Monday, August 28, 2006

Ministry Method Map

Recent conversations with Mike & Zack have helped me clarify the biblical foundation for what I've been calling "institution" for some time now as well as the need to relabel the general concept in a more practical & biblically coherent way. So, here are my latest thoughts on ministry method for incarnationally informed, missionally driven, communal practice (click image to enlarge):

Moving from the bottom-up, the uniquess of this model is in the emphasis on team-based, incarnational ministry vs. institution-based, attractional programs. Team Equipping & Sacramental Gatherings are the only gatherings that would not take place as an immersed, relational reality in the host, unbelieving culture.

As simple as I've tried to make the method, I still feel a certain sense of anxiety at its complexity & am wary of the human tendency to over-institutionalize. I believe this is a tension we will perpetually wrestle into a moment-by-moment surrender to God's immediate leading in the ever-changing now.

On the other more organic side of the model, there is a strongly biotic pattern (which is affirming when articulating anything having to do with growth). It is the cyclical pattern of 1) Gather, 2) Grow, 3) Go. While it might sound similar to the "Come, Grow, Go" paradigm some of us grew up with, it is radically different! Come, Grow, Go anchors & continually draws people back to a centralized institutional hub. Gather, Grow, Go produces a growth orientation that is ever-outwardly-mobile (as so instructed in Jesus' Mt 28 commission) while rooting the pattern in a communal starting point.

Thread: Structure


John Lynch said...

Aleta, I know your paintings are all about "intersections" in life. I'm having trouble imagining the natural flow of intersections among & between equippers, ministry team members, & unbelievers. Would you help me explore this by painting your impressions of this model in a way that touches on both organic & organizational necessities as well as the multi-functionality of people like me who would serve both as equipper & ministry-team-member, investing into both team & world?

Al said...

I'm on it!

Zack said...

This is good stuff John. You're definitely on to something here. My only concern is that this model might lead to greater sense of "us & them" than I am comfortable with. But I am not sure how you develop a methodology that drops labels, thus destroying the "us vs. them", but that also meets the needs of those investigating Jesus, while also meeting the needs of those following Jesus.

I think the issue that you well address in this thinking is, "How do we develop church structures that are true to the need for spiritual formation while also being committed to embracing and embodying the mission of God." In our "revolutionary community", we are seeing that begin to better flesh out by continuing the those-with-faith-alongside-those -without-faith weekly gatherings (which will be centered around a "relational covenant" we are currently developing) and adding a more intentional gathering for those who have expressed a committment to the "symbol life" (a common life lived in the ways of community, Christ, creativity, and compassion).

Those effectively creates a dual-meeting reality to our communities' existence - one for kingdom citizens to share life & faith with those who have not-yet-embraced Jesus and one for kingdom citizens to collectively discover how to expose the kingdom to the world around them.

By setting the focus of each gathering around a commitment (one to relationships, the other to the symbol life) we think people will not sense an "us/them" distinction.