Monday, August 16, 2010

The Church Has Left The Building...and the T-shirt

Good missional stuff here

Rev. Sean's post includes a link and a recommendation about our ministry here, and about our current project need for the Miracle Among The Ruins and our deadline for raising funds for it and a link where you can go find out more and be a part of the amazing dream.

Much of it references back to work that the Episcopal Church is doing in various parishes to become more missional, more incarnational and less attraction oriented.

There is a line to cross though that many churches won't or can't or decide not to cross in the movement along the spectrum from churched culture church to missional community of faith. And they don't have to in order to be a church making a difference. That line is at the foundational question of why one becomes missional: is it just another program at trying to get more members, more baptisms, at getting the church noticed but in a newer way than before?

Is the ultimate goal, for example, to get Unitarian Universalism more noticed and in the consciousness of people, and/or to get more Unitarian Universalists, or Episcopalians, or xyz, to identify as such, and support our churches? Do we build a food pantry and food justice center so people will say look at what the UUs are doing? That's okay, by the way, and we probably need folks to do that, IF, IF, we also have a people at the far end of the missional spectrum who realize the mission is not to make more UUs by name and identity and number, or to get xyz church or the association name more widely known, but to create a world that more openly has embedded in it our values; and who know that sometimes the way to accomplish that mission is to actually empty one's self of the attachment to one's particular group identity, especially if it might be working against the mission itself.

The church doesn't leave the building in order to get more church members into the building on Sunday; the church leaves the building in order to become the church.

Side note: Many kudos to all who help protest various events, issues, etc. by wearing tshirts that identify them as being in a particular religious affiliation, but I wonder sometimes if that doesn't draw attention to them and the faith community instead of to the people and issue at hand? Were there tshirts like that at Selma? I don't recall any. Perhaps. I remember people as people standing together. It isn't a big deal I know; probably lots of good reasons to do so, and it might just be a matter of personality; or it might be that we carry our message-driven print and identity obsessed culture with us wherever we go; even when we are working with and for others we have to stand out as us. And then it becomes about us, and showing what we stand for, and that feeds into the culture that makes it hard to do the radical, red pill taking, missional transformation. This might be one of those cases when it is definitely a losing battle, though, and it is so post-modern to brand one's self with tshirts, the ink and body art extension of a group identity, that the fact it subtly works against missional approaches will not be able to stop the usage, unless there is already a missional subversion at work, especially by the young, in response to the whole pomo cultural revolution.

We need all kinds of churches taking all kinds of approaches to being church, but we have so few on the missional end that we need to spend some time and energy here for a while; we need a few more churches doing like what the churches in the article linked to do---sell their building, break up into smaller missional churches, and go forth and multiply.

1 comment:

Matthias said...

When people think of my church NEW COMMUNITY RINGWOOD in RINGWOOD,VICTORIA AUSTRALIA, i like them to think of a church that :
runs a soup kitchen
-has an opportunity shop wehre funds raised assist in local and lgobal programs
- the support we give to hospitals and schools in East timor and to an orphange in India ,plus helping women becoem trained as dressmakers so that they can be financially independent.