Saturday, October 09, 2010

Introducing the missional church - pt. 1

I will try to post my highlights (the things I underlined) from Alan Roxburgh & Scott Boren's book Introducing the Missional Church in three parts. My review of the book as a whole is HERE. These are the things that stuck out to me in part 1 (chapters 1-3):
  • p. 15 - (the very beginning of chapter 1) "There once was a people who were neither significant nor exceptional nor privileged. In fact they did what most people of the time did: worked, married, raised children, celebrated, mourned, and carried out the basic stuff of life. You would not think them unique, because their dress, homes, and professions were much like that of everyone else. What was different about them, however, was their strange conviction that they had been chosen by God to be a special people, a journeying people who were forced to discover again and again what God wanted them to be doing in the world... At every stage in the biblical narratives is hope for a future reality toward which the people are moving. Being missional means we join this heritage, entering a journey without any road maps to discover what God is up to in our neighborhoods and communities." (what an awesome way to start the book - so stinking fundamental that we can't seem to grasp it).
  • p. 18 - (regarding 'attractional' vs. 'missional') "It's not that we shouldn't be attractive for those looking for a church to attend; it's that this has become the primary focus of churches, and as a result they miss what the Spirit is up to in the world."
  • p. 20 - "A missional imagination is not about the church; it's not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying church around. It's not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized. All of these are good things, but they aren't the focus of a missional imagination."
  • p. 20 - "It is not the church of God that has a mission. It's the God of mission that has a church" (Rowan Williams). "He is saying God is at work in the world to redeem creation, and God invites us to participate in this mission. God is not interested in getting more and more people into the institution of the church. Instead the church is to be God's hands and feet in accomplishing God's mission... Rather than the primary question being, 'How do we attract people to what we are doing?' it becomes 'What is God up to in this neighborhood?' and 'What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?' This is what a missional imagination is about."
  • p. 21 - "As an alternative to the attractional, some take up a contrarian stance. They become anti-building, anti-clergy, anti-denomination, anti-megachurch, anti-tradition, and anti-structure. They point fingers at what is now in place and tear it down. Many are stuck on the negative, and they know how to write blogs that deconstruct and talk about what is wrong. Who doesn't know how to do that? There's nothing creative about it, even if the media is used well. Others move past the negative by elevating an ideal or dream of what the church should be. This is understandable, but it is not helpful. As counterintuitive as it may sound, we don't cultivate a missional imagination by setting up some ideal type of the church or telling people what we should be. There are different forms of these dreams. They often coem in some form of getting back to New Testament patterns or describing some point in the church's history that we need to recover. Some use quite strange, almost nonsensical language about how the church must become deinstitutionalized (we actually haven't come across any human system that isn't institutionalized in one form or another) and that it needs to return to a preinstitutionalized state of organic life. None of this is helpful, because it fails to recognize where the Spirit is actually at work in shaping a new imagination."
  • p. 23 - "All human groups meet in small and large groups. It has nothing to do with a biblical pattern and everything to do with how humans meet together."
  • p. 24 - "We want to challenge three perspectives here. First, we are challenging the elevation of any model as the way to do church... Second, we challenge arguments that the Bible reveals a missional secret or formula that provides twenty-first century Christians with a magic pill for entering missional life... Third, we are challenging the idea that there is some point in the history of the church that provides us with just the right pattern and formula for creating missional churches..."
  • p. 24 - "No matter what era one chooses, there will always be much to learn and wisdom to be gained from listening to the stories of the churches in those times, but we cannot turn to them to find formulas and templates for our time."
  • p. 25 - "Those on the missional journey are wanderers, and we want to develop skills of reading the winds of the Spirit, testing the waters of the culture, and running with the currents of God's call so that we are not lost on the journey. To some it might look like we are lost when we cannot point to a model that can be easily applied anywhere. Instead we are participants on a journey in which we have to learn from one another as we move toward becoming God's missional people."
