Moved Mountains

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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Professionalism in the Missional Church - Part 1

My views on church leadership have been heavily influenced by the likes of Oswald Sanders, John Stott, John Piper and more recently Alan Hirsch, Mike Frost and Doug Pagit. I am a fan of the flat model of church leadership and not real fond of the CEO model currently favoured by much of the evangelical/pentecostal church.

However I have started noticing something that I think should not be ignored and it is causing me to ask a few questions about the role of the "professional" in the missional church.

I'll try and explain by using an example from personal experience.

Around 2 and a half years ago Lyss and I were privileged to be asked by a couple of unchurched youth from our town to spend a night a week telling them about Jesus. These same guys ended up inviting some of their mates along and a little youth ministry grew from nothing. This little group has since more than doubled in size, again with unchurched kids. I really don't know why the keep coming back, but they do.

At times Lyss and I really struggle to know how to take things deeper (relationally) with them, as, apart from odd moments of deep engagement, things seem to just cost along at a platonic level. The only thing we have to go on in terms of how things are traveling is that these guys keep coming back, and that they sometimes bring their friends along, who also keep coming back.

The upshot is, in more than two years I feel like we are only now just starting to get to know some of these guys on a deeper level. It has taken such a long time to earn their trust.

On the other hand, when not working for the church in Binningup, I run a drug and alcohol program in Bunbury. For me and my co-worker this is also an experiment in incarnational ministry but ... and this is a big but ... relationships with the "clients" develop much, much quicker in the professional environment of the program than seems possible in the non-professional arena of the community mission field.

It takes two weeks in the program to surpass the level of relationship that has taken more than two years to grow in the field.


Anonymous said...

Andrew, maybe it comes down to why they are there. In the case of the Youth in the Bunbury situation they are there for a reason and they have a purpose in mind for their time with you and they have an understanding of the time frame that is applied in that circumstance.

With the Youth in the church situation it was just to catch up once a week for you to tell them about Jesus. In that environment there is no timeframe or defined outcome, except to at some stage to know about Jesus. So it just wanders along without any perceived need for achieving anything other than have a bit of a chat and hopefully, particularly from your perspective, developing an understanding of and then relationship with Jesus. I wonder what would have been the outcome if you had said to the Youth who first approached you that you had a set format that you would be following and that they would "know about Jesus" at the end of, say, 10 weeks. Would they have started in the first place? Would they have felt inclind to bring friends? Maybe it's a case of horses for courses, and maybe there is a way to kind of meld the two. I think that some people will just latch onto the whole Jesus thing and soak it up like a sponge and others take quite a while to find how they feel and where their at with it. Not sure if your ever going to be able to know how each person will react. Maybe one way would be to do a kind of review of what have they learnt after a period of time to check what they are picking up and who's getting it.
Super Shane.

The Creature said...

I think a lot of it does have to do with purpose (see part 2 posted last night). And I think you are right - if we are too overtly "purposeful" in the field approach they probably won't come back. It'll become too much like school. Which is another issue in itself in terms of the way young people learn best.

Thanks for your comments Shane! :)