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Archive for the ‘Missio Dei’ Category

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I’m reading Will Mancini’s book Church Unique and he has a very interesting history on the transition from church growth movement to a more missional movement.  Very interesting stuff so far.

But his comments got me thinking.  The former’s intent, which is based in a modern approach, was bent towards “getting people converted and into heaven.”  It was simple, concrete, straightforward, and could be broken down into steps.  These steps eventually became the basis of a very defined “sinner’s prayer”.  The specific contents of that prayer may have varied in different circles but the intent was the same.  The focus was on a specific moment of belief.  It focused on attracting people in and leading them to one specific action.  The rest of the spiritual formation process leading to maturity unfortunately became secondary and to a large extent got lost in the last fifteen to twenty years.

The missional approach has a much different intent. It’s focused on engaging the Missio Dei and is geared toward restoration and reconciliation. It’s not simple, or concrete, nor straightforward.  It’s chaotic, squishy, oriented towards relationship, engaged in the practice of following Jesus, and is both inward and outward in its activity.  It’s specific “act” is following Jesus, which can be defined but not in the same way as the sinner’s prayer.  Instead it focuses on constant activity that is restorative, engaged in the world, surrounded by community, and focuses on love and trust.

This shift into the chaotic and uncontrolled is hard for people.  The large shift towards missional is interesting for people.  They know they want it but they don’t know yet “how” to engage it.  The parameters have yet to be set and people are still trying to figure it out.  And yet to engage the chaos is to encounter peace that surpasses the chaos.  It just takes a little while to get there.

As a side note, what is interesting to me, in reading some of Generation We, the current millenials were raised in this chaos.  They are used to it as a way of life.  And this is creating an awkward transition.

Where do you find yourself in the transition?

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Interesting Stuff

One of the most important articles on culture you will ever read. (ht)

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What if global warming is just not true?  Would it change your views of creation care?  I hope not.

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What is a car battery doing showing up the church by advertising God’s love in the middle of a Monday Night football game?  Good, I think.

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It’s sad to me that we can’t express our political thoughts without causing a stir.

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I have a friend who has been deeply hurt by someone important in his life.  And knowing what happened to him it is very easy to sympathize with his pain.  What she did was very hurtful and his anger was justified in some ways in the beginning. I think anger is a very important and necessary part of the grieving and healing process, for a time being.

But lately we’ve had some conversations about it and he’s still angry.  It been several years in fact since the original events happened.  And now every encounter with her is colored by the original events.  I recently asked him when he would let it go and he said several times, “I just can’t forgive her.”

When someone says, “I can’t forgive that person,” it’s easy to assume that they mean, “I won’t forgive.”  And sometimes this is true.  But I was thinking about times in my life that I have felt that way.  And I now wonder if the statement is more often a truly ironic statement.  I wonder if at these moments when I was essentially saying I won’t, I was really meaning I can’t.

Because how often do we really practice forgiveness?  Even as a church?  When a leader falls aren’t we more likely to crucify him than restore him?  When someone “falls” do we really take Jesus at his word when he said, forgive seventy times seven?

Forgiveness is just not a paradigm in which the world (and often the church) lives in.  We practice saying, “I’m sorry,” but how often is this for expediency because we need something from the other person or we don’t like people being mad at us.  And when the offense is high enough, thus seriously jeopardizing our reputation, it is just as easy to abandon the relationship.

Forgiveness essentially means, “to leave behind.”  But to leave offense behind means abandoning the very thing that allows us to be angry in the first place.  And the anger just feeds our desire to strike back harder the original offense.  And if we’ve never practiced forgiveness, how are we going to be able to do it when it is really required in our lives.  So without the understanding of how to forgive, we are essentially locked in a state of oppression…of our own free will.

Forgiveness requires love.  It requires stepping into our own humanity and seeing with eyes of compassion.  It means letting go of our right to remain wounded for the sake of sympathy.  It means stepping into our own maturity as human beings and seeing the person who hurt us as infinitely more valuable than any harm they could do to us.

And it is so easy for us to say, “Come on. Isn’t that a little hyperbole?  Isn’t that stretching it a little too far? But this is exactly what Jesus did on the cross.  He took the posture that no matter what we could do to him, we were still worth it.

I use to always get bent out of shape when I would read the way Jesus approached forgiveness.  He said things like:

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)

That’s just harsh. But what if Jesus understood that if we can’t forgive others we’re creating a standard that we will then use on ourselves.  Or that the standard we are using on others is indicative of the standard we are already using on ourselves.  Doesn’t forgiveness then essentially mean to release the very thing that is killing us?

