Missional Discipleship Cannot Be Microwaved

00 Discipleship is at the heart of the missional movement or at least it should be.  Jesus provoked followers to become gardeners that would till-and-toil for the flourishing of his in-breaking Kingdom.  Jesus was a rabbi.  Like other rabbis before him, he invited others to journey along side him. The rabbinic teaching style did not primarily consist of attending lectures, reading texts or going through a preset study.  The primary learning approach was through Midrash which was a way of processing with story, conversation, questions and reflection.  Today we are challenged with excavating an apprentice-heart in Jesus-followers for the sake of God’s mission in the world.  But I wonder if we have time and patience for Midrash anymore? Microwave Discipleship In many ways in the evangelical imagination, discipleship has become so intertwined with our consumerist tendencies that we are blind to how fused they’ve become.  Discipleship, beginning with the twelve and moving into the early church, did not have embedded expectations of programs for felt needs, affinity groups and fill-in the blank accessibility.  It’s become so innate that discipleship be quarantined to one night a week or to a 12 week notebook or to a one-year intensive.  Certainly, the previous […]

Book Review: Creating A Missional Culture by JR Woodward

00As a missional practioner, I am always looking for resources that come from others who have been digging deep in the garden of Missional Communities. Lately as I’ve traveled around a bit, I’ve bumped into a lot of “missional talk”; it can become a bit tiring. However, connecting with JR and his book “Creating A Missional Culture” I find missionality saturated in persevering practice. Walking through the book over the last month I’ve felt like I’ve had a conversation with someone who has taken difficult risks to pioneer for the sake of God’s in-breaking Kingdom. The Power of Culture My favorite section of the book is on the power of culture. JR is a diagnostician when engaging with the nature of how cultures form and form us. JR helps us see what we have potentially become too accustomed to. He helps us have eyes to see when he says “The dominant culture seeks to squeeze the church into its mold of market-style exchanges, manufacture desire, self sufficiency and addiction.”  I many ways the Evangelical church has built and planted churches leveraging these drives and cultural standards. JR is diagnosing the culture and like an archaeologist begins to uncover how the “host […]

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 […]

Becoming a Community Diagnostician

00A formative book for me has been “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It painted a breathtaking vision of community that has been lodged in my mind for the last decade.   As a church planter though, I quickly realized how un-sexy the process of shaping and sustaining Missional-Community is in contrast to the surreal vision swirling around in my head. Here’s a promise: the romanticism around this burgeoning approach to church planting will soon fade under the real hands-on work of cultivating routine community. I’ve journeyed through a “crashing-to-earth-process” after detoxing from years of devouring leadership books combined with reading stories of modern monastic communities, realizing people are not pieces to be used for my preferred utopian dreams.  Our pictures of perfection need to be grounded and humbled.  Idealism can be the un-verbalized fuel for disappointment surrounding the concept of community.  The Fragility of Community It’s tempting to talk about community in abstract terms but when practiced those abstract ideals have very little traction.  The disarming reality around fostering community is the ever present vulnerability and fragility of it.  My observance is that maintaining vibrant community is even harder than active missionality.  Christine D. Pohl said in a recent lecture “this truth […]

Missional-Marinating

00I am not a good sleeper.  Almost fifteen years ago I had a 10 month bout with insomnia. I went through all kinds of testing to figure out the problem.  At the end of the day it came down to one issue, my inability to deal with stress. I was only 22 at the time and my life really was not all that complicated. I had average stressors for a youngster.  I just felt every pressure and responsibility like it was a cinder block laid on my neck.  I wanted to convince myself I was a contemplative person but I really had a deeper rooted issue. I was afraid of failure. I was afraid of not impressing the people around me. I was afraid of missing out on opportunities.  I was afraid I was not measuring up to some invisible standard that haunted me. I could not rest.   It was in that dark season that I came face to face with how self-conscience and impatient I was. I wanted to make a big impact and I wanted it to happen immediately. With all this external passion, internally I was riddled with insecurity, caught in an identity scramble and looking […]

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 […]