Brother Maynard wrote a great post today on some important issues in living and thinking Missionally. You would be wise to check it out here. He refers to an article that you can read completely HERE yet I have summarized below. It is VERY HELPFUL to comprehend this reality – movements are important and having a movement "mentality" is critical as a follower of Jesus. I have always referred to the Transfiguration story in regards to adhering to a movement mentality…it has been a HUGE temptation in every era to "institutionalize" the movement of God. Whether it is to embrace and attempt to hold on (encapsulate or "wall up") something as miraculous as the appearance of Elijah and Moses or whether it is to "brand" a movement of the Spirit among God’s people through putting a name on it, hiring a staff, and building a building, our instant reaction to something wonderful is to try to experience it again and again instead of looking for the next movement of God, the next experience of the wind of the Spirit, the next dip into the living Water. It is always easier to go back to what you have bottled up instead of looking for the next rock to strike when God directs. So, I like the idea that ALL ministry is a movement. That’s why some of these points are helpful:
“…the missional church…is a renewal movement. I see it as a moving of God’s Spirit within the Western church at a very critical time in its history. We find ourselves (most Christians probably agree on this) in a time of decline. Churches in the West are in trouble: internal dissensions, the failure and discouragement of leadership, loss of our youth, widespread negative perceptions of Christians by outsiders, and the death of many congregations. Just the kind of dry-bones situation where the breath of the Spirit often begins to blow!
(but)…I am impatient for the transformation, and that’s where the trouble begins . . .I imagine those of us in the missional church movement sometimes sound a bit (critical) to believers perplexed by massive changes in the church and culture, but not sure “missional” is the way to go. They may hear the message as, “move out of the way,” “get with the program,” “admit you are wasting your time,” or something equally uncharitable. To them the missional discussion seems like just another way to “diss” the past. When missional leaders point out current problems in the church, they often appear to have an arrogant disregard for what God has already done—as if the Holy Spirit has been totally absent for the last century and nothing of eternal significance has really been accomplished! Good people thus feel attacked and undervalued, their contributions unwelcome and unneeded. I suspect most renewal movements, whether by intention or misunderstanding, have conveyed such messages.
To those who have felt attacked, I apologize. The point is not to discredit the sincere and often productive endeavors of the past, but to ask, "How can we be faithful to the gospel in the new cultural situation of the 21st century?" Of course any attempt to answer this question involves evaluation of our current situation and some level of critique of the current state of the church. (But we)…need to remind (ourselves) that if this is indeed a movement of the Spirit of God, it will make its way among the people of God with power and certainty.
Another problem many people detect in renewal movements is a prideful spirit. In the case of the missional movement some folks have sensed a triumphalist spirit among its proponents, as
if we are saying, "This is THE ANSWER, we have found THE WAY, wisdom now resides with US!"
Certainly triumphalism in all its forms is divisive and offensive. To the degree that missional church leaders are guilty of this, we need to repent. Triumphalism is not helpful and does not honor the Lord or his people. However, I would like to offer a note of caution to those who think the missional church is triumphalistic and who are tempted to dismiss the movement on that basis. Part of what initially attracted me was the willingness of missional leaders to admit that they did not have all–or even many–of the answers to the problems facing the church today. The point is that this discussion is not about having all the right answers, but rather trying to identify the most important questions before the church–and working toward biblically and theologically sound answers.
This is good stuff…take it seriously! More to come…