I’m a total Sci-Fi fanatic. Most of the sci-fi-post-apocalyptic movies or books that come out get me all jazzed up. I’m fascinated with the concept of how humanity survives when the existing structures previously depended upon on are no longer dependable. In some ways this is how I lean into “being the church”. How can the western body of Christ survive the impending collapse? How will the mission of the church survive the future?
Cultivating a missional perspective is one of the most important recalibrations that a church can make for the future. I am greatly encouraged by this move, but I’ve observed that when a church “goes missional” often they make a fundamental misstep that I believe fractures the longevity of missional momentum. Innocently many churches begin to preach, teach and stir up their congregants to live missionally but often it is fueled by individualism. High emphasis is placed on “me” to use “my” capacities to be missional. Churches hand out 21 helpful hints for “how to be missional” to their attendees. I love helpful hints but in many ways this mode places emphasis on an insidious drive embedded in Western culture: individual productivity. Being missional can easily become a new collection of readily accessible methods in being productive. I’m convinced a missional life cannot be sustained individually.
The ground floor of missional mobility is in the cultivation of community. After Christendom is in ashes, our primary witness will be the spaces we create for humans to become more fully human. Sustaining community is multiplied in difficulty compared to creating missional energy and I think that’s why it has become the church’s Achilles Heel. I detect that what currently is titled community are often task teams, affinity groups and sanitary programs with a cause. There is a level of gathering that happens in these groups but they often do not operate like covenant households. Mission finds its endurance in the ongoing formation of the expanse of community. Community is the “pod” that carries mission into the future.
Community is the garden space where dirt gets underneath our fingernails, as we learn how to love well. It is the great exposure of those inner inclinations towards “selfish ambition and vain conceit”. In our commitment to a together-life we exercise muscles that we want to avoid using, that make us more nimble for the long haul of missional living. Community is more than “belonging” it is about “becoming” and meeting the best and worst in ourselves. It is a profound instrument that acts like a scalpel and warm cup of tea at the same time. Neutralization takes places in our missional endeavors when community is an addendum or afterthought. For the sake of God’s mission in the world, we need to engage in the physical and the particular rather than being abstract when it comes to the agronomy of community,
Here are two basic but uncomfortable rhythms that we disciple in those coming out of the fog of individualism and into the light of community. The intention is always to move past the rhetoric of community and into real reorientation.