Saturday, March 10, 2007

Emerging Infrastructure

In a previous post 'an emerging child of God' I highlighted what I believe is a central text, Luke 2, grounding the missional nature of emerging communities. The emerging church is often referred to as an ancient/future community and I believe that it is here where both ancient and future ideas can be developed.

The beginning lies here in verse 42 "And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival." My own emphasis here locates the emerging tendencies within this word 'as usual' which literally translates as ethos. The translation from Greek suggests custom, habit and practice (TDNT). In other words, Jesus' own life, as a Jew, was shaped around a particular communal ethos/habitual way of life in faith.

Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk co-author "The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church To Reach a Changing World." In chapter 8 of their book 'cultivating people for a missional future' they identify three key traits of missional communities including daily hours, hospitality and learning communities. Once I read this and with varying experiences among emerging churches in mind I had to heartily agree. When our attention is called to these three traits we can easily see them as well in the Luke 2 text.

Alongside of these three ancient practices, that are held and adapted in new and innovative ways within emerging churches, I will draw on Margaret Wheatley's work "Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World." Drawing on biology, complexity/chaos theory and quantum physics she explores such issues as relationships as the necessity of life, chaos and change as the only remedy to transformation, participation and cooperation are essential to survival in this interconnected world, and that order is natural, but not available through traditional methods of control (minimally paraphrased from the back cover of the book).

As an aside: this book is simply amazing and in my opinion is a must leadership type-manual for understanding the organic leadership style within emerging/post-modern communities.

In chapter 8 of her book 'change: the capacity of life' she says:

"My colleagues and I focus on helping a system develop greater self-knowledge in three critical areas. People need to be connected to the fundamental identity of the organization or community. Who are we? What do we aspire to become? How shall we be together? And people need to be connected to new information. What else do we need to know? Where is this new information to be found? And people need to reach past traditional boundaries and develop relationships with people anywhere in the system. Who else needs to be here to do this work with us? As a system inquires into these three domains of identity, information and relationships, it becomes more self aware." p. 146

It dawned on me through the reading of this particular chapter that the three 'domains' referenced by Wheatley are similar in nature and meaning to the three keys mentioned within The Missional Leader. As a result I have begun to see these habits as interconnecting with each other in profound ways.

Daily Hours ('Keeping Time' as I will call it) = Identity
Hospitality = Relationships
Learning Communities = New Information

Over the next several weeks I will begin unpacking each of these as I have come to understand them as framing emerging churches and post-modern communities.

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