Thursday, March 27, 2014

Broken Church, Broken World, Broken Missio Dei: Taking first steps in and toward wholeness This is a good missional church site. This short recent post there points to the truth that all church revitalization needs to be grounded in, and directed to, the Missio Dei (use the language that fits for you but captures some sense of the Transcendent). If you don't, you spin your wheels, you burn out, you end up in deeper internal conflict because you haven't been aimed externally.

However, for many existing church communities where there has not been a healthy practice of leadership, of spiritual vulnerable and trust; churches where all of that has been broken and diminished; how do you take the necessary risks beyond your self, your community, your identity, that are first steps that need to be taken to live more missionally? To some extent, do you have to get yourself together first before you can live outside yourself?

Yes and no.

I think the worst thing an internally conflicted and spiritually unhealthy group can do is to focus on itself solely; it is why we say focus on the needs of the world and let that shape the needs of the church to be able to respond to the needs of the world. And often such a church is unhealthy because in large part it is focused on itself and doing things all together and doing things perfectly, afraid to fail, living in unnamed shame and guilt and fear. And so turning outside, knowing you do so as a broken internal community, is a way to become unstuck in that particular emotional field.

Still, it is vital in the permission-giving culture--which is a basis for missional movement--that practices of healthy leadership, accountability, transparency, "two or more" partnership teams and collaborations, good self-differentiated boundaries all be evidenced to be able to support the life of the church beyond its narrow self; otherwise you not only just move the arena for harm and likely harm others.

The vision, I think, is to teach and cast the practices of healthy leadership as the means to the end, and evaluate how it is being practiced or not, and acknowledging that it will be a growing reality not an already realized one, that mistakes will be made and feelings will be hurt and that grace will be present as well, even while working toward the missional ends.

The missio dei is then to be discovered and walked with both in the workings of the broken church, and in the workings of broken leaders too (but as a means to move the church beyond the church), and  in the workings of that spirit already at large in the broken world calling the church to come join it. And I would say, in a more radical theological move, this is all possible because the Missio Dei itself is broken, and/or incomplete, as well, needing the church and the world's creative healing participation to help it become more fully Itself to lift us up into our own fuller self.

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