I'm part way through Alan Roxburgh's book Missional Map Making. It's quite a challenging read, but as I work steadily through the chapters I recognise much of my own journey in ministry and leadership. Things like the sense of unease I feel when I get the feeling that we're trying to do church like a business. Things like the creeping awareness that things are not as they should be but not knowing quite how they should really be. And many more.
Roxburgh's book is not an easy read. For some it may well appear to go too far, throwing out the institutional baby with the traditional bath water. But it doesn't. On the other hand it does challenge the received wisdom of doing church like we've always done it.
The simple truth is that in our current cultural context, the old ways are highly unlikely to work as they did, if they ever truly did. Somehow we need to contextualise our message and our methods.
One of the truly challenging things is that we need to recognise is the way we think, and realise we may be following an out-of-date map. The people we are trying to reach do not share the same story we have grown up with or come to faith within. They may not even be asking the questions for which we have carefully prepared answers.
It's a confusing context, but Roxburgh encourages us to encounter God in both the Biblical text and the local context and thereby learn to draw new maps. A job not just for leaders but for everyone whowants to partner with God in his great mission.