I am a homer for Ecclesia Network. I admit it. In a country dominated by large mega conferences for mega church wanna be’s, where traditional denominations are struggling to deal with the big cultural questions, where you’re either a conservative Reformed person or a liberal something or other, where gender women issue is either hierarchicalized or obliterated, I have found myself most comfortable as a pastor in Ecclesia Network. Here we talk. We deal with tough questions (we birthed Missio Alliance for this very reason). No ego’s, no illusions.
I’m not saying it’s perfect. We struggle for diversity. But I can testify to much work and effort and some progress in this regard. And like any place, if you’re brand new, it will take some “presence” among us to get to know us (could it be any other way?). But ecclesia network is an usual place where if you’re willing you can find a place for the support encouragement and comradery for missional church ministry.
Mission is the central theme of the people who gather here. How do we engage and be present in this culture for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom in Jesus Christ? This question drives us. This is yet another reason why I love this place.
At the National Gathering I have met and talked with Dallas Willard, Alan and Deb Hirsch, Don Coleman, Todd Hunter, Jon Perkins (John Perkins’ grandson who took his place when John got ill), Mary Kate Morse, Mike Breen, Bob and Mary Hopkins of Fresh Expressions UK, Darrel Guder. At this year’s National Gathering 2014 we have Scot McKnight, Many Smith, Al Tizon, and William Webb all collaborating on the issues of Scriptural interpretation.
At Ecclesia National Gatherings we really don’t come to hear a group of scheduled performative presentations in a large crowd. It’s only about 150 of us at the most. We sit around and engage theological, cultural and practical questions with theologians and practitioners. We’re not trying to get big, but are seeking to make an impact locally, wherever we may be found.
Ecclesia Network is a unique ministerial family. We are comrades in ministry, learners together, askers of hard theological questions, leaders of congregations into Mission. Evangelical, charismatic, driven by God’s vision for justice and reconciliation of the whole world, realizing the church cannot be led by the Spirit without women in ministry. We’re NOT perfect. But we’re listening.
So, does this place fit who you are? If so, and you (or your church) can afford it, will we see you at this year’s National Gathering 2014?
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.