Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Steve Huston shares from Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger

Since we in the Vision Ministry Team have been talking about missional leadership here's what Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger wrote in a recent article "Simply Missional":

Dell Computers has shattered the warehouse myth. Most companies love big warehouses. They feel safe with lots of inventory on large shelves in massive warehouses, always ready for that next order. In their minds, the well-stocked warehouse confirms the belief they will always be able to meet customer demands and customer expectations.
Dell disagrees with the warehouse approach. In the technology business, the product literally rots in value on the shelves. Because Dell does not want their best resources on the shelves, they only keep two hours of inventory. Which means that if you order a PC on dell.com, the parts will not arrive to Dell until two hours before your PC is shipped to you.
Dell wants their resources out there, on the street. Not in the warehouse, where the resources merely gather dust and produce no impact. So Dell has designed a very strategic process to move their resources to the street.
Sadly many churches are betting their futures on the warehouse myth. Most churches build big warehouses and shelve a bunch of Christians (those rows look suspiciously like shelves). They design attractive programs to "retain" people in the sacred warehouse, keep precise records of how much inventory (people) is on the shelves, and brag about their warehouses being constantly open. And warehouse managers love to show other warehouse managers their newest warehouses while dreaming together of bigger and better warehouses.

God is calling churches to shatter the warehouse myth, to change their warehouses into strategic distribution centers, where people are distributed as salt and light to the world--sending them out on mission. Some churches are strategically challenging their people to be out there, and these churches have a strategic and simple process that moves people from the warehouse to the street. These churches are simple and missional. They are simply missional.
We need all types of missional churches--big, small, traditional, contemporary, with country music (did we say that?), hip-hop, some with guitars, some with organs. We need churches in homes and churches in well-marked buildings.
The container is not the issue. The issue is not staying contained. All types of churches should seek to release their people to be missionaries in the culture. And all types of churches need a discipleship process based on knowing and doing. We believe having a process for discipleship is essential in any effective church model and that process must contain an equal amount of lab work and classroom study. We believe any effective church model will challenge and cause their people to be missional.

As you read this, Dell's parts are being moved to the street. Out of the warehouse. What about the people in your church? They are your greatest resource. Are they being distributed to the world around them? Do you have a simple process to move them to missional involvement?

Susan Andrews on The Great Emergence

In her wonderful book The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle describes the full scale "rummage sales" that the Christian Church has undergone every 500 years or so since the birth of Christ. Shaped by and responsive to large cultural and historical forces, the Church has been changed by context - and the shifts in authority, practice and community life have been radical in every instance. One age must clean out the ghosts and relics in the attic, so the house of one's forbears may be sacred space and story for contemporary times.

100CE - The end of the Apostolic Age, where fresh faith blossomed through personal testimony, apostolic authority, and the stories and narratives of to eye witness events. Second, third, fourth and fifth century authority is found secondarily in creeds and councils, culminating in Chalcedon in 451.

590CE - Gregory the Great becomes Pope, just as Dark Ages are ushered in by the fall of the Roman Empire. Gregory's authority institutes and extends to a broad system of monasteries and convent that solidify the faith and preserve the tradition.

1054CE - The Great Schism, when Constantinople and Rome went separate ways in terms of doctrine, papal power, and liturgical tradition. Authority becomes vested in the Church/Pope.

1517CE - Luther's 95 theses ushers in the Great Reformation, where a decaying church institution is challenged by the authority of the scripture, printed in the vernacular, ushering in the idea of the priesthood of all believers.

2000CE - The Great Emergence - where technology, globalization, intellectual scientism, institutional and familial decay lead to an anti-intellectual, post-modern revolution and the unfolding of a relational, mystical, emergent church - based on the fluid authority of the Holy Spirit expressed through relationships, experiences, and missional engagements in the world.

MY THOUGHTS:This paradigm of the half century "rummage sale" is liberating in several ways. First of all the radical changes are inevitable - wrought by trends and historical winds we cannot control. Or to put it theologically, since our Sovereign God is in charge, God is in the midst of these massive changes. We simply cannot hold on to "old church" - and if we try, we are standing in the way of the continuing work of resurrection. And when looked at from above, these historical shifts during the past 2000 years have been very good for the church. By letting that which is decayed or dysfunctional die, the Church rediscovers the mother lode - the Gospel of grace and love and justice at the heart of our faith. By getting rid of the junk, we find the true treasures and reclaiming them as the family jewels. And we are turning our energies toward telling the stories, not dusting the archives.

So, do we need to get rid of our buildings - so there is no place to store the junk? I wonder.....