There’s been something of a general malaise going around lately… people tired with blogging, tired with the emerging church, tired with missional, or tired with “the conversation.” People accuse these conversations of being the “same old, same old” or a number of other things, including being exclusive or exclusionary or being made up of people who only talk and don’t ever do the things they talk about. Perhaps you can call to mind a recent post or two or five that runs along these lines — I know I can. I’m not linking them because I’m not specifically responding to them… I’ve had similar conversations and emails and read comments along these lines as well. And of the posts we can both call to mind, there are some folk who I highly respect and who (ironically?) are an important part of the conversation… even if they tire of it at times. And some of what they say in these posts is correct. On the other hand, one reply in a group email thread this past week discussing this phenomenon said simply:
I’m tired of people being tired of stuff.
And with this, I resonate.
Yes, I’m tired of stuff too, and I don’t want to see the “conversation” stay theoretical with no practical outworkings. This is the reason why a group of us started the Missional Tribe, to be a kind of “whosoever-will may come” kind of place centered around all things missional, primarily for the collection of real-life stories about people’s experience in trying to live missionally. Yes, we labeled it “missional,” despite the varying definitions people continue to apply to the word, and a widespread distaste for labels in general. Of course, I don’t like labels either, but in life, some labels must be functionally accepted just to keep things understandable. If you don’t believe me, answer me this: when you need to use a public restroom and are faced with the option of two doors, each with differing labels…. okay, a bit trite perhaps. But you see my point, which also illustrates the fact that certain labels just don’t function well if they’re too fluid.
At the same time, I’ve seen the damage caused when the show is all run by practitioners who have little regard for theoreticians. Things get up to a frantic pace, at which point the things they hadn’t thought through ahead of time begin to crop up — and due to the frantic pace, when these things start to explode, the damage can be pretty extensive. Theoreticians need practitioners in order to make sure things actually get rolling, but the practitioners need the theoreticians to keep it on the rails. It’s a simple point illustrated by the fact that we all have different giftings, and in this case both of these types need one another. It’s as though the hand cannot say to the eye, “I have no need of thee,” and underscores the need for diversity in order to ensure that a range of giftings is needfully allowed to be expressed, “for if the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?” Yeah, call me radical, but sometimes I feel the need to stand up for us theoreticians… though I fully recognize the need to not stop there, and even to not figure it all out before you get moving down the road.
But what of this general malaise? We’ve all gotten ourselves into a blogging funk at one time or another, and have thought, said, or written things that reflect our feeling at a point in time rather than our view of things overall. I’ve checked my calendar, and have discovered something. It’s early March. Don’t know about the rest of you, but when the days are shorter and the February-March doldrums set in and it’s still too cold out to spend a lot of time outside so you’re cooped up in the house where you’ve been since November and you just wish the snow would melt already and let you get out in the sunshine and warm your toes in the sand and you look longingly out the window only to realize that it’s snowing again and there’s a fairly brisk wind… I find that a little disheartening. And it can make me tire of things I ordinarily love. I’ve been short on blog-fodder — or more accurately, steam to power the conversion of fodder to posts — for a while now, but I generally consider it somewhat cyclical. My experience is that these seasons are the ones when it’s a particularly bad idea to make rash decisions or say rash things fueled by malaise. And to remember the thing that best counters it: hope.
I know full well that spring will come, that theory will become practice, that I’ll get back my blogging mojo, that others will become energized, that we’ll all enjoy the conversation in the blogosphere more than we do today, that living missionally will make a difference, and that good things will happen for the sake of the Kingdom. These things give me hope.
And a little more sunshine won’t hurt, either — so I changed my clock this weekend, and suddenly it’s gotten brighter out.