Monday morning after logging my menu selection and discussing Bosnia with my waitress, I began to dig into Reggie McNeal’s Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church. I’ve not had much time with it this week, so I’ve only ingested the introduction and chapter one… but I found myself jotting down an inordinate number of notes and quotes for so brief a sample, and yesterday when I tweeted “Those who miss the missional renaissance will find themselves rendered irrelevant to the movement of God in the world. — Reggie McNeal” it proved to be good retweet material. (Paraphrased from p.17 for the sake of a 140-character limit.)
“The rise of the missional church is the single biggest development in Christianity since the Reformation.”
— Reggie McNeal, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, page xiii
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:
The Kiwi & family are going walkabout, sorta, in a big old truck named Maggie that they intend to drive pretty much around the globe. Europe first. As they go, they’ll be doing what they do along the way. (Hit the foregoing link or read how Jonny Baker tells it to get the full skinny.) In order to facilitate getting video updates from the Jones clan, the Tribe wants to get people to chip in (see the widget?) to get them some video gear for the trip. More info on the Tribe site. And do toss in a few bucks if you can, just to help keep Andrew’s blog interesting while he’s on the road. Otherwise you’ll be stuck reading me and Bill. See? It’s a good cause.
In my previous post, I reflected briefly on a recent post by David Fitch about the Sunday morning gathering in the local church. He suggests that contrary to the position taken by some missional thinkers now, the Sunday gathering is not non-missional — or at least, it doesn’t have to be despite “the problem of the attractional inertia surrounding the Sunday morning worship gathering.”
A lot of this has to do with how we view the gathering in the first place. In introducing the subject, Fitch writes,
A recent visitor to our church’s Sunday morning gathering told me “we really enjoyed the service.” At which point I felt the urge to puke. I understand this is most often the nicest and best of things people can say to a pastor after a church worship gathering. Yet it belies the problem of Sunday morning worship in our day. Sunday morning worship is a spectacle,it too often distances us from God as a spectator event.
Dave Fitch posted Against Decaffeinated Belief: The Sunday Gathering as Missional almost two weeks ago now, and I’m finally sitting down to chew on it. I really have to sit down with Dr. Fitch one of these days over a pint of beer for some thought-stimulating conversation. I like what he’s on about in this post.
One of my D.Min students (at Northern) writes about the problem of decaffeinated belief in his thesis proposal. He says that many of his denomination’s pastors
…agree that a growing number of worshipers are talking or sitting through the congregational singing writing notes during the special music, showing up 10-15 minutes late, not worried about interrupting anything or anyone. One pastor shared that a congregant stopped attending worship opting to stay home and worship with a church on television. When asked about this, the congregant responded, “Why does it matter where I watch the service?”
This week I’ve been having a markedly increased number of email conversations concerning the new Missional Tribe. Len Hjalmarson called it FACEBOOK for missional and wondered if we would burn out with the volume of interaction, or make a lot of money and sell the thing to a large Corporation. I’m thinking burnout is more likely, but I’m always open to offers… (just kidding!) I think my favorite comment was via email from a co-instigator of The Tribe: “Have you guys considered that we may be responsible for essentially killing the conversation in the emerging/missional blogsophere this week? My blog is like a cemetery…” Well, I’ve noticed that I haven’t had much of anything to say this week that didn’t involve Missional Tribe. Sorry ’bout that, but it’s been a pretty big event. Things should get back to normal around here very soon — and we didn’t mean to crash the blogosphere, really! That should get back into its rhythm soon too, though we hope there will be a lot more conversation aggregated and collected on the new Tribe site. We’re still hoping for a lot of good missional stories, and will be highlighting some of those soon: there’s a lot good stuff popping up already, like a kind of pent-up explosion.
Yes, it’s true… for the past couple of hours now, you’ve been able to get more than just the seven-second preview. While the site is still officially in beta, we’ve thrown open the doors to run it in a “public beta” — which differs very little from being fully launched. There are a few site features that have yet to appear, but the major pieces are in place now. This is a different kind of network, but it’s a form that will be recognizable to anyone who has read The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. Anyone wanting more information about the network should feel free to email me directly or leave a comment below — I will be more than happy to talk about why I am involved with this effort.