Sunday, February 28, 2010

ways into small missional community [14] love your roots

Here's the latest in my series of posts seeking ways to start and sustain new small missional communities of the Christ, shaped by and for our settings and cultures:

This may be obvious but perhaps worth saying. Every new community or project emerges from somewhere and evolves from something that has gone before. One of the most encouraging things about almost all the emerging/evolving projects that I know is that there seems to be a real desire to find ways to keep on belonging to the places and people from which the new thing has come.

I think that it’s really important to love your roots. There’s a vital mix of strength and humility in recognising that we are part of something bigger - part of the Christ-following community down the centuries and around the world - and part of that bigger body both locally and globally. It’s also helpful to recognise that both new thing and institution are part of each other’s learning. The institution needs the new thing to help it to continually reshape itself for the changing culture. The new thing needs to receive the long-broad view of the tradition.

That’s not to say that it will always be easy to work with the organisation that you are part of. Sooner or later most projects seem to face difficult moments in this relationship. It’s almost inevitable that the innovations of the new thing will feel like criticism to the institution [a critique that may be needed of course]. And at times the new thing will feel constrained or misunderstood by the processes of the institution [processes that also may be needed sometimes].

It seems important to me that we need to avoid watered down compromises. We need to find ways to let the new thing be courageously new, in relationship with an institution that carries the best of the tradition with devotion, both following their callings with confidence and humility.

What can we do to love our roots again today?

peace to you
Ian

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