Monday, June 22, 2009

Missional - Part IV - Not Just Missions

Ok, I'm still struggling with how to put together my thoughts on the next step in my Missional posting. Unfortunately, that's only part of why it's been 3 weeks since I posted. I got out of the habit and into the thought of "if I can't make it perfect, it doesn't deserve to go up" - which is wrong. If this is indeed a Spiritual Discipline, as I've planned this blog to be - not just for everyone else, as if I'm publishing something millions are reading, but a way for me to interact with God & myself, then it simply needs to go up. Well, here's the middle ground: I'm adding a step in here, to say simply, that Missional is not simply bringing 19th & 20th Century "missions" into a more prominent place in the Church.

Granted, I'm less than 2 weeks from returning to Honduras with another Mission team from our church. This will be my 4th team in 15 months, and I've only been at Liberty for 2 years come July 1. So, there's still part of me that is taking part in Missions the "old fashioned way" if you want to say that, but that's not all missional is. And, this probably doesn't get much better of a segue into what I've been wanting to say than this - being Missional, being the church, isn't just about doing missions "out there." While the outward focused, living for the world is a the heart of Missional, at the heart of the church (since it, by it's very nature exists for the world), there still remains a certain interior life, and this interior life of the Church is not divorced from God's Mission, it is not secondary, it is not tertiary, it is not subservient to the outward movement of the body of Christ. The Life Together to borrow from another German Pastor/Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is that other side of the Christian Community's life lived for the world. And if it is indeed the hand-in-glove, mirror image of that, Missions, as experienced and participated in for years by the Christian church in the West is NOT what it means to be missional. It's not something we do apart from the "regular" work of the church. It's not something others do apart from what we do that is the work of the church.

So next, on to this interior life and how it IS part of a proper understanding of the Missional Nature of the Church...

Missional - Part I: The New Christian Buzzword
Missional - Part II: The very Nature of the Church
Missional - Part III: Living For the World

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Discerning... (miniature hiatus - Missional Coming)

The next segment in the Missional Discussion is coming soon. I've been wrestling with how best to look at the dichotomy of the outside versus inside existence of the church. Not so much the "in-but-not-of" that many discuss, but more of a discussion of the internal relationality of the church not at the expense of the external mission. It's also being informed by a book I'm slowly reading - Van Gelder's the ministry of the missional church, which I'd taken a mini break from as well.

Part of the lack of finishing off this thought process has also been a lack of fueling the fire, which simply cannot be a way to exist in ministry, let alone live. I expect to return to the series by the end of the week. In the meantime, something that's recently come up is recognizing the leading of God in the Holy Spirit and how we recognize what to do with a given word or concept.

Two cases in point: I've had 3-4 conversations regarding Adult Sunday School - something we don't have as a program, at Liberty. We don't have a simple place to direct new/young believers to or to encourage people with to grow/deepen their faith. It's on the "agenda" but wasn't #1 - until 3-4 conversations prompted it toward the front of my mind, followed by a committee meeting Monday night, where it bubbled to the top, without my leading. In fact, it was on the agenda as a topic for another meeting - way down at the bottom.

The second is more personal. I was offered the use of a home for vacation/rest as someone was prompted by God in worship, combined with multiple personal events & a couple people sharing their own issues with rest/sabbath. This issue, unlike the other, looks to have a time sensitivity that does not allow me to act immediately. I don't think I could take a vacation in the next 3 months aside from what we're already doing. And when I look at my schedule in 3-4 months, I can't imagine that's a good idea either. So, I took this thought process down to a much smaller level - maybe there's something I can do right now, or in a day or two - take a mini spiritual retreat.

Personally, I believe God is continually at work through the Holy Spirit, leading & guiding us into things and places where we can be effective in being who we are, in being healthy people, in taking part in God's mission in the world. The key it seems to me, is discerning how we pick up on what we see & hear, how we're prompted, what that leads to. There are always so very many moving pieces in discerning the direction of God's leading. I'm always curious to hear what people use as their rubric for determining how to finally act...