Seminary prepared me to do ministry
using models that no longer worked
in a church that was no longer relevant
for a world that no longer existed.
I first heard a version of that quote almost ten years ago, from a good friend and former colleague, John Stringer. I use that quote every time I begin the course I am about to teach.
In just a few weeks, I will be teaching one of the Core Courses we provide for our friends in Latin America, through REG's masters program in church leadership. That course is:
Emerging Paradigms of Leadership
in a Post-Modern World.
It is one of my favorite courses and it ranges over a wide terrain of territory. While I do constant reading on this subject, I ramp up my reading of new books every time I prepare to teach the course.
Two of the books I am reading are by Alan Roxburgh of the Missional Network. He is an important voice in this conversation. He is not always a pleasant voice, and in fact, he is often an irritating one. I find I disagree with him on numerous points, but deeply appreciate him on others.
Brief Detour: Just two of the points of disagreement I have:
(1) I think he fundamentally misreads the nature of spirituality that is both biblical and of great interest to postmoderns. His misreading is mainly one of being inadequate, lacking both breadth and depth of understanding. But that is not his interest. He is a missiologist and church planting specialist.
(2) I also think he is too modern is his thinking and falls in to the either/or thinking of modernity. And when it comes to his model, he is very either/or. His model is the only way in to the future. All the other ways of doing church are wrong. I believe Phyllis Tickle and her Great Emergent approach is better. She sees a multiplicity of models that will be viable.
I finished reading Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, which is the easier of the two and most accessible for most readers who are interested in the state of the North American church and "whither the future?"
I am almost finished reading Missional Map-Making: Skills for Leading in Times of Transition, which is a more challenging read, and I think mainly suitable for leaders. But it is very worthwhile. If you have read his two previous books written for leades, it is sufficiently different to warrant a reading.
His audience is a North American and European one. Here is a basic premise underlying both books, and for that matter, all the books which Roxburgh writes.
The times in which we (see above) are living are a fundamental time of change and transition. We are truly Post-Christendom. But, the church is still stuck in a Christendom model. That model no longer works. It can't be tweaked or morphed or salvaged. It is time to let go of it and move in to a new way of being and doing church.
Whether you agree or disagree with him, he throws down a necessary gauntlet of provocative stories, statistics and perspective (mapping a way forward).
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International