Missional Field Notes

Quotes, Examples, and Ideas from My Missional Frontier

I just recently discovered the work of Steve Thomason online through the blog post about this sketch. It struck me because we just closed out our missional groups for Lent with this passage, The Great Commission. One of the things I really like about what Thomason says (both in the drawing and in his writing) is how messy this following of the great commission is.

See, each of the groups, in their discussion of this passage from Matthew, noted that “some of them doubted.” One might think that the whole fact that Jesus is alive and is among them would eliminate all doubt. But it’s just not so. And, if that were the case, it would be so unlike today. Our mission is messy because we are messy.

Thank you to Steve Thomason for his work. There’s a lot of good stuff on the site and I actually subscribed to the RSS feed right after finding it.

From Alex Absalom

While I read Alex Absalom’s stuff, I have not spent much time considering what he has concerning OIKOS. However, I am swayed of it being a way to understand how it is the church in the first few centuries of its existence was able to spread. It spread through networks of relationship…which is far different than what it became after getting institutionalized as “church.”

Says Absalom:

In Greek and Roman society, everyone was part of an oikos.

Headed by the senior citizen, your oikos (a Greek word that means ‘household’) included your family, relatives, friends, neighbors, slaves, and business associates (since most business and trade took place out of the home). In other words, it was your primary relational network — your extended family, if you like.

And, as we think about how this translates into today’s world, he writes:

The nearest modern version of an oikos is your extended network of relationships. This will be a group of roughly 20 to 70 people, with whom you share snapshots of what it would be like to be close friends, these snapshots leading to meaningful bonds of affinity. These people won’t (can’t) all be your closest friends, but this group feels like your broader context for belonging. It is your gang, your clan, your extended family.

One of my challenges, upon reading this, is realizing how “institutional” my approach to missional community has been. I’ve made it into one of the “programs” of the church. And now that Lent is over and the “curriculum” is over we can move on to other programs, I fear it is going to fall by the wayside.

But, perhaps we have built up some relationships enough so that there can be some continuation of this as we go forward.

Perhaps…

“Culture” here is used more broadly than “persons living in a different country” or “persons living in a different ethnic community.” “Culture” here can mean those who live in a different part of town or those who are of a different generation. And the speaker has to say is applicable even in our small communities up here in Alaska.

I found this quite moving. It’s a reflection by Kathleen Ward after meeting with Arabic Christians. And it’s a reminder to me to be thankful for the various Christian expressions around me. I need this every once in a while.

I am very grateful that God allows so many diverse and beautiful representations of his church to flourish. I celebrate that we can worship God in rows or in circles, informally or liturgically, in living rooms and in mega-churches, contemplatively or loudly, in organic or organized structures. We have so many different personality types and contexts that we need different expressions, different denominations, different models of ministry. Jesus promises to be present when His people gather in His name – without setting too many ground rules for what those gatherings are supposed to look like.

I want to thank traditional churches for carrying the Scriptures and the message of God through the ages and keeping it intact for us to receive today. I want to thank local churches for caring for the folk in your area. I want to thank mega-churches for providing a high-quality, attractional service for those who are seeking. I want to thank progressive churches for engaging in complex dialogue with those who are questioning. I want to thank missional churches for stepping out of your comfort zone and going where God sends you.

Beer Sampler @ The Lab from Flickr via Wylio

© 2009 J R, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

So, the Catholics have a bar. It’s in France. I’m not sure the teetotaling history of Methodism would allow for such a thing. But I’m intrigued.

A bar being run by the Catholic Church might sound like the setting for a lame Irish joke, but it’s not Irish and it’s no joke.

AFP reports that a bar recently opened in northern France with the backing of the Catholic Church. Bar Cana in Lille launched this month as part of an effort to reach out to younger people, who might be more willing to interact in a bar on a Saturday night than in church on Sunday morning….

The bar’s name is significant, referring to the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus is said to have performed his first miracle – turning water into wine, rather than the infinitely easier and much more common practice of turning wine into water….

There are nods to traditional Catholicism throughout the bar: the wifi password is Deo Gratias (God be thanked), and a carafe of house wine is referred to as a Madonna. Above the beer pumps (all the beers come from abbeys and monasteries, naturally) is a figurine of Pope Francis, and Biblical verses adorn the walls. Sadly, AFP doesn’t say if the wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape or if the top shelf is filled with holy spirits…

So…A Methodist Bar anyone?

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