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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Being Missional and Progressive: Various Welcome Statements About How We Try To Do It

A Variety of Portals and Welcome Statements About The Welcome Table Church. Free Universalist Christian Missional Community.

Following the radical Jesus in deeds not creeds; though we may gain much wisdom from the historic creeds, we are not bound by them. Join us in service to our community throughout the week. That is the primary way we become church. Our Welcome Table of Worship is open to all who welcome all, regardless of belief or denomination, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, economic status, or political affiliations. We don’t think Jesus would have it any other way.

Free because God works in freedom so we are non-creedal. We don’t give theological tests for admission, but encourage you to test us and try us to see if this way is for you. Universalist because we believe God is Love and All who abide in Love abide in God, and God’s love is for all for all time. Christian because the generous compassionate way and story of Jesus, is our primary pathway opening up to God. Missional because we are sent to serve others more than ourselves, building up God’s beloved community more than our own, putting our time talent and treasure more into the world than into our own organization. Community because we are made not to be autonomous individuals but to be a people of God.

We are a simple church, but it can be a deep struggle to live toward true freedom, to practice God’s love for all, to follow the liberating Jesus who was crucified for his radical ways of hospitality and justice, to live for and serve others more than self, and to put community first. We invite those who wish to struggle with us, to fail with us, and to continue struggling with us. Worship gatherings and common meal are our times to refresh our spirits for the service of God.

Here is a rewrite of the principles from The Center for Progressive Christianity, signalling our approach to religion.

1. The radically loving and liberating Jesus is central to our community's experience of God.
2. Jesus isn't the only way to experience God. It is good to let other experiences of God into our lives.
3. Communion is the way we worship, and is about God's welcome table for all, and our committment to a life of hospitality and justice throughout the week.
4. We will worship and work with anyone toward creating a just and more loving world; we don't give theological tests for being with us.
5. How we live in love deepens and reveals our faith more than our particular beliefs do. We honor the uncertainty, and change, of beliefs, but also the risk of committment.
6. Freedom is rooted in community, not in individual likes and dislikes, and must be nurtured in community.
7. We are called to resist evil done against Creation and against all of the most vulnerable, and must look to our own blessings and privileges of life that are contributing to injustice.

The Covenanted Community, adapted and extended from Tich Nhat Hanh:
1. We show up.
2. We pay atttention
3. We speak truth in love
4. We stay focused on mission, and flexible on how to accomplish it
5. When we fail at 1 through 4, We show up.

The five smooth stones, adapted and altered from James Luther Adams and several sources:
1. Truth and meaning is ever being revealed anew, but this can mean also finding truth and meaning in forgotten or neglected or discarded ways.
2. Our relationships rest on mutuality and free consent and persuasion, not coercion.
3. Our committments are aimed at a just community.
4. Goodness must be incarnated in life if it is to be real.
5. We acknowledge the power of evil but believe hope and love and an abundant Universe are ultimate.

The Three R's of Christian Community Development:
1. Relocate to the abandoned places of Empire (or remain, or return)
2. Redistribute goods and The Good
3. Reconcile peoples who are divided, broken, separate.

The Four Paths of Missional Church: World, We, I, God
1. First, Scatter out into the world beyond ourselves and Serve others. We are Sent People because God is a Sending God.
2. As we do the first, next Grow loving community, in order to do the first path more fully, and to reflect that God is always a Relational God.
3. Then focus on Growing Your Soul, in one's heart, mind, body, and spirit. The more we grow personally the more we have to give along the second path of community.
4. Finally, Respond with Worship: Gather together in Gratitude for being able to walk the first three paths and for the Renewal of self needed to sustain our walk with God found in all of these paths.

The Six Spiritual Practices of our Missional Community
1. Pray daily
2. Worship at least weekly.
3. Check in spiritually with another at least monthly
4. Go on Retreat at least annually.
5. Commit to going on a once in a lifetime pilgrimmage.
6. Practice random acts of kindness and beauty daily.

The 3 Characteristics of an Emerging Church
1. Focus on the life of Jesus.
2. Blur the artificial boundaries and places of the secular and the spiritual
3. Live in Community.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More missional church related links

Some links about missional communities:
1. A little wordy but covers the bases.

2. I have quoted this Fast Company article a lot about very slim chances of existing established especially shrinking churches to transform into missional:

3. A list of some places doing it anyway.