Thursday, July 13, 2006

"The Shaping of Things to Come" - 1 (Book Discussion)

If anyone's interested (especially you, Mike) I'd like to begin dialoging on a book I just started entitled The Shaping of Things to Come by Frost & Hirsch. It describes a very postmodern approach to church starting & I'd be interested in a bit of a book-club-forum thing on it. As Aleta & I pray & search for the long term ministry context God is calling us to, the issues it raises are especialy potent for us. (Also... I'm a slow reader, so if you want to order it now & join in, I'm sure I won't be too far ahead.)

Planting vs. Renewing
  • "Right up front we want to confess our belief that the planting of new, culturally diverse, missional communities is the best way forward for the church that views itself in a missional context ... " (p.x)
  • While some established churches can be revitalized, success seems to be rare ... " (p.x)
  • "...the real hope lies with those courageous leaders who will foster the development of alternative, experimental, new communities of faith." (p.x)

I'm serving at a small, denominational, older, traditional church that would certainly be entrenched in self-centeredness if they hadn't reached such a point of desperation a year ago. After this last year & looking ahead to the coming year, I see strong potential for this community to become somewhat missional. And yet, the culture behind this group... even the best of them... is strong enough that I have difficulty seeing them tear away completely from the mindset of institutional preservation & congregational survival that has fueled their efforts for so many years.

We need churches with entirely new cultures. How can such communities be built if they are not begun with elements of this radical vision present at their conception? I lean to agree with the authors that new plants are indeed the hope of the Church. May God lead & bless existing congregations; but the reformation we presently need strikes me as beyond what their cultural limits allow them to do.

How does this relate to existing churches planting new churches? Isn't there a tendency to pass on culture? Does that mean that planting is best done independently of planting agencies or churches?



Mike said...

John, I am excited to have this discussion with you!

I am a little hesitant on my blogg since some may read it that don't know what we are diong and shouldn't yet. I will think about that.

In relation to your entry...

In the existing churches I have had discussions about mission with the hope is very dim. One larger existing church in the area has hired Matt and Huge (missio guys) as consoltants for 2 or 3 years now. They are trying to put "Shaping" principals into practice. Their hope is that in 10 years they will have viable, missional, communities fully running in part of thier church. Get that 10 years and PART. Imagine how many churches can be started and reproducing in 10years. I think MANY!

With that said I am hoping to have a both and aproach. I hope to start a missional church with the support of our existing traditional church all the while influncing and working with the leaders and families still at that supporting church. A moving forward with out totally leaving behind. As far as I can tell the existing church and denomination sees very clearly it's shortcomings and wants to be shown a different way. They just are not sure how to get there. The best way to help them is to go and show them!

chrislillpop said...

Thanks for the invite. I would love to get together sometime. We don't get back to Chicago until August 15th. I would also like to read "The Shaping of Things to Come." I have started reading the book last winter but I have not gotten very far. I am not sure what my school load will be like but we will see. What do you think about getting together at the beginning of September?

John Lynch said...

Mike, I absolutely LOVE your last line... "The best way to help them is to go and show them!" You've captured my imagination by the idea of planting such a missional community with the mindset of connecting to & encouraging existing churches to "be imitators of me" as Christ blesses us to be first.

If it's a movement that spreads over the nation & world as people themselves do... If it's an Awakening in which we hold core to our identity nomadic missional values that result in continual "going"... could it also result in informal, global church-training & reformation? Could it be that natural? That easy?