Posts Tagged ‘Alan Roxburgh’
I was going to write a post on this, but Brad has done a much better job than I would have. So pop over here and read about Northern Seminary’s forthcoming D.Min. program in Missional Leadership.
I’ve been blogging on things missional for almost five years. Yet it’s often hard to get a firm grip on the paradigm and many questions still surround it. Questions like: What does a missional church look like? What exactly is the missional church model? How does it function? Can our old existing church become one?
These are some of the questions Scott Boren and Alan Roxburgh endeavor to answer in their book Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Baker Books, November 2009, available in paper or Kindle).
I particularly liked the chapter titled “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” where the authors caution us to beware of formulas and models that can be copied and emulated. Instead they say “…we need to see ourselves being called out of the comfort and security of attractional church life onto a journey like Abram leaving Ur of the Chaldees; we are moving into a strange land without maps to guide us on our way to a land God will show us. We are like those early Christians after the church at Antioch was birthed by the Spirit. We know something has shifted, but no one has the formula; it’s confusing and filled with friction as we try to figure out the next steps.”
They dispute three perspectives in this chapter:
1. They challenge the elevation of any model, formula, or blueprint as the way to do church.
2. They challenge the argument that the Bible reveals a secret missional blueprint that will provide us with a magic pill for entering missional life.
3. They challenge the idea that there is some point in the history of the church that provides us with just the right pattern for creating missional churches.
The common thread through the book is that we are on a journey, we are wanders who need to “develop skills of reading the winds of the Spirit, testing the waters of the culture, and running with the currents of God’s call.”
“There isn’t one specific form, predictable pattern, or predetermined model. On these new waters we become pioneers who are creating new maps shaped in, with, and for the contexts and communities into which we have been called. Here we will learn to experiment and test ideas. Some will work; others will fail. Through trial and error we will imagine new ways of being Jesus’ people.”
There is also a great deal of practical assistance in the book for those existing churches who want to make this journey. Forty percent of the book is devoted to a missional change process that includes five phases: awareness, understanding, evaluation, experimentation, and commitment.
This table from the book will give you a feel for the process.
Introducing the Missional Church is highly recommended for those who want to begin or extend their “journey of entering into the missional river of mystery, memory, and mission.”
Disclosure: I purchased this book with my own funds.
In many cases missional is misunderstood to be simply a new language to describe things church leaders have already been saying and the church has been doing for quite a while. This makes people suspicious of missional language, causing them to assume it’s just another trendy word. So even with clear and precise definitions, we are still seeing the missional conversation misused and turned into new language for existing forms of church. This can result in people investing lots of energy into missional models only to be disappointed not too far down the road because they have been taken on a path that holds little promise of joining with the Spirit who makes all things new. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 34.
….the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. I think it is time to gather people together to do this…. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In this post, I’m going to attempt to do a little debriefing from the Allelon sponsored gathering on Missional Orders. Remember that this is just my perspective and my notes are far from complete. Each participant will have picked up on difference things and filtered them through their unique context, so you should attempt to read what others are also saying to get a full expression of what happened.
Allelon didn’t come with an agenda or answers. As the organizers, their hope was to bring together thinkers who, along with facilitators like Sara Jane Walker, Andrew Jones, and Pete Askew, could explore the concept both from a philosophical and practical point of view. It is unknown territory. Like journeying into one of those blank spots on a map which have never been explored. To put it in perspective, one participant quoted Robert Quinn as saying, we are “walking naked into the land of uncertainty.”
Why a Missional Order
The gathering was characterized by high interest, but lots of questions. One of those questions was, why such high interest? A number of individuals had responses like:
- It may be costly, but we yearn for a home where we can freely express the pilgrimage we are on and we don’t find that home in the modern church.
- Desire for other to learn from our own journey and that of others.
- To help guide others along on their own pilgrimage.
- A way to sustain us while we are in the game.
- The restlessness of God will not allow us to be still.
Len at NextReformation said it well on one of his posts, “I was looking for roots – something larger than an individual community, more enduring, and built around shared purpose.”
Let me add that one of my deep concerns is how do we organically sustain the missional movement. A loose organic Order of apostolic and prophetic leaders may be one of the answers.
Missional Order Values
Alan Roxburgh shared that a Missional Order has been on their mind for some time and set forth three “values” (my word) that any Order must reflect. They are:
- A deep non-negotiable commitment to the local church.
- A commitment to help these local congregations move back into the neighborhood.
- A commitment to the formation of missional leaders who want to go on a journey to help local congregations move back into the neighborhood.
Missional Not Monastic
A monastic community may be one expression of a Missional Order, but that was not the focus of this gathering. My impression of the Order would be a coming together of people committed to a rule of life (yet to be developed) and values (see above) that will, as Dan Steigerwald put it, link “a host of ecclesial and social-entrepreneurial communities/initiatives, so that those facilitating these might be developed and tied-into a bigger picture than simply their immediate local endeavor.”
A number of next steps were outlined including:
- Allelon framing out, based on our discussion, what a Missional Order might look like, how it would function, and a “Rule of Life.” All very much to be in draft form.
- Set a time to gather again (likely in March 2008).
- Start experimenting and learning as we each move NOW into the neighborhood.
Much, much more could be written, but this should give you some impression of our wonderful time together in conversation.
Feel free to ask question in the comments.