Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tangible Kingdom Part 1: An Introduction to Missional Communities

I recently finished one of the best books I've read in a long time, "The Tangible Kingdom." I'll start my two part summary with the book's definition of what it means to be missional.  "'Missional at its essence means 'sent.'  The idea is the exact opposite of waiting for [people] to come to use us.  It's the antithesis of trying to "attract" them to us, our programs, our buildings, or our gatherings... 'Missional' has an inseparable twin. It's called 'incarnational....' Said another way, 'missional' sentness is focused on leaving and everything related to going, but 'incarnational' represents how we go and what we do as we go."

This type of living can happen in what the authors / pastors call "Incarnational Communities."  In order to live as a community on mission, however these Incarnational Communities need to commit to three practices.  The authors are pastors of the Incarnational Community, Adullum Community.

1)  LEAVING:  "intentionally giving up what is comfy, easy, and familiar and going somewhere else, doing something different, and giving up time so that we can connect with people.  Leaving isn't just about going overseas.  It's about replacing personal or Christian activities with time spent building relationships with people in the surrounding culture."  The authors recommend having or doing dinners out with Sojourners, "Leaving is committing at least one night a week or one meal a week to Sojourners." 

2) LISTENING: "Listening is watching and sensitively responding to the unspoken and spoken needs of Sojourners in ways that demonstrate sincere interest." 

3) LIVING AMONG:  "Living among means participating in the natural activities of the culture around you, with whimsical holiness... [being whimsy], therefore allows you to be with people regardless of their angle of life without casting any judgment their way...  Whimsy may be the missing element of Christlike love in today's world.  It's the essence of missional posture that helps gain someone's heart so that, someday, their behavior may also change... Whimsy implies that you can seamlessly interact in the culture with ease, humor, love and holiness without being swayed from clear biblical boundaries."

"[The biblical idea of blessing] wasn't just nice things you said to make people forget about their problems.  It was actally doing something about their problems... The real essence of biblical blesing is that it's done with NO STRINGS ATTACHED.... Learning to receive God's free, no strings-attached offer and then graciously living a life to extend blessing to others without charge and without exception is different.  When we become comfortable with unconditional love, I think we will find that it does witness correctly to who God is.  And it's a power that naturally draws people in."

"Living out habits are not steps to evangelism.  They are habits of a Christ-follower who wants to live faithfully like Jesus lived.  The rest is up to him.  We suggest that if you focus on these habits, you won't have to worry about the rest.  People will begin to love you, respect you, and take your life and the life of your community seriously.  You will also find that your spiritual life finally makes sense, because each habit breaks down your human selfishness. Each of the four habits of living out has a correspondin internal resistance.  It's a good place to center your prayers.

Selfishness is the enemy of LEAVING.
Fear is the enemy of LIVING AMONG.
Expectations are the enemy of LOVING.

Let developing these habits be your prayer and your commitment to God."

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