call to stability and place in the 21st century. A truly counter cultural move.
4.     Eat what is set before you. Be ready to meet the other person in the ways that are comfortable for them.
5.     Become Poets of the Ordinary. Listen and tell the stories of the people.
6.     Move the Static into the Unpredictable. How are the local church’s arteries becoming hardened. Creating non-anxious presences so anxiety can be surfaced and change faced. Appreciative inquiry with others.
7.     Listen people into speech. Creating space in the community, and in the local church, for this to happen.
8.     Experiment Around the Edges. Don’t rush to fix an identified problem with a program; open up and try small things like asking and talking with others, doing something small. Help people do their own work of discovery.
9.     Cultivate experiments, not BEHAGS, big hairy audacious goals; what to resist to allow number eight to happen. BEHAGS tend to perpetuate feelings of being in control, instead of entering into vulnerability, and trust.
10.                        Repeat Rules one through nine over and over again. Change comes through practice.
Map The Neighborhood: Assets Resources Hazards, Listen to stories, where do peoples gather, including virtually, from bus stops to coffee shops, workplaces, et al.
What issues are important to various groups? Who speaks for the community? What are they saying? Who doesn’t have a voice?Why? Who are the historians and poets of the community? What are they saying? Who has power, and who doesn’t and why? What topics concerning the neighborhood keep coming up?
….when did you first move in? what brought you here? What are your best memories of the neighborhood? What do you like best about the area? Tell me about your family. Does your extended family live here too? What would you love to see happen in this community?
Missional Communities Resources: A Sample List
Books: The Almost Church Revitalized by Michael Durall;
Missional Renaissance and also Missional Communities by Reggie McNeal;
The Shaping of Things To Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch;
Introducing the Missional Church, and also Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, by Alan Roxburgh
Right Here, Right Now by Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford
The Abundant Community by John McNight and Peter Block, see also McKnights Turning Communities Inside Out
The Faith of Leap, by Hirsch and Michael Frost
Exiles by Michael Frost;
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch,
Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan (most of the books on this list are very contemporary; Donovan’s pivotal book is from the 70s);
Welcoming Justice by John Perkins,
Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins,
Follow Me To Freedom by John Perkins and Shane Claiborne,
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne,
Houses That Change The World, Wolfgang Simson,
Change The World by Michael Slaughter
Emerging Church by Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs,
The Organic Church and Search and Rescue, both by Neil Cole,
Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen,
The New Conspirators by Tom Sine,
The New Friars, and also Living Mission by Scott Bessenecker,
The Tangible Kingdom and Gathered and Sent by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay;
The New  Monasticism and School(s) for Conversion, both by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove,
Economy of Love, by Claiborne and others
Church Morph by Eddie Gibbs,
Reimagine The World by Bernard Brandon Scott,
Revolution by George Barna,
Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola,
UnChristian by David Kinnamon;
The Secret Message of Jesus, especially appendix, by Brian McLaren,
Under The Radar by Bill Easum,
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor,
Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer,
Inside The Organic Church by Bob Whitesel.
Lyle Schaller’s books especially The New Contexts For Ministry, and What We Have Learned, and From Geography to Affinity,
Postmodern Pilgrims by Leonard Sweet and his other books, and the other books by Bill Easum and Tom Bandy, and The House Church Manual by William Tenny-Brittain
The Small Church At Large by Robin Trebilcock.
A few Films: Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day story; Romero; The Least of These; Briars in the Cotton Patch: Koinonia; Places in the Heart, The Spitfire Grill, Chocolat, Babette’s Feast, Man on Wire, The Blind Side, The Mission, The Shawshank Redemption, October Sky, The Blues Brothers, Of Gods and Men. See also videos Economy of Love by Shane Claiborne, and Justice For The Poor from Sojourners, with Jim Wallis.

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