Thursday, March 27, 2014

Updated MIssional Church Nuggets

The Missional Church Conversation
Rev. Ron Robinson

We have entered an era where we need a “bigger bandwidth” of church manifestations because we are not in a one-size or kind fits all world any longer.
The Church Doesn’t Have or Create A Mission; The Mission Creates and Has The Church. Go to others; not expect others to Come to us (recognize shift from churched to unchurched culture); Be Incarnational more than Attractional.

Church is not to be content to be a safe home until all homes are safe. Church is not to be content to be growing and thriving in a community that is suffering and declining. Don’t be the best church IN your community, but be the best church FOR your community. From internal to external ministries, from programs to people, from church-based to world-based leadership development.
Church of the 3Rs: Relocation. Reconciliation. Redistribution. Growing teams of “remainers, returners, relocaters” for renewal in “Abandoned Places of the Empire”. Connect The Disconnected. Grow Faith Where Life Happens
A Mission Statement doesn’t equal Mission. Focusing on mission as purpose is not the same as missional which, from the Greek word missio, to be sent.
Missional has turned upside down the old connotation of the missionary; now being missional is not about the church going to convert the world, but going into the world to be converted by it, to discover how best to serve it and transform it and ourselves, by “meeting God already present and active in the neighborhood.”
The Post-Modern Culture: We no longer compartmentalize; we live in a blurry yet holistic world; boundaries of sacred and secular overlap; spiritual and material, personal and political or social are not kept separate; no one can go it alone in such a world; the church and non faith based nonprofits and business and government and philanthropic groups all need to play a part in the Mission, but they won’t inhabit completely separate realms but will be partnering. Can’t say this problem is only for government or this role is only for the church. Post Modern EPIC Characteristics: Experiential, Participative, Image-Driven, Communal. Emerging Church Characteristics: Focus on life of Jesus, blurring secular/sacred spaces, and community.

Four Paths, or The Loop, of Church-ing: 1. Missional Service; 2. Community Life; 3. Discipleship/Leadership; 4. Worship that refreshes the soul for service.

Focus not on “a church” but on “the church” which can have many manifestations. Church not a what, but a who; Church anywhere, anytime, by anyone. Postcongregational. Grow smaller to do bigger things.

Ask the questions: if your church ceased to exist, who would notice and who would be affected? Who does your heart break for? (along with, from Engaging with Sacred Texts, who does God’s heart break for?)

12 Marks of New Monasticism:
1.     "Relocation to Abandoned Places of Empire."
2.     "Sharing Economic Resources with Fellow Community Members."
3.     "Hospitality to the Stranger."
4.     "Lament for Racial Divisions Within the Church and Our Communities Combined with the Active Pursuit of a Just Reconciliation."
5.     "Humble Submission to Christ's Body, the Church."
6.     “Intentional Formation in the Way of Christ and the Rule of the Community Along the Lines of the Old Novitiate."
7.     "Nurturing Common Life Among Members of Intentional Community."
8.     "Support for Celibate Singles Alongside Monogamous Married Couples and Their Children."
9.     "Geographical Proximity to Community Members Who Share a Common Rule of 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."

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.