Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Church Of Others: reports and resources: Day One

Here are some recent observations leading up to the workshop I led on the organic, missional, monastic expressions of church earlier this month. I will divide them into different days.

Bottom line observation is that the default position for many people still seems to be that church is for people who are like us, or will become like us, or who benefit from what we do. Everything seems to fall out around that one engrained belief. Even what we call outreach and mission is too often done with the framework that it is what "we" "do" "for others" improving our lives and their lives often and even the world. At its best this form of church helps grow God's presence. There will be people for this form of the church, and all forms of the church that root themselves in mission can learn from one another. As years are going by we need more forms of the church though, for the resources needed to keep creating and growing even the most healthy of these forms of church will be harder to come by, and the results they realize will be harder to come by, though they may stay dominant throughout the next generations.

Everything that I write about and point to in the following blogposts is about envisioning and reporting on other expressions of church--not necessarily new by any means, but which seem to be shaped by a belief that there can also be Church Of Others. Not just for others or even with others, but of others. We will come back to that.

First I want to simply begin posting some of the resources and ideas that I used in the recent workshop; for those who were there you can get access to them beyond the hardcopy you received (sorry I didn't get a chance to make CDs for all as I had hoped) and there is some new stuff that you didn't receive because of my illness that cut the workshop week short. For those not there I hope the resources, summaries, observations that are at times pulled from this blog itself will be useful wherever you are in your own ways of becoming the church.

Day One Overviews

Organic To Organizational: becoming part of “the” church, not “a” church
Missional/Incarnational and Attractional: becoming church not attending church; church is created in response to mission, not church having a mission. The mission has a church.
Monastic and “Collection of religiously-oriented Individuals”

Natural Church Development (see later posts for more on this in the essay on emerging small groups the Jesus Way)
Life Transformation Groups

Why Now?
An expression of larger Postmodern Emergent Church focuses (EPIC standard of Experience, Participation, Image, and CommunityConnection). Challenge for Catholicism is Modernity; challenge for Protestantism is Postmodernity; Progressive/liberals are hyper-modernists, meta-protestants, so the challenge is more acute for us.
Small is the next big thing; post-boomers;

Breaking dualism of Sunday Spirituality vs. rest of life; of sacred and secular places; beyond creedalism

Does It (organic, missional, monastic, emergent etc.) Have To Be Christian? Yes and No. Many people/churches that say Lord Lord all the time but have no sense of incarnation still won't get it; many people/churches who are not Christian-centric may be able to incarnate Christ even easier, and I believe if you follow the way of Jesus even without calling it that that you will eventually meet and embrace Jesus; but churches without a theological point of view who have replaced it with a sociological point of view will find it harder to have what is necessary: a transcendental calling beyond themselves that makes being missional part of the bloodstream. People need to reflect on the question of why do we have the purpose or mission of our church that we have. Let those responses guide them. If it doesnt lead them to something transcendent and into a different life than likely all efforts at renewing church will run aground.

Organic Missional Stepping Stones (a recipe that should be followed step by step, from Hirsch and Frost's The Forgotten Ways handbook)
1. (Jesus) is Lord: have a meta-narrative that creates mission; see above for why Jesus is in parenthesis; I have no interest in trying it without Jesus; I don't know if it can be; but I am not vain enough to think I have a handle on that, and in Jesus' own spirit of generosity, and in the ways some of this I believe has been present in ways unknown yet to me in other cultures and faith communities than I am leaving that open. But the meta-narrative? Yes.
2. Discipleship/Formation: how is no. 1 reflected in your life?
3. Missional-Incarnational Impulse: how is no. 1 reflected in being seeded in the world and serving others; communitas, not community
4. Apostolic/Multiplying Leaders
5. Organic Systems to support steps one through four


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