  • p. 30 - "The word missional was introduced in 1998 because the definitions of mission and church presented above are misleading and wrong. Adding the el to the end of mission, however, creates a new meaning we don't immediately see or understand. The word invites us to stop, check our assumptions, and ask if there might be a different way of being the church."
  • p. 31 - "The team who wrote Missional Church introduced the word missional as an invitation for people to consider a new way of being the church. It was intended to create a space in which we could get a new imagination for what God wants to do in and through the church."
  • p. 37 - "In the biblical imagination, dictionary definitions as we know them are not the norm. There is a different way of reading the world here. Like the three children in C.S. Lewis's story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, understaniding the imagination at work in the Bible is something like going through a wardrobe into another world that many can't see and don't believe exists. Entering the missional conversation is more like going through the wardrobe than like getting the right definition. This is because there is this big difference between how we see our world in the modern period and the way Jesus saw the world when he told stories about the kingdom of God..."
  • p. 39 - "Scripture does not so much define reality as invite us onto a journey in which we discover the world God is creating."
  • p. 42 - "They mysterious choosing of the people of Israel forms the imaginative backdrop to the New Testament concept of election. The mystery of the election of the church is not, as in Augustine's framing, about who has been selected by God to escape judgment and get in the lifeboat to heaven called church. It is not about which individuals were chosen and which were left out. Like the choosing of Israel in Abram, this choosing is not really about those inside the church but about being chosen by God to represent him for the sake of the world." ***
  • p. 43 - "The biblical narratives present a radically different undersanding of memory. The memory of God's choosing and acting is never confined to the past; it lives in the present and shapes the future. It is the reliving and reenacting of past events in the present because these events continue to have power and are the primary shapers of life."
  • p. 44. - "The church exists as a church so long as it lives in the story about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Outside of this memory the church cannot exist as God intends."
  • p. 49 - "This missional journey calls us out onto a new kind of river that none of us know how to navigate, because it challenges the core of our church imaginations."
  • p. 53 - "...simply calling something missional is not the point."
  • p. 54 - "At its core is the reality that God's people are a sign to the world of who God is... All the church does and is should live out God's life in the midst of the world; missional people should practice God's life before a watching world. This includes worship, preaching, communion, loving one another, social justice, caring for the poor, and sharing Jesus's gospel. Being missional is about all of it, not part. This is the missional imagination. All of God's people are on mission to engage their surrounding neighborhoods, not just a few who are sent outside the church to do something called missions."
  • p. 55 - "It is not about making the church structures and programs and all the machinations work better. It is about the sending of God's peculiar people into the midst of the world to engage people in their neighborhoods and demonstrate together God's life."
  • p. 59-60 - "In Scripture, mission calls a people into a radically different vision on a journey bigger and other than ourselves. Scripture calls us into the memory of an amazing story of celebrative life - not for ourselves but for the sake of the world. The strangeness of this story is its illogical nature and irrepressible meaning: find life by losing it; only by leaving the places of security are the purposes of God discovered. The God revealed in Scirpture gives himself away for the sake of the world."
  • p. 61 - "The biblical narrative tells us that only by living inside and being shaped by a definitive story, by never forgetting that story, and by reliving it as memory in ritual and repetition is it possible to be formed into a people who live by an alternative story. This is why the weekly Eucharist practiced with other Christians is so important. Memory forms a people."
  • p. 62 - "Missional fits all kinds of churches in all kinds of places and traditions, but it only fits when we enter into the biblical view of mystery, memory, and mission and discern the contours of the missional imagination... In order to travel the missional river, we all have dams we must tear down first. And we have both discovered that we have to revisit old dams that we thought were gone and relearn what God's view of mystery, memory, and mission really is. This is not something we simply overcome and then move on. We are learning to see the world differently. We are learning to see God and the church differently. The Spirit of God is moving in our midst to reshape us and clear the river for the missional church in our day."
Good, good stuff (I think). Peace out; and in.

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