Posts Tagged ‘Missional’
I wish I had more time to devote to my reading and my writing. At the moment my employment is consuming around 55% of my life… or more, if I count indirect consumption too. When I factor in sleep (a necessity I am told), I am left with less than 15% of my daily existence to call “my own.” This sounds like a selfish approach to my life, and without context or qualification it probably is, but that’s not what my thought is about. The bottom line is this; my flesh is in rebellion. I don’t like having less than 15% (translates to around 3.5 hours) of my time and day to do the things that are necessary to the maintenance of my family, running a household, planting/building a new church, devotional study, or any other element that “I” decide has value over sleep and employment. I know, I know… welcome to reality; right? I get it… seriously, I get it. My confession is not a complaint. My confession is a outward and public reminder for me to remember and be held accountable to the truth I know to be real.
I recognize God is “in” all I do, provided that I focus on responding to His movement and Presence in my life, but knowing that and even living obediently to that knowledge doesn’t make it any less difficult. I think, perhaps, this is an extended application of what it means to live missionally. Practically speaking, followers of Jesus are supposed to be vessels of the Most High God, taking the Good News to places that are not inhabited by the Gospel. I am positive that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the authority of (or in) my workplace… Maybe, just maybe, my “mustard seed” of living the gospel while I am in the “chains” of my employer will bear the fruit of freedom for someone, if even indirectly. Perhaps my living faith may be a ray of hope that turns to the light of new life for someone or someones… The harsh truth to me is this:
If I am unable to live the Gospel in the gritty moments of life, what difference does it really make in the quiet comforts of life?
I will thank God the Spirit who dwells within me for calling me to account this day and I will respond with action to press on in joyful obedience for the sake of others who need His Truth. To God be the glory this day and forever. Amen.
A little NUDGE…
A little over a year ago I posted a multi-part review of Leonard Sweet’s book “So Beautiful.” This week I started his latest work, “NUDGE.” I will be providing a full (probably another multi-part) review of this book in the coming days/weeks. Anyway, the point of my mentioning So Beautiful in relationship with NUDGE is my first impression following the preface and opening comments of the first chapter. While I thought So Beautiful was the culmination of much of the thinking and study from Len Sweet, it appears at first glance that NUDGE is an extension of the MRI (missional, relational, incarnational) model in practice. I am excited with what I’m reading; very excited. I feel the welling up in my soul exclaiming; “yes, yes, YES!” Let me share a teaser quote from NUDGE and show you what I mean… Sweet writes:
I believe the lifeblood of evangelism is not propositions, but prepositions. For God to do something through us, God must be doing something in us. If we are not always evangelizing ourselves, we have no business evangelizing others. In fact, it is usually as God’s grace courses through us to someone else that we become aware of God’s love in and for us. Evangelism is an invitation for broken people together to meet the Christ who loves broken people. We all are damaged but loved, crushed but cherished, with a divine embrace. When love is the motivation for evangelism, nudging is love in action. And the cracks in our broken vases are where Jesus leaks out first. ~~Leonard Sweet; NUDGE p.28
I love this. I want to live in this constant and continual state of awareness of God’s Presence working in me and working through me…working in others and through others… to perfect and transform the brokenness of a creation He desperately desires to reconcile and restore. It is a divine mystery that is unfolding right in front of us and I don’t want to miss a nanosecond of it. Apparently, it takes a “nudge” every now and then to move us to action.
More to come…
Book Review: The Tangible Kingdom
Hmmm…what to say, what to say…
A book like this requires some degree of back-story, and it was provided, so it was a little long for me to get to the nitty gritty of what I was searching for in the story. It was around chapters nine and ten that I found myself getting “sucked in” to the heart of what Hugh Halter was driving at. I am incredibly excited about the community described in the tangible kingdom. It brings great joy to me to hear that people are living the life that Jesus taught…and not some cheaply interpreted facsimile of it.
