Posted by: Rowland | October 28, 2007

Missional Order or Community

While updating a friend as best I could on the current conversations about a Missional Order, he observed that an ‘order’ spoke to him of an elite exclusivity whereas a Community was more inclusive, with perhaps different levels of relationship. For us in the Caribbean, community is known, but in the family context: it is not what is associated with the the rules and regulations of church attendance. Presenting a model of relational church is quite revolutionary and can be quite threatening to what has been presented in the past as ‘proper church’.

Rather than laying down guidelines/rules for living perhaps important questions to reflect on would be what are the ingredients that have brought us to this place in our relationships so far? How then should this process be maintained and developed? E.g. community requires a commitment to communication – keeping in touch through ongoing conversations; a commitment to pray for each other with less emphasis on ‘how we pray’ but the fact of prayer; perhaps living closer etc.

What do we think?

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Responses

  1. Rowland, very good questions.

    For a small group of folks that I am involved with in forming a Missional Order of sorts the emphasis is on a few shared common commitments. Many of us are separated geographically, from 20 miles to 200 miles, therefore much of our communication will be ongoing via a website and “face to face” with gatherings a couple of times a year. Because of the distance for many I am not sure “community” is appropriate. Although perhaps we need to rethink this a bit. I hope we can use “order” in such a way not to seem elitist.

    We are still fleshing all of this out but I see a great need here from both leaders who desire to connect for spiritual nourishment and for those “revolutionaries” that are looking for greater depth in the spiritual journey.

  2. Hi Brad and thanks for making contact. I agree with the needs you mention.
    A few years ago a small supportive group of friends acknowledged a definition that “we were called to be a Community, deployed to model holistic life to the neighbourhoods of the region.” The non-religious language deliberately covered all we were involved with, making no distinction between sacred and secular. But we have not formalised this statement in any way and indeed key folk were quickly dispersed among the island nations and further afield. Conscious that we are thinly spread, we try to remain in contact and I am encouraging a younger generation of ‘revolutionaries’ by concentrating on the development of our shared DNA rather than structure at this stage. If we can get the DNA right then I think appropriate structures will emerge. So organic is taking precedence over organisation, which means things look pretty fragile but I’m hoping the relational joints will be strong.

  3. Rowley:

    You are asking very good questions.

    “Order,” these days, does indeed have some very negative associations in many minds.

    “Community,” too often is vague too, but at least it has a positive feel.

    So, it will be important to model and articulate a vision, develop the strategies that implement it, and show that it works on the ground. A missional community of prayer, the word and refuge re-equipping and resurgence, with ties back to the Celtic vision and example [and the NT era behind it], becomes a very relevant vision. Good DNA.

    As you know, too, from our long interactions and friendship [which have greatly blessed me!], my own view is that the operational form of the church’s mandate in Eph 1 and 4 sees us as the body of Christ, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way. Thus, we are a network with a common head and focus, pervading the “all” so that the Christ may be “the all in all,” the one who fills and blesses all things with his grace and glory.

    Ac 17 (the story of Paul’s visit to Athens) then shows how this — across time — can penetrate and transform even a reluctant culture. Short term, painful rejection and just a little progress, but across time the future belonged to Christ. Like the rising of the tide, progress may be all but invisible even while it is inexorable.

    In the case we face — a decadent, too often only nominally Christian [or even militantly “post-Christian in significant pockets] culture in desperate need of renewal, revival and reformation — the key issue is the need for repentance, the gateway to the four R’s of reformation.

    But, the blessed grace of penitence — as a rule — cometh only at great cost.

    So, I believe we need to think in terms of a trans-generational scale, much along the lines of the transition between Saul and David in Israel, or even the era from Samuel’s birth to Solomon and the aftermath.

    In the end, I am sure that in God’s grace he still pours out his Spirit on all flesh. By that grace, Christ shall prevail, and bring liberation, blessing, healing, liberation and transformation.

    Lord, haste the day when faith shall be sight . . .

    Grace, always grace!

    One of the “scattered”

    Gordon


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