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Archive for the ‘Missional’ Category

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What if you could transform Christmas? Would you?

As Christmas approaches many of us are asking the same questions. We’re no longer interested in the idea of buying for the sake of buying. We’re interested in discovering the redemptive meaning of Christmas.  Are our relationships deepening?  Are we stepping into what it means to love  our neighbor in a restorative way?  Are we giving of ourselves in a way that truly has value?

Americans spend an average of $450 billion on Christmas. That’s 1,485 dollars for every man, woman, and child in America.  And yet are we really experiencing the original meaning of Christmas?  To solve the world’s clean water problem would require only $10 billion dollars.  What that means is the problem is not only solvable, it’s easily within our reach.

We would like to extend an invitation to participate with us this year in transforming Christmas from purchasing and getting to really giving.  Our goal is simple: To transform Christmas by gathering families together and sacrificially purchasing as many wells as we can.

We’re working with Advent Conspiracy and Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that has a long history of working with the poor and oppressed in the world. A well costs about $800 to repair or retrofit.  That’s less than the average spending per American to transform the life of a village. It costs about $2,500 to rehabilitate a non-working well and about $15,000 to drill a large well that serves a large village.

And we’re not asking you to just write a check on top of everything.  We’re asking you to consider working with us as a way of stepping into the deeper meaning of Christmas, a day when love entered the world in a profound way.  We’re asking you to consider giving sacrificially in place of the traditional mad rush of gift giving we typically do.

We’ve also created a brochure to understand what we’re doing, invite friends to participate, dream bigger, and help transform the meaning of Christmas.

Donwload it here.

If you do participate with us, feel free to steal the bug on the right or the banner from this post to spread the word.

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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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Posted an interesting article that I posted over at Emergent Village. It’s called “Pastor Abandons His Church.”  Love to get your thought on it over there.

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tangible2Summary: The Tangible Kingdom, Creating Incarnational Community, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay is a great starter book for those looking to create the initial framework for a missional type community that goes beyond the walls of traditional Sunday church.

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The Tangible Kingdom begins with a rather compelling story of Hugh finding his own transition out of traditional church and into a more missional approach.  He engages what many would call an epiphany moment of being Jesus to the least of these.  Hugh recounts meeting Fiona and the rest of a late night crew in a Irish Pub and realizing that it takes love to reach people.

This beginning captures me right from the start.  Hugh’s own journey out of traditional community and into what it looked like to start his own “incarnational” community took time and patience.  The book will serve as a practical reminder of not just the tangible expressions of this type of community but also the emotional roller coaster that those who attempt it will encounter.  But Hugh makes it very clear that it was definitely worth the ride.

Most of the book is Hugh’s journey in starting Adullum. Adullum appears to be an emerging community that is really taking to heart what it means to be missional in a community. Matt is referenced but seems to contribute only the questions at the end of the chapter.  Hugh has some great conversations about what it means to be missional that serve as great starting points to reaching out to those in your community.  His ideas on “posture” and “missionary as advocate” should be Reading 101.

Hugh makes it very clear right from the beginning that he is confrontational in style.  His critique of Christendom is well founded but will, as even he admits, rub many the wrong way.  If you let this get in the way of the book, you’ll be missing some real juicy stuff.

The one critique I have of the book is the lack of perspective on discipleship.  Hugh does little to let us in on how he is helping people follow in the the footsteps of Jesus in a smaller context.  But, many would rightly argue that just created an incarnational community as a church context is a great start.  My hope is that Hugh would address this in future books.  And let me be clear that this in no way a knock on the book.

The target of this book, which was published by The Leadership Network is clearly pastors. Hugh and Matt are talking about a model for churches.  But I would offer that those who are leading small groups or communities could learn just as much from the book.

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Over the last 9 months Jeromy and I have been leading a emergent cohort.  It has been a fascinating exercise in listening and learning.  Both Jeromy and I simply wanted to create a safe space for people to discuss their questions, comments, stories and experiences within the church and in following Jesus.  We wanted to practice a generative dialog.

Creating this space was deeply valuable.  It gave both Jeromy and I the space to work through our own questions, mostly in the car rides to and from the cohort, but also within.  We talked about every possible conversation you could imagine from heaven to hell, salvation to conversion, following Jesus to walking away, and homosexuality to women in pastoral roles.  We explored McLaren, Pagitt, Jones, Scandrette, and many other authors.  It was awesome.

But over the last month or two we began noticing a trend.  People stayed for about 2-3 meetings and then disappeared.  And as much as we loved the conversations, many of the same questions were being asked by everyone.  “What is the point of the group?”  As Jeromy and I wrestled with that question over dinner this past week, we began to really ask if it was simply to ask and answer questions?  Is the point of the group simply dialog and generative conversation?

In the beginning it was.  But now we were no longer sure.

We recognized that the one thing that held us together was this fascinating person called Jesus.  Anything we changed would likely need to center on what it meant to follow in order for us to want to participate on a regular basis.

And as we explored the idea with those in the cohort we saw an idea began to emerge (no pun intended).  What if we as a group explored what it meant to practice following Jesus together.  Each month would essentially be about hearing the stories of the experiments from the previous meeting and exploring the next experiment.

Our first experiment is to practice being love to our neighbor every day until the next cohort, or about 30 days.  We defined “neighbor” as anyone we would come into contact with.  It was simple, brilliant and inspiring. We’re going for tremendous courage and tremendous grace.  If someone sees an opportunity, we’re going for it.  If we fail to remember we’re not beating ourselves over the head.  We’re just living into the life of Jesus for those around us.

I have to admit that the idea got my heart racing: practice love on a daily basis and to do it with people looking for something more?  Big ideas raced through my head at the simplicity of it all.  I was diggin’ the new direction.  This was something I could show up for.

We started a Facebook group if you would like to join us in the experiments.

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Rob Bell Interview

This is a fascinating interview Rob Bell gave with Cameron Strang discussing Rob’s book, “Jesus Wants To Save Christian“, a missional narrative, exile, the new humanity, and his thoughts on critics.

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What Am I Contributing

Ask yourself today, “What am I contributing?”  It’s so easy to get caught up in a consumer culture and get lost in the mode of taking.  But where are you contributing to the culture, your family, your friends, and the world around you?  It is those people who contribute on a regular basis that make a difference in the world.  It is those people who contribute that we remember.

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