Thursday, August 18, 2011

Missional communities

One of the key realisations for the church in these days is the acknowledgement that we have become a post-Christian culture or some commentators are calling us pre-Christian. The implications of this is that our dialogue is no longer with a nation who view their lives or their morality through a Judeo-Christian paradigm. 'Proper morals' as Mr Cameron likes to call them is now a relative thing to most. Steve Addison in Movements that change the world starts his book with a wonderful account of the life of St Patrick and his extraordinary missionary endeavours. It is well worth a read.

Here's the big idea: "You are a missionary"  You might reply, "No I'm not, I live in a Christian country". Answer: "No, you don't".  That's why I am calling you this: "A missionary." Just like St Patrick.

If we start to view things in missional terms the change of thinking essentially requires a shift from 'You come to us' to 'We come to you' and there has never been a more important time for us to get to grips with this. It really has dramatic consequences for how we organise and see 'church' and what it is. It becomes rather less of a gathered weekly worship experience and requires instead living seven day a week shared lives. The latter is a much higher bar that will take some adjusting to- at least it does for me.

A few churches have awakened to this and Mike Breen is probably the leading proponent of this shift to mission-focussed groups and living. These are the churches that I know have enacted this change but I am sure there are more: St Thomas Crooks, St Mary's and their Clusters, St Barnabas Kensington (my former church), The Crowded House, The Point and St Andrew's Chorleywood.

If you want some reading on this: Breakout, Missional Renaissance, Breaking the missional code, Clusters, Total Church, Buiand The  Passionate Church should get you started.

After a few years of thinking about all this, I now believe that recent events put fresh challenge on what it means to truly engage people with the love of Jesus for the transformation of society. This film will give you a flavour. It's called 'What do missional communities look like?' and Jeff Vanderstelt's tears at the end of it really moved me.

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