Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Four interesting principles for missional communities

From the blog of David Fitch comes an interesting piece about one particular missional community and the principles behind it. Here are the principles, (edited slightly):

  • He got a job. Wayne Gordon came to Lawndale humbly, expecting nothing and got a job in the community. He said, “because I didn’t need money it gave us freedom to do things. We didn’t have to focus on getting people into church seats and tithing.” He was able to be “with” people on their terms not on terms dictated by needing to get a church going that was self-sustaining.
  • He inhabited humbly incarnationally. He came to be “with” the community resisting any colonialist impulses. He came to listen to the community, hear the issues, and ask God how he could cooperate with His salvation in this neighbourhood.
  • He gave it time: He said “the number one reason things don’t happen is we don’t give it enough time.” He said “if you would have come here when we were fifteen years into it, you would have said nothing is happening here.
  • Money comes from God: Wayne talked about money as being a provision from God. For Wayne Gordon, faith does not mean we take crazy risks. Faith means we trust God that if we’re meant to do this we will wait long enough and God will provide the money. He said average time a project takes to go from initiation stage to completion is seven years. It takes perseverance.

When people ask us what we are doing or what we've done about planting a church in our community, we have very little to show them or to say at the moment. It can sound like we've done nothing. What we would say is that we believe that God wants us here, we believe that he is at work in our community, the thing is we just haven't worked out what he's doing at the moment. We've consistently said this is a long-term project, and we're not expecting an overnight success (no matter how nice it would be to be able to point to a flourishing community!) Time is really important in this process.

The other point that struck a chord with me comes in the first principle above. Succinctly it describes two of the big issues with legacy models of church planting. One is getting people into a building and the second is on who's terms do we do mission. So much of our historic mission has been done on the basis of inviting people into our controlled environment where we set the agenda. As the communities we try to reach continue to move further away from our the locus of our building-based activities we are faced with the stark choice of staying in our buildings and becoming increasingly irrelevant, or leaving the building and connecting with our communities.

You can read the whole post here.

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