Monday, March 17, 2008

Designed in Mission is Over

This past Saturday we completed our Designed in Mission journey. Fittingly, we ended on a high note - this week's conversation between Lee Spitzer and Jonathan Malone was one of the best yet (and I'm not saying that just because Lee is pretty much my bishop). It was interesting to see how Lee and Jonathan are using similar themes to my own to help congregations be renewed. Lee's model of spiritual journey and the idea that congregations frequently replace "faithfulness" with "busyness" tracks very well with what I've been working on at Central. Lee's major point was when this shift happens mission is no longer the focus of the Church, "What I want" becomes the only criteria - which is dead on and describes Central beautifully. Jonathan set up a multi-focused approach of over-lapping circles: Discipleship, Worship, and Outreach (if I remember correctly). His circles (which he deliberately drew to form the Trinity Symbol) match up nicely to my three aspect approach that I formed with our three devotional studies that covered Evangelism, Pilgrimage, and Hospitality.

Now that the conversations are over I'll finish rendering and unloading the video I've taken. Once everything is on the web I'll work on getting the DVD's set-up. As Central Baptist moves forward with restructuring this is going to be mandatory material for the process. Here's a few thoughts as I move into the "post-production" era of DiM:
  • Traditional ways of passing on information are absolutely dead. People will tell you constantly that they want to have information passed to them in announcement, bulletins, brochures, and what-not - and perhaps they do. The problem is, they won't listen to it. We had brochures out in the church, and mailed to our region with a brief letter, bulletin announcements, and audible announcements. Those who weren't hostile to the concept were still like, "Wait, what's this?" five months into the session. Next time I do something like this I'm going to appoint an advertising leader.
  • A lot of the people I enjoy being in conversation with are from communities I'd never actually be able to be a part of. I can appreciate organic churches and mega-churches from a distance (and enjoy intersecting with them and working with them and everything in-between) - but my Ancient-Future leanings lead me to a much more connectional point of ministry. On a personal level, DiM helped confirm that for me in an environment where I was in genuine conversation.
  • Central isn't aware of the danger it's in institutionally (no, I don't think that's a bad word). There's still a lot of people who either think they'll wait people out until the 1950's return, and a lot of people who say, "I already know what I want" and therefor are unwilling to be stretched. This lack of urgency lead to low attendance.
  • I think I'm done trying to be the "front-man" to get people on-board with any new initiatives. Frankly, if I open my mouth people just sigh, "What now?" So, I'm going to tackle some folks who have truly disappointed me with their lack of courage in standing up to their peers and challenge them to step up to the plate. If only one of these people would actually stand up and say, "You know, we're being schmucks" this church would change at it's very core. It's time they took some responsibility for the mess we've been in for 30 years.
  • There's some good work being done out there for the Kingdom. I really don't want to copy any of these conversation partners - but I hope this material challenges/encourages me for years to come.

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