For many pioneers it’s lonely, hard and the gift of not fitting is the gift that you often want to give back. Many people I know are questioning where they fit and how to connect. As old systems die and new ideas emerge those with the gift of not fitting can connect and in most cases this creates a resilient movement for system change. (System change theory)
Over the past few decades we have seen this in church, the old system and institution is in its death throws, pioneers connections made us think that the new system can emerge from these connections. We saw some possibilities emerge with things like mission shaped church and FX that encouraged us to think it maybe just around the corner. Social media and networks helped many of those early emerging church pioneers find each other and in doing so we started to find our tribe. Many of the tribe were also already in the institution and the possibility of change led others to connect.
However many people I know with a deep sense of missional spirituality that emerged from practice on the ground are wondering if this is still their tribe and sensing something is not quite right.
I think two things are happening. Firstly because the church is such a strongly double wrapped paradigm it is much harder for those connectioned individuals to get the change needed to help the new system emerge. As the church embraced those from the edge that double wrapped paradigm bought control and sanitised the re-wilding. I’ve written elsewhere for example that FX gave the institution the ability to control the emerging church.
Secondly the rise of social media meant that the network grew fast and this caused it to be noticed. So then as institution got involved often with good intentions it meant in that growth the network accelerated but it also dissipated which created perfect conditions for the double wrapped paradigm of systems and hierarchy to pull back from real change.
But I think the good news is that the missional spirituality embedded within pioneers always pulls us back to wild practice and hope of change, and this is why so many are struggling to find our tribe within this new set up. But perhaps we need to think differently about systems change in the institution and our place in it because the institution has still not admitted to itself honestly where it’s at.
So instead of looking for a particular tribe and networking for change we need to recover and lean into our missional spirituality that bought us this far and recognise that there is a deep ecosystem at work that finds a way across tribal boundaries, and beyond institutional systems and connects. This will mean for some staying connected with institution and edge, for others leaving the institution again, but let’s foster that underground ecosystem that nurtures and sustains and that you only find as you embed yourself in your community and find others doing the same.