With so much conversation in the blogland on hell and orthodoxy it has been interesting to watch. I thought Kesters latest post interesting on living in theological fear very interesting and I wonder how much that shapes who gets heard or access to the pulpit.
However my main question was how much of this conversation was rooted in day to day mission and living with people facing the issues on the ground everyday, and how much this sort of praxsis was shaping the conversation rather than as a kind of theological speculation. (see developing doctrine from practice)
For me there is something about how following the missionary God leads us into heresy and to challenge orthodoxy as we encounter, value, learn, and seek G-D on the journey and then we find / rediscover the missionary God in the other we were seeking to follow in the first place. But it is new discovery or facet.
Anyway hat tip to TSK for this quote
“A religion that is not constantly spawning alternatives and heresies has ceased to think and has achieved only the peace of the grave.” Phillip Jenkins Jesus Wars
When we started with church on the edge there were a number of questions we had around mission and church that were important. They included things like, what does Donovans new place look like for young people, By name is G-d known in this context, what is church?
For me they broke down into two main categories, – There were Star Trek questions, that perhaps will never be answered but keep fueling the missionary imagination, questions about the new place. These questions keep you on the journey and keep you on a missional trajectory – to boldly go. Then there were the Star Wars questions which were more practical and about the steps towards breaking out the old way of doing things and moving beyond the empire of the instution towards a practical outworking of the force. Although hard to answer, these were more attainable, eg what is equivalent of Engai to the young people
When it comes to mission a lot of what we do is instinctive or stems from the feeling that something needs to change. However unless you identify your questions it is hard to begin to re imagine any answers.
What are your missional questions?
It took me while to reflect on why I had a disquiet about yesterdays post on Mike Frosts, Gaby Ngaboca and TSK’s conversation around missional church. I think the root is that whilst Mikes examples in his talk seemed to be in an Outside Out approach (and were truly inspiring), the way he phrased the question “what would our worship/community/disciple making look like if they were shaped by mission?” FEELS like an inside out approach to mission.
The “our” word is problematic as whilst the way he discusses mission is more missio-dei this question is more inside out, and attractional (which I assume was not his intention based on other stuff he has written). TSK comments that the culture then helps shape the way you then become missional church, but I wonder if by then due to the feel of the question and the insider start to the question ifgravitational pull would have already kicked in for most churches.
So when it comes to missional imagination perhaps we are back to the bare bones of the question that simply asks “what is G-D doing (or where is G-d) in this context?” and allow that to start the journey to missional church.
NB This may not make much sense as words are problematic.
Often people talk about awareness in mission, the need to be open to what God is doing, and this is critical. However this a part of the process, and we need to discover a place of awareness. Without sounding too much like an old duffer, when I was younger, practicing the spiritual disciplines of silence, different prayer forms and awareness exercises was a key in helping me tune into what G-D what doing on the streets. Like any muscle it needed training and exercise. However the process became too important and I found my self looking for acts of kindness, giving or love etc and it was spotting these that tuned me into the recognition that we were in a thin place, where heaven and earth seemed closer. More recently I have found I needed to practice inhabiting the thin place in the whole of life, slowly I have begun to learn to tune into seeing Jesus in both the act and the person. It is like the difference from being aware you are walking on thin ice and so watching for every step, to simply being in tune with the ice that you walk on so you spend less time watching your step but feel the environment with all your senses.
Last week on visiting some of the great projects around, we went walkabout. On encountering a group one guy the workers knew was homeless, so they checked to see how he was doing. As they chatted over the income support forms another in the group reached across and gave the guy a chocolate bar. He wasn’t sharing a piece because he was eating a bar himself, but simply a response, a seemingly random act. The guy was homeless simply said thanks stuck it in his pocket for later and continued to work on the forms.
I felt christ in the workers, both young people, the sacred space and the well know chocolate bar but I knew we were in a thin place the moment I parked the car and hour or so before the encounter.