I think this is really important. Congregations gather around bad dynamics and good ones. Ones that play on anger and fear, and ones that draw us into the fullness of Jesus Christ. (I once called these the “empty politic” versus the “politic of fullness”). One set of dynamics leads us to withdraw from the culture, the other set shapes us in the surrounding culture for mission. It is really important to understand these dynamics that shape congregations.
I believe God has given us in Christ practices that over turn the bad dynamics of gathering people via antagonisms, false causes, consumerism. Instead, we as pastors and leaders can lead people to form communities into His presence among us, His reign, indeed His mission.These practices: the Lord’s Table, proclaiming gospel, reconciliation, being “with” the least of these, being “with” children, the five fold ministry, Kingdom prayer – are the practices given to us by Jesus (along with baptism) that shape congregations in their context (as opposed to against their context), engaging their context (instead of withdrawal from it), for the blessing and renewal of their context in Christ (instead of in antagonism with their context). They shape us into His Kingdom becoming visible through His people.
We’re exploring all of this in a course this summer at Fuller Seminary. It’s about congregational formation!! The way we lead and shape congregations. Whether you are a church planter, a leader of a congregation in need of renewal, or a leader of a congregation that needs a new direction, this course will explore the dynamics that God has given us for calling people together in Him!
Here’s one of my awesome slick personally produced videos for you to further consider this course 🙂
If you’re at Fuller in the DMin program, and this interests, sign up for the class TM 738 Cultivating the Kingdom: Shaping Communities for God’s Kingdom, Aug 4-8 2014! won’t you?
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.