Missional leadership

26 01 2009

missionalleader

Alan Roxburgh is leading a series of webinars that coordinate with his book The Missional Leader.  The book is an excellent resource providing some very practical guidance for leaders in post-Christendom.  Christianity Today reviewed the book shortly after it was published in 2006.  The following comments are from that review: 

“The book first describes this new term ‘missional.’ Leaders no longer view themselves as heads of a hierarchy, and church members no longer look only to the “professional” Christians to get the job done of reaching and caring for their communities. Missional leaders are more interested in cultivating community than controlling outcomes through programs and buildings. Such congregations are beginning to breathe in the same air and dream incredible dreams because they are learning to allow God’s Word and his Spirit to lead them rather than agendas, budgets, and traditions. People who would never have dreamed of taking leadership roles are discovering purpose in the community of believers.

“Essentially, in this model, the leader is a facilitator skilled at bringing out the deeper issues among the community. Rather than providing solutions, he asks good questions and embraces, rather than resolves, tension. The missional leader seeks to cultivate the congregation’s imaginative power rather than attempting to shape it into a pre-determined form.

“…For all its idealism, The Missional Leader paints a realistic picture at least of what life could look like among churches willing to enter the chaos and make lasting change little by little.”

Early last year Chad Hall illustrated how The Missional Leader was “playing out” in several churches in a Leadership Journal article (pdf available here).  

webinars_350x225The webinars Alan Roxburgh is hosting are available here.  The next one is scheduled for February 16.  The first webinar was recorded and recently made available to the participants – I’ve posted it below (the Powerpoint can be accessed and printed from here):





Missional Tribe

20 01 2009

A new website named Missional Tribe launched a few weeks ago to help connect people serving in advancing the kingdom of God. The purpose of the site is further described on the about page – here are some of the descriptive contributions:

mt-logo… offers a collaborative space to connect people and generate an accepting, supportive community that intentionally seeks for diversity.

… fosters dialogue in a respectful environment and gathers grassroots stories for mutual encouragement, teaching, and support.

… focuses on serving practitioners through resources, ideas, and stories from the front lines of incarnational engagement and radical transformation.

… shares the nitty-gritty of living our faith and sharing our life in order to break anyone’s sense of isolation on this journey, especially when a virtual support network may be the only community currently available.

… creates an “evergreen” space to capture and continue the collective wisdom of those seeking to pursue Christlikeness, stewarding it in ways that will keep it accessible beyond the first generation of participants.

… encourages using the website as a social space for befriending people of similar (or opposite!) interests, as a discussion space for interactive learning, and as an archive space for links and materials that might otherwise be forgotten.

… engages in discussion of any topic about the missional journey, with a minimum of gate keeping and oversight to maintain it as a safe place for all so that nothing would be off limits except for bullying or belittling others.

… celebrates both individual and communal expressions of a missional paradigm, and constantly seeks to broaden its demographic reach because of its commitment to embrace and learn from the diversity in Christ’s Kingdom.





Education for a new society

14 01 2009

“The church that educates for a new society will live out in its structures what it proclaims.  The very structures themselves educate.  When our acts mirror our words, they give to our words a transforming power.”

-Elizabeth O’Connor





The end of Christendom – a good thing

12 01 2009

barnagroup

 

 

 

George Barna posted today the results of his latest research regarding the state of Christianity in America.  He titled his findings “Christianity Is No Longer Americans’ Default Faith” – summarizing his findings that “half of all adults now contend that Christianity is just one of many options that Americans choose from and that a huge majority of adults pick and choose what they believe rather than adopt a church or denomination’s slate of beliefs.”  Here are some of the insights Barna draws from the research:

  • “The Christian faith is less of a life perspective that challenges the supremacy of individualism as it is a faith being defined through individualism.
  • … Americans are embracing an unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs… Millions also contend that they will experience eternal salvation because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior, but also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation.
  • In the past, when most people determined their theological and moral points of view, the alternatives from which they chose were exclusively of Christian options… Today, Americans are more likely to pit a variety of non-Christian options against various Christian-based views. This has resulted in an abundance of unique worldviews based on personal combinations of theology drawn from a smattering of world religions…
  • Faith, of whatever variety, is increasingly viral rather than pedagogical. With people spending less time reading the Bible, and becoming less engaged in activities that deepen their biblical literacy, faith views are more often adopted on the basis of dialogue, self-reflection, and observation than teaching.”

Barna’s survey results are no surprise but serve to underline our present reality that we need to be living in this culture as missionaries – not pharisees. 

theendofchristendom

Christendom has been waining in the west for several decades but the church has been slow to see it – and even slower to process the implications.  One exception to that is Malcolm Muggeridge who gave a series of popular lectures on the subject at the University of Waterloo (Ontario) in 1978 (published in 1980 in a book titled The End of Christendom).   Muggeridge’s perspective was that Christendom is not compatible with Christianity and, as such, the end of Christendom will allow for the church to triumph.  He saw the twentieth century as a parallel to what St. Augustine encountered when faced with the collapse of Rome: the inevitable transience of historical civilizations in contrast to which the eternity that comes to light through Christianity shines out all the more clearly, as he envisions anew Augustine’s distinction between the ephemeral City of Man and the everlasting City of God.





Are we having a rummage sale?

2 01 2009

greatemergenceI’m so over the word “change” – I mean give it a rest – the Obama campaign has flat worn the word out.  Before tucking the word away, however, let me offer a couple observations: 1) Systemic cultural change was well in progress before Obama’s campaign – he simply picked a good wave to surf on; and 2) The level of change the Obama campaign talked about pales in comparison to what is actually going on in American cuture and the church (specifically the church in North America).

No one describes the current transformation of the church more comprehensively than Phyllis Tickle.  Her new book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, provides a view from 50,000 feet of what we are experiencing in this time of liminality.  Her assessment is bold but based upon an historical analysis and whether her conclusions are correct will only be known years from now.  But if she is right we are priviledged to be living (participating?) in a very transformative period for the church.

So what is the book about – what is the “rummage sale” thing?   Check out this short video introduction:





Apologetics in post-modernity

1 01 2009

One of the statements made by Andy Stanley at the Catalyst Conference this fall keeps ringing in my head: “If you are over 45 years old, you aren’t going to have any good ideas. It’s your job to recognize the good ideas.” I take a statement like this as a challenge not another nail in the coffin for those of us in this age group. The challenge is to not submit to the comfort of just “doing church” but to press forward – learn new things and engage in new ways.

Well, Andy Stanley’s statement rang again today when I read a series of questions that John H. Armstrong used in a graudate class in apologetics he taught last month at Wheaton College. I think these are the type of questions that can really help us move toward engagement – they provide a good map about what we need to be learning and applying. John Armstrong credits these questions to Newbigin’s book Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship:

1. What are the questions that the postmodern person asks that were not asked 25 years ago?

2. What specific influence does Hinduism have upon the “new-age” movement in the West?

3. How can we speak about apologetics in a way that makes it accessible to ordinary people?

4. How do we approach the issue of evil with unbelievers?

5. Does conservative and fundamentalist Christianity actually pose a major problem for serious apologetics in today’s world and if so how do we deal with this problem?

6. Do Marxism and radical Islam have anything in common and if so how do we address these problems?

7. How do we respond to the “So What?” responses of many postmodern hearers?

8. Does our commitment to seeking justice and mercy in society act as a form of apologetics and if so how can we do this better?

9. How do we change every sphere of society?

10. In what ways is the Christian faith “public truth” as Newbigin cogently argues?

11. Is the community of Christ our greatest apologetic and if so what does unity and John 17 have to do with this in actual practice?