I’ve been working my way through a couple of books I’d like to recommend. One of them has the obvious title: The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk. The other is The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church by (highly recommended by my sister, Sheila who knows way more than most people about this stuff).
From this morning’s reading in Roxburgh’s work and from a few conversations I’ve had with some colleagues, these are just a few of the questions/concerns that I suspect might be helpful to consider.
- Among progressive Christians, I think there is a very real need to address concerns around the word “missional”. I am surprised at how much “push back” I’ve gotten regarding the problematic history around the concept of “doing mission” and the “Missionary movement”. I do think we need the word. But I think there may be more imagining that needs to be done about how to re-embrace it.
- Roxburgh (p. 14) suggests a first step will be to fully engage the deep and wide nature of the change this paradigm offers. It is not simply a repackaging of an old program. Helping congregations understand the nature of change around them and within them will have implications in every area of life together. This, I think, will also be the hardest thing for most grasp – this is not semantic change, it is not tweeking, it is not glacial change in slow, deep, incrementally measurable steps. It is Haiti-earthquake change that has shifted things so dramatically it is essential to learn how to recreate something new within what already exists.
- What would happen if leaders turned their focus from: “How can our congregation organize itself to survive?” to “How can we create an environment within which the people of God may thrive? (Roxburgh, ch. 1)”
- What would happen if congregations remembered/realized they are people of God called to be a unique social community whose very life together is a sign, witness and foretaste of what God is doing in and for creation? (Roxburgh, ch. 1)
- How can we cultive the missional imagination of the people of God in the midst of massive cultural change? (Roxburgh, ch. 1) The kind of change in the world today is not a connect-the-dots, continuous flow kind of change for which our programmatic way of “doing” church was created, but rather a chaotic flight of the butterfly kind of change for which most of us have neither the skillset, nor the mindset to address. People in the middle of that raucous kind of change in their every day life are likely to resist it in their church, too.
Those are just a few thoughts on a sunny day in Arizona.