Monday, January 19, 2009

missional church | table ministry

I'm starting a new conversation on Facebook with others from my Doctor of Ministry class in Missional Church (congregational mission and leadership, CML) at Luther Seminary.

I'm frankly sick and tired of the title 'emerging church.' Not that I don't share the values and deeply embrace what it stands for, but realize that it comes with too much misunderstanding and freakin frustration to explain it to those not even willing to give the time to try and understand it. There's evidence everywhere that people are wanting to distance themselves from this language from the recent Luthermergent article to a conversation I had recently with Dan Kimball at an Outreach Convention in San Diego back in November when he said "we've grown beyond that term and don't even want to associate ourselves with it anymore." We are at a significant period after ten years of emergent where significant contributors are reflecting on where it all stands today over at Next-Wave Church and Culture online site.

I think everyone is ready for some new language. My hope, in the end, is that we're really all trying to contextualize church within a theological framework grounded in God as we learn to become the people of God faithfully in and for the life of the world.

I'm going to start using the phrase "Table Ministry" as a better descriptor of the particular Missional Church we're cultivating at The Flagstaff Abbey. While we'll always have an emerging ethos because of new DNA and maturing community, the word is slowly falling out of our vocabulary. This idea of Table Ministry is so much richer and clearer, at least for me, and makes helpful relational connections to the very source and ground of its description, that is, it's God's table that becomes an extension into our lives, in and through our discernment to participate with who we are already claimed and called to be in the world.

It's not that I think this will be the new term, but for me this is the metaphor for the very emergent concept we're all trying to gravitate toward: who's not at the table who should be at the table? Who is God calling to nourish for the life of the world? I'll be leading a workshop on this next Wednesday down in Scottsdale for the Missional Leadership Conference at Spirit in the Desert.

When it comes down to it these are the primary convictions around God's banquet table:
1. God is already at work in the world before we even show up, duh?!
2. God is calling us to figure out what that work is.
3. God is calling us to get on board with that work, actually show up together and do something about it.

So, if you're interested in listening, sharing and shaping the conversation, I sure would love to have you with us. You don't even need to be Lutheran, and to God I hope you're not because we need all the help we can get to break this thing open into new territory. The more voices sharing at the table the better.

Again, you can check us out on the FB Group titled "Congregational Mission and Leadership, CML DMin. Program at Luther Seminary."

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