Winter’s icy grip has melted away. Spring has sprung. Easter is almost here.
Perhaps it is the increased vitamin D from the vernal sun. Perhaps it is a few recent positive conversations with colleagues. Perhaps it is the projects I’ve been feverishly working on. Perhaps it is all of these things, but I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a long time.
The last year has not been easy, but I am thankful for the opportunity that it has afforded me to more deeply examine my second half of life vocation.
Our bishop is wise. She forced us to slow down, take a deep breath, and listen to God.
I’ve been trying. I’ll write more about the unfolding picture in coming weeks. For now, I’d like to share a purpose statement that has emerged in the process. It is not new. It is not groundbreaking. My missional colleagues will find it familiar. For me, however, it is clarifying.
This is what I feel called to be and do. It is what I hope to help the church be and do.
A Missional Purpose Statement
Missional Spiritual Formation leaders are called to cultivate dedicated disciples of Jesus who are equipped to discern God’s action in the world and empowered to participate in it.
Here is a quick break down of key terms. I’m sure I’ll unpack this further in upcoming posts.
Missional – God is at work in the world. God has a mission. Our job is to join in on it. (read more)
Spiritual Formation – We are all children of God, invited to grow up into maturity. Like all growth and development, spiritual formation takes hard work. We don’t work to earn favor with God or salvation. We work to grow deeper in the love of God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the world (read more).
cultivate – There is a big difference between cultivation and production. Cultivation is the preparation of space and opportunity for growth to happen.A farmer cultivates the soil. A farmer doesn’t make things grow. A farmer cultivates space in which the mystery of growth can take place. A missional leader cannot make anyone do anything or produce results. A missional leader patiently cultivates relational and physical spaces in which God’s Spirit can work in peoples’ lives. (read more)
dedicated disciples – There is a difference between being a follower of Jesus and a disciple of Jesus. The crowds followed Jesus because he handed out free food and healed them. He was their rock star, until he was arrested and their lives were at stake. Then they turned on him and shouted “Crucify him.” Crowds are fickle.
A disciple is a learner. A disciple is an apprentice who is dedicated to learning the ways of the master and carrying on the master’s work when the master is gone. It takes intentionality to be a dedicated disciple. The Missional leader is called to model discipleship and invite people into Jesus’ invitation to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow.”
equipped – the missional leader is called to train disciples. Missional Spiritual Formation is a training center. It is a space and process in which people are offered safe spaces and clear pathways to learn the ways of Jesus.
discernment – The goal of training is not the imputation of doctrinal statements or the rote memorization of liturgy. The goal is discernment. God is active in the world, speaking in a still small voice. It takes discipline and training to detect God’s movement and voice, especially in a world full of such frenetic noise. A key part of this training is the deep study of Scripture. The Hebrew Bible and Christian Documents offer a case study in how real people encountered a real God in real places and tried to make sense out of the encounter within their own context. The Scriptures give us our only access to the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, who modeled for us embodied discipleship. The deep study of scripture—both its content, and the process of meditating upon it—equip the disciple to feel the rhythm of God, thus enabling the disciple to recognize the rhythm in the present moment (read more).
empowered – God’s mission invites everyone to participate. Every disciple has been given a unique set of gifts, passions, and skills to participate in this world, to bring it into alignment with the rhythm of God’s Kingdom. The missional leader is called, not to command and control the church, but to ignite a holy imagination in all disciples and create opportunity for each disciple to fully realize her/his own calling in God’s Mission.
This is what I want to help our church understand and embody.
That’s all for now.
Peace on your journey.