Chapters ten through around fourteen were mostly about deconstruction from the “way we have always done things.” I appreciated that Halter was not overly critical toward the methods he was deconstructing; in fact, he seemed very sensitive to the people entrenched in those systems.
Chapters fifteen through eighteen were rebuilding chapters; teaching the foundational elements of this “incarnational community.” Everything that was shared in these chapters just seemed to make such beautiful sense… I found myself saying over and over; “yes, yes, yes, yes…!!!”
The final chapters, nineteen through twenty-one, were about the focus and outcome of the three primary components of the community once people decide to “join” the community. This focus hinges on togetherness, oneness, and otherness…and I’ll stop there. The teaching and the illustrations used by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay are very clear and easy to understand. It would be my great desire to see this community with my own eyes. I would love to get some one-on-one leadership development from an existing-healthy-functioning community.
In my opinion, this is another 5-star book and another must read for those people and leaders desiring to live missionally and incarnationally (buzzwordsy I know, but I don’t know how else to describe it). Personally, I don’t know that I’d follow everything from this book… I have some personal convictions that differ from the authors, but I understand the heart of his passion and with that I agree 100%. I recommend this book very highly. I’m glad to kickoff my 2010 reading year with this one; a great way to start it out.
So Beautiful – Relational Life
I started (and almost finished) part two of So Beautiful this morning. This part discusses the “R” of the MRI model that Sweet introduces in the beginning of the book. I know I haven’t mentioned this before, but in my excitement and zeal for this awesome book I sort of overlooked that piece. MRI stands for missional, relational, and incarnational. Yesterday, in part two, the discussion was on the missional aspect of our faith (missional God the Father, missional Jesus, missional Holy Spirit, missional Church, missional you, and missional me); great, great stuff in part one. Part two, as mentioned is about relational; that is the relational aspect of our faith (once again…relational God the Father, relational Jesus, relational Holy Spirit, relational Church, relational Creation, relational you, relational me, relational us…and relational…relational). Yeah. This story and explanation is so wonderfully assembled in So Beautiful. I am enjoying it so much that I can’t wait to start over and read it again. I don’t think I’ve said that about many books outside of the Bible. I am finding this study to be so affirming in what is already in my own heart, and in addition, I’m finding answers (connecting dots and filling in blanks) for things I didn’t have answers to. I’m being stimulated to study, encouraged to action, and clarified in my focus.
It is probably greatly attributed to my own learning style, but I love the enormous diversity of teaching, knowledge, and experiential thinking that Len Sweet draws upon to present his material. The story is so robust there doesn’t seem to be a dry or dull moment as he weaves the delightfully eloquent narrative of So Beautiful.
I leave my thoughts this morning with this comment on relational and a quote from Len Sweet and So Beautiful. It is God Himself that chose us to be conformed to His Son and His Image; “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29) And, it was Jesus who prayed the following:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one-as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:20-23)
And finally, from Len Sweet…
“Gospel holiness is to so be in a relationship with Chris that your life channels the name and nature of God: love. I know this word channeling has the smell of new-age sewage. But sometimes no other word will do when something or someone else has gotten greasy from too much fingering. What else do you call it but channeling when the Jesus who is of one substance with the Father wants to be of one substance with every human being? It is more than our vocation as ‘channels’ of God’s peace, as Saint Francis is alleged to have put it. It is that we are channeling the very presence and power of the Prince of Peace.”