And so when someone says, “I can’t, is it more restorative to approach them with an understanding that they are truly stuck, that the statement is indicative of something deeply troubling in their life?

Interested in your thoughts.

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If you participated before you can see all the responses here. I really loved last weeks interaction.  All kinds of stuff being experienced.

If you participated in some type of community today, how would you describe how you felt during the experience?  And if you didn’t, whow would you describe how you felt during that experience?

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One of the things I love about Missio Dei is that it still comes down to one thing: following Jesus.  We can talk about all the church growth programs, building problems, definitions, philosophies and any other thing you can think about, but at the end of the day it is stil about taking the risk to step in the same footsteps of this guy who changed our world 2,000 years ago.

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I had an interesting thought today about the word, “missional.”  If you type the word in Microsoft Word you’ll notice it gets underlined.  This means Microsoft thinks the word is misspelled or doesn’t exist.  Even in WordPress the word is not recognized.  This likely means the word hasn’t entered out lexicon as a general idea or thought.  It still lives on the fringes.

This really surprised me given our history of war as a human race.  It surprises me that we have never considered the word mission as a way of operating or moving.  It also means that the word can easily be misused, misread, ignored, abused, or treated unkindly.  And in a media saturated age where everything happens at light speed, the word can become passe very quickly.

I think this is because we’re still looking for and understanding what the mission is.  People want to live misisonally but they dont’ know what the mission looks like or how to engage it.  We’re still learning the story and what it means to follow Jesus into God’s mission.  We know how to talk about the right way to live, but we don’t know what it means to live the right way.  We’re good at hearing the word and even memorizing it, but we don’t know yet what it means to live it out.

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A Slow Growth

God is Brilliant!

I had a thought the other day while eating.  I eat because I like flavors and tend to eat too much.  And then food just sits in my stomach trying to digest, so I suffer for about an hour with the idea that I’ve apparently enjoyed a meal.  Basically I’ve caught myself in gluttony.

No this isn’t a post on the seven deadly sins.  I could count on six hundred fingers and toes the list of imperfect things about me.  And as I was sitting in Starbucks, I had a thought.  When we choose to follow Jesus we don’t become perfect in the sense that we stop screwing up.  And I was wondering out loud, why?  Why wouldn’t God create a situation where being empowered by the Holy Spirit immediately changes you to perfection?  It would seem to make sense, wouldn’t it.

But it doesn’t work like that.  The path to restoration is often painfully slow.

The Scriptures tells me that God still loves me.  I am being redeemed.  And to be honest some days I feel like God is not keeping up his ends of the bargain.  “Bring on the wholeness already.  I really am ready for it God.”  But I’m not done. I am then reminded of the days that I have felt done, that I have it all figured out.  What an ass I am.

And then I begin to realize that the problem isn’t God.  The real problem is me. I’m broken.   To follow Jesus puts me at odds with my brokenness.  When I stare myself in the face, I see the flaws and problems that I have inherited but refuse to let go of.  And it is at this moment that I am astounded that God can actually love me.  It would be easy to love Jesus.  He was perfect.  But how can God actually love me?  I sometimes don’t get it.

What if the problem is not simply our brokenness, which God tends to remove slowly and over time, but our ability to receive His love in spite of it.  My brokenness demands a verdict.  It shouts from the rooftops and begs to be heard.  And I can run, ignoring the bullhorn of my stupidity and feeble attempts at humanity, or I can face it and deal with its truth.  One requires courage and one a good pair of running shoes.

So I ponder the reality that my brokenness reflects the brilliance of His love.  It reveals God’s glorious nature, which is that He actually loves me…even in my brokenness.    Could I actually be of value to God, my Father?  Could love actually transcend my brokenness.  I want to know this God who could actually love me.  His love asks me to love my self at the deepest levels of my soul, to care for it and surrender it to back into the hands of my Father.

And this love doesn’t stop at my brokenness.  It calls me forward, to address my wounds, to confront the divides that have destroyed relationship.  It calls me to remove the obstacles between us.  I no longer want to walk away from but run to this God. And then it hit me.  Part of my restoration is my own participation in growing up.  If everything is done for me, if I never have to surrender, then I’m simply a passive observer. But if part of my growth requires me to get involved, to let go of my own bullshit, then I’m always being called into something.

When I look back on the journey, I realize that it was in the fumbling and falling that I was given the choice to continue.  Would I get back up?  And when I got back up, I was choosing to accept that love, to believe what my Father had told me.  And then I stand there realizing that it was the slow growth that made the story.  It was real.  It was true.  And it was mine.

Listening to: Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel

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