Mike Breen writes a follow-up to his previous discussion starter. Good stuff. I want to interact with just one piece of it. He writes,
“If we look at it objectively, we see churches with discipling cultures (that focus mainly on the transformation of individual self) and churches with missional cultures (which focus on the transformation of the world/people around us) and we often see tensions between these two camps.”
Hmm – now I wonder if this tension is the old tension between a “spiritual” gospel (Jesus My personal Savior) and a this-worldly, transformation gospel (Jesus the Lord of all). This tension exists both in theology and in practice, though for many of us it also represents a personal journey (and some of the work of James Fowler helps illuminate it for us. In general terms its a movement from “me” to “we.”) Mike continues,
“One has a clue, but no cause. The other has a cause, but no clue. High mission/low discipleship church cultures have issues with Biblical literacy, theological reflection and deficiencies in character and Creed that, in the end, sabotage the very mission they’re about…
“High discipleship/low mission church cultures have strength in the previous issues, but lack the adventurous spirit/ heart of compassion and Kingdom compulsion… Their transformation isn’t leading to the place God is taking them… these kinds of churches will turn into Christian ghettos, creating people who lob “truth bombs” over their high, secure walls, creating an “us vs. them” mentality. In both, something is disastrously off.”
Great observation. This is the kind of dichotomy that results when we separate things that God never intended to be separate. We pray “Thy kingdom come.. on earth..” because the goal of the kingdom IS transformation – the summing up of all things in Christ. God is setting the world to rights. Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch have done some good work helping us to weave the pieces back together, I have in mind “The Faith of Leap” today – we really are called to a great adventure. Ok, more from Mike –
“At the end of the day, we can probably boil being a disciple down to two things: Character and Competency. We want the character that Jesus has and we want to be able to do the things that Jesus could do (competency). Discipleship is learning, over the course of our lives, to become people who have both.”
A nice reframe of the leadership material. Thinking in terms of character and competency in disciples feeds us nicely back into some of the work done by Dallas Willard – I have “VIM” in mind – vision, intention and means. Any time we leave out one of the triad we fail to reach the goal of forming disciples. Mike has led us in a helpful reflection.