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” Jesus (John 17:25-26)
I knocked down another 45 pages or so of this wonderful book this am. I have determined that I will need to continue reading and rereading this for the remainder of the year…and I’m serious when I say this. I also recognized that highlighting and underlining would be futile as it would just make my copy a jumble of lines, marks and technicolor (in other words – it would all be colored and marked). I’m saying this should be mandatory reading for anyone professing themselves as a follower of Christ. Here’s an excerpt from this morning:
“Honest disciples gulp rather than gargle at the fountain of knowledge. Life is filled with difficult questions. If disciples aren’t as wise as Solomon, they’re at least honest about not having all the answers. As Moses found out on the peaks of Mount Sinai. the closer he journeyed to God, the more he was enveloped in the mist and ‘unknowing.’ As Aaron discovered at the foot of Mount Sinai, the farther people journeyed from God, the more they became certain what God looks like and cast the golden calf.” (Len Sweet)
And this, Len Sweet quotes, from Eric Brown:
“To build a non-going church, you make sure that the bond with Jesus is weak, that every decision is tepid and triple-checked, and dissuade people from taking risks.”
And from Thomas Merton, he cites this quote:
“The mission of the church is to continue Christ’s ministry on earth.”
This sounds a lot like; “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you…” John 20:21
Man, Oh Man…
Just started this one this morning (for those who know me well, you’ll be saying “how many books you got going now, Borden?”). I have something like 6-7 books going all the time, not counting my devotional studies…but that’s the way my brain works. It takes me longer to get through a single book sometimes, but it works for me. Anyway, back to my point. I started So Beautiful this morning by Len Sweet. I got through the first 50 pages or so and my heart is beating so passionately in tune with what I’m reading, I probably won’t put this one down. Actually, what I’m doing is listening to the audio book (available from ChristianAudio.com) while doing my morning cardio-walk; however, there was so much going on in the audio I came home and skimmed through the quotes and highlighted the main points in my hardcopy. This book is going to be gold! I plan to recommend it for reading together with my fellow district pastors as well as introduce it to my fellow clergy in my local ministerium. I would love to quote some of the book as a teaser, but I don’t know that it would be fair at this point. In the introduction alone there are over 80 citations and quotes; Len Sweet is weaving and unpacking (a beautiful paradox) a remarkable story that is the organism of the church. I will be sharing my thoughts over the coming few days and end with a full review, but for now…, I’m so excited about this one I had to share. In the meantime, here’s a sample from the publisher, David C. Cook’s, site.
Found a lot of cool stuff around the webworld and blogosphere in recent days and thought I’d share some of it with you. Let’s start with church marketing guru Richard Reising who makes an excellent point about helping to bridge “outsiders” to be “insiders” with his continuing Starbucks analogy.
Brian McLaren furnishes a passel of interesting links from one of his “blog round-ups” here.
There is an intriguing analysis from Ed Stetzer on the latest data from the Barna group looking at behavior and experience during the Christmas season. He furnishes us with a few more links to look at as well.
I’ll be teaching an adult Christian ed. class this winter on “how to read the Bible,” so I am continually on the lookout for interesting topics and material to help me with my endeavors. Michael Spencer aka internetmonk.com gives props to some books and thinking that might help me out. I thought some of you might like his information as well.
I would have missed this one if it weren’t for Scot McKnight’s head’s up post (his weekly meanderings). Scot shares an insightful and thought-provoking article from Tim Keller on the gospel message. If you’re looking for something to kick-start your morning or your thinking, this is it.
Tim Stevens (executive pastor at Granger Church) was one of the speakers at the recent Sticks Conference I attended (and blogged about here). He offers up some thoughts on denominational association and influence on his blog that I thought were worth reading and sharing. Mark Beeson, senior pastor at Granger, tags on his thoughts about the topic here.
Monday Morning Insight blogger, Todd Rhodes, shares this link about the coming trends in mulit-site campuses with this post.
I think this entry from stuff Christians like is hilarious…not only is it funny on its own, but I can totally relate (LOL)!
If I haven’t provided you enough fodder for thought yet, how about this furious barrage of links:
- Emergent-Missional 2008 highlights
- Reading the Christian Mystics and more here…
- Can’t get enough??? Try this from Themelios.
- Still not enough??? Here are Trevin Wax’s Kingdom People Blog with a few links and a chance to win his favorite books of 2008.