Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Inside the Walls

Those who regularly drop by might have realised that I am a part of a missional move within an established, conservative evangelical church. Apparently we are something of an aberration. Most of the emerging-missional stuff that is happening around the place seems to be taking place outside of the established church.

As someone who is operating from within I can understand why. There have been many times that I have thought about running and starting anew and so often I read and am told that perhaps this kind of transition to the missional is doomed to fail simply because new life can't be found in something that is apparently dead or at least something that has reached its "use by" date.

But things are changing and I think we are starting to make progress and so I wanted to list some of the things I have observed and learnt to this point.

  1. Row boats have smaller turning circles than aircraft carriers. Small fellowships are going to find it easier to make changes than large, membership driven fellowships. Local churches decimated by the "black hole" effect of attractional mega-churches are in prime positions to make the missional shift. Often those left behind are those committed to their community and those that are committed to their community are more likely to appreciate a missional approach.

  2. Paradigm shifts require revolution. One dissident voice is seldom enough to evoke real, maintainable change. The use of many, reasoned voices is important - in our example these voices came through published works such as The shaping of things to come, and The church on the other side, as well as various web sources.

  3. Understanding something of missional leadership is important in making a missional transition. It's my opinion that a pastor in a traditional CEO type role would find it very difficult to transition a traditional congregation. The CEO role runs counter to the role of the missional leader as a fellow traveler. While there are still those in my fellowship that are waiting of the "real" pastor to arrive, I think many are now starting to see the benefits of traveling together down this road. The transition then becomes a shared experience and lessons are learned together.

  4. Grace is required. If a missional transition is to occur it must be the work of the Holy Spirit. No amount of brow beating, bashing or coercion is going to make it happen. There will be those for whom change is simply going to be a slow process or, in reality, may never occur. These people are important to God too and must feature in our prayers and be considered in our intentions.

  5. Wherever possible, don't go it alone. Just as a revolution on the grand scale requires many voices, so too does revolution on smaller scale. Of course, as has been our experience, it isn't always possible to find people in your midst that are already thinking the same way, and so its important to join in with others who are heading down the same road wherever you can - online, through books; or the best option, face to face.

  6. Be willing to try new things.

  7. Be willing to fail.

  8. Pray.
I am really keen to connect with others who are in the process of transitioning an established congregation. From what I hear, I don't think there are too many of us out there. But I am sure we can help each other by sharing our experiences, successes and failures.

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