How Will “Missional” Survive the Future?

00 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?  Missional Individualism  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 […]

Mutual Missional Leadership (5 Principles)

00 My story is that before being part of a team that planted a church in the city, I had been blessed to be a pastor for over a decade working in fairly organized churches. In the last few years I’ve had to go through a serious overhaul in my apprehension of ministry leadership. I am now  part of a “Leading Community” that is forging a network of missional-communities in a very Post-Christian city.     The Anabaptist Influence  Over the last decade I devoured every book and conference I could touch that taught me how to be a better personal leader. But somewhere in that leadership hunt I stumbled upon an odd little book called “Body Politics” by John Howard Yoder. I first thought it was about American politics but discovered this short-but-sweet book was on Anabaptist ecclesiology. It’s contents lodged in my mind and spun an inner conversation. I started to read both Anabaptist works and the New Testament narrative, alongside my 21st century leadership library. A growing conflict and discontent was brewing in my leadership framework. Re-imagining New Scaffolding Since planting this awkward missional expression, I’ve had to re-imagine and reconstruct our leadership scaffolding. I had baptized my previous leadership commitments in isolated […]

Go Small, Go Missional

00 Recently I was at a missional conference and I found myself twitching at what surrounded me.  Sure the theme on the conference flyer said “missional” but the enterprise of “Bigness” was shouting at me from every direction; big buildings, big personalities, big movements, big stories of catalytic missional churches, big book tables with big stacks of missional how-to books.  The team I was with thought it was all a little curious.  I find myself increasingly becoming uncomfortable with the narrative being painted.  I’m not anti “mega” but I do think our unchecked passions for “big” are sometimes tangled up more with our cultural measurements than with how God authentically operates.  Going “Big” tickles us all but it has become a diversion from the diagnostics of real-time oikos as the sampling of the Kingdom here on earth. There is No Secret SauceAre we looking for some leadership secret to catapult our ministries to the next level? In coaching church planters and seasoned pastors I hear this sentiment between the lines with those considering the missional movement.  As a planter forging communities on mission I’ve had to come to accept that there is no secret sauce.  Sure there are some important […]

Missional Communities Peel Back Pastoral Pride

00 I sometimes get the privilege of coaching young leaders who are attempting a church plant through a more communal and missional approach. I’m certainly no expert by any stretch, just a little further down the road. I have been able to acquire some bumps and bruises. In the immersion of pioneering church this way I’ve gathered a few wisdom-nuggets to throw in the bucket. When coaching I often feel a need to prep them for the transition this approach will require. Personally I’ve been “taken to school” in numerous ways trying to develop a network of mid-sized communities in the city. I don’t want to be a party-pooper but just a little cold water needs to be drizzled over the big visions. No amount of reading and conference attending can emotionally prep you for this new domain. I’ve been a paid pastor in traditionally structured churches for 10+ years before planting  and the biggest water-shed lessons have been on the expectations I imported from previous ministry experiences. Planting our church has peeled back a lot of pastor pride. Here’s a confessional of how leading in a missional community paradigm has been personally humbling and might humble you. 1. You […]

How to Listen to Your Neighborhood

00Our Leading Community at Axiom has been talking about the issue raised in this video. We are together learning that we cannot duplicate/transplant a program we think will meet a spiritual need or attract people with specific longings. There is a natural tendency to do just that for a few reasons: maybe we’ve seen a program work at another church, maybe we just want to get active now, maybe we read a book and want to implement it, maybe we just want immediate traction and visibility or maybe we want something to measure our churches health by. Instead we need to genuinely and humbly enter into a patient posture in our city to listen and put our ear to the ground; “What is God doing, where is the hurt, where are the cracks and crevices that despair is hiding out in?”  We need to press into relational spaces in our city and connect and search for were God wants a fresh expression of His Kingdom. 00

The Psychological Junk-Food: Cynicism

00 When we’re young we all lean towards idealism, believing that not only the good but the best is inevitable, seeing the world simplistically: black and white, good and bad.  Then eventually we come face-to-face with the bucket of cold water known as reality.  When we’re disappointed by people and circumstances the bud of cynicism begins to sprout.  Cynicism is really a reaction to disappointment.  Either our idealism or our idea about how a situation should work out is met with resistance.  When we’re let down and angered we’re faced with how to respond.  It’s at this tipping point that our justifiable frustration can turn into a poison that enters our own blood stream.  A cynic is a dejected idealist. We begin to think that cynicism keeps us alert to the potential dangers that lurk from the individuals and organizations that try to manipulate us into believing what they say.  The cynical voice in our heads convinces us we are more “streetwise.” So we surrender to the cynic inside us. I’ve heard it said that, “The problem with being a cynic these days is that it’s difficult to keep up.”  There is certainly no shortage of targets for the cynic.  […]

The UnSexy Early Church

00There seems to be a wide spread feeling of romanticism in many of the minds of modern Christians that the early church was; firing on all cylinders, sharing everything in common, passing the love around to each other and totally committed to God.  I recently heard a well known author say during his sermon “we need to get back to the church in Acts.”   I also just came across a promotion for an Acts 2 themed church training conference.  I think well-meaning Christians have a cleanly-framed early church utopia floating around in their heads as the picture of what community looked like in the early church. I’m sorry to crumble your picture of the early church but it has to come down.  In the first few chapters in Acts we read about an unbelievable event; the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the lives of those who believe Jesus is the Messiah. You can read those chapters and recount the crazy supernatural manifestations occurring on a large scale. But those early chapters do not give us a correct view of the early church. They do help us understand the opening event of the church that will never be duplicated […]

The Squeeze of Community

00I recently had a pastor ask what my plan for discipleship was at our church. It’s always hard to answer that question because the expected paradigm is often a program that takes people spiritually from point A to point B within a framed amount of time.  I‘m convinced there is a bit of smoke and mirrors when it comes to what discipleship programs like Alpha course, Theology classes, Sunday School, Men’s Fraternity, Cross Current, Starting Point, Prayer Groups etc actually accomplish in the way of transformation. Sure the previous options present people with potentially the right information in a conducive, arranged environment.  People may even have an ah-ha moment in a programed setting but often character change is still elusive. With programs, participants have a strong sense of completion or accomplishment but what really needs to be measured goes unaddressed. I understand the supposed need for programs to funnel people through essentials in an organized and efficient fashion. Still, after 10+ years in organized churches I’m just not convinced it creates a conducive space for authentic transformation. When it comes to discipleship the bottom line should be transformation of our character. But character ducks and dodges coming into the light. […]

The Inorganic Church

00I have to be honest, I’m totally late and groggy when it comes to organic food. My wife’s is adamantly organic in our food choices and for the most part I haven’t really cared. Often times when it comes to food for me, ignorance is bliss. The other night we cuddled up and watched a short documentary on PBS called the “Botany of Desire.” The show highlighted the practices of genetically engineered potatoes that are created to meet the demands of french fry suppliers in America. It attempted to explain the unintended consequences of speeding up the process of growing potatoes. After thinking about the documentary a bit I realized I’m adamantly organic but in a very different arena. When it comes to the building and growing of a church community I get a bit bothered by the “genetic engineering” taking place on a large scale. 1.To launch a church “Big” many try to engineer numerical growth by appealing to immediate gratification. This is done using overstatements about what God’s doing. I just received marketing material for a church plant that hasn’t even launched yet and their marketing already says a “significant movement of God” is happening. I find this […]