Thursday, February 28, 2008

Towards Vision 3/4

Another bit of Warren (Robert not Rick!) from a little book called Building Missionary Congregations. Published in 1995 so a little dated but nevertheless a helpful pointer for those talking about vision.
"The following is a list of the marks of a missionary congregation. However, it is important to note that this is based largely on theoretical work. Another list needs urgently to be constructed out of observation of what actually happens on the ground. The two need then to be in dialogue. Either list has the potential to 'convert' the other list; both stand to gain and be enriched.

1. Celebration. This is taken in its widest sense and refers to the ability and desire to enjoy life and the gifts that God has given, and to participate in celebrating the new humanity modelled for us in Christ, opened up to humanity by his death and resurrection.

2. Whole life Christianity. Expressing faith in God in the whole of life. The focus of church life would shift from 'church organisations', to daily life - to the home, work place, and community life. The emphasis would be on personal growth, relational growth, and obedience to God 'in the market place' - with all its ambiguities. The church needs what has been called a 'hippopotamus spirituality - a spirituality suitable for surviving in the mud!'

3. Simplicity. Both in lifestyle ('enough is enough'), and in church structure. The institutional aspect will need to be significantly trimmed, as the church's life becomes outer-directed. Familiar landmarks will go. There will be no room for resources without vigorous pruning.

4. Community. Only a community living by a different set of values has the strength to witness prophetically to modern society. It cannot be done by lone rangers. Such 'community' involves building loving, honest relationships which stand out against the 'fragmented relatedness' of consumer culture. vision

5. Empowering. A missionary congregation is one that has broken out of the provider/client relationship into collaborative ministry and equipping individuals to make their contribution.

6. Doing things differently. The pastoral and maintenance church tends to be marked by doing different things (church groups and activities). A missionary church will be marked more by doing the ordinary things (work, leisure, family life) differently.

7. Engaged. A missionary church will be strongly engaged in the local community, and deliberately working with 'all people of good will' (see Raymond Fung, The Isaiah Vision).

8. Distinctive. Such a church multiplies the number of points of contact with the surrounding culture as its members live Christianly. This happens as effective initiation evangelises the whole person, including their world view, value system, personal identity, and lifestyle.

9. Dimensional. Enlightenment Christianity functions in separate compartments, spirituality and mission rarely connect. A missionary (and ,post-modern') congregation thinks of the depths of whole-life issues, and of the spiritual dimension within every issue.

10. Still. A missionary church will be an oasis of peace and quiet, in a frantic world, able not to be driven by doing but reflecting on experience before moving on."(pp53)

Warren, R (1995) Building Missionary Congregations. Zondervan


Cosmo said...

I like the work of Robert Warren calling for experimental ecclesiologies, but with sense.

In fact, just today I received a copy of the reprint of his 'Being Human, Being Church'.

(Why do we not have more books like this written in the SA?)

Gordon said...

I'm not sure on that M - could be that we don't have clarity of thought that we thought we had! I did think it would be interesting if the editorial department actually reflected the music ministry and churned out books and articles instead of songster music!

Cosmo said...

You make a good point! But perhaps we only have ourselves to blame for not wrting and submiting material...