Monday, October 27, 2008

Figuring Out Missional

In my leadership at my church, I wrestle almost every week about what it means for us to move into a missional way of being the church. It is so easy for our leadership team to grab hold of easy answers to the question of what our church will look like in the future. We are tempted to label a structure for the future church and define all of the new structures that we will provide for the church. We try to define the church around geographic mid-size churches or we try to predict that our church will become a network or networks of small groups.

But there is a problem here. We assume that changing the structure will change the people. But if you move a person from sitting in a weekend service with 1800 people into a group of 300 people or into a house of 15, we cannot assume that people grasp the nature of a missional perspective on the church. We can change the language and the structures of the church all we want, but to assume that we have changed the people is just plane stupid. 

But we have been shaped by a modern view of the world. A modern imagination assumes that we can predict the future by extending the past into the future. Because our church experiences have been based on certain kinds of structures, we often fall into the trap of thinking that simply changing our structures will change our experiences. 

I have been down this path too many times in the small group conversation. And to assume that giving small groups some kind of "mission" or outreach project actually changes nothing within the group. 

I like something a colleague of mine said in a meeting today. Instead of thinking about structures that we want to produce, we need to think about leadership and levels of leadership. If we think about three levels of leadership: Trans-local, Neighborhood Elders and House Churches. If we think about it in these three kinds of leadership, we can allow the leadership within the neighborhoods (specifically the elders) to interact with the local neighborhoods and see how the house churches will be shaped. This will also allow the Elders to be creative about how the House Groups will work together within their specific geographic region. 

The key to the development of this is the identification of, vision casting to and the empowerment of Elders. We must identify a group of people whom we see fitting into the Elder role. 

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