Friday, March 09, 2007

Missional Church 4 -- K.I.S.S.

No, this post is not about the rock band KISS (although 'tis true I was a KISS fan in the 70's).

To be Missional things need to be simple -- e.g., Keep It Simple Stupid. Why? Well, not primarily because people are burned out with being busy with church stuff. The reason to keep things simple is so the Kingdom can expand. Structures and practices that are easily learned, imitated and implemented create the possibility of transformation and expansion.

St. Paul must have been able to quickly pass on the basics of Christian living. Why else could he establish a worshipping community and then in some cases be gone in a matter of months?

This idea is illustrated in the new book by by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom entitled The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. A starfish can lose a limb and grow a new limb and the detached limb will become a new starfish. Remove a spider leg and you have an 8 legged spider. Remove a spider's head and you have a dead spider. The reason a starfish can do what it does is because everything needed for its life is found in each cell or subunit. It can easily reproduce. It can easily survive threats. It can easily expand.

One implication of this is that simple practices need to be passed on built into each disciple. Missional movements expand and transform because this is one of the realities that characterizes them.


+ simonas said...

Sing with me: A-men, a-men, a-men, a-men.

I've been thinking the same thing. Now, question though: what do we do with the inspiring liturgy that I love? Can it be simplified to the extent that it will remain beautiful and inspiring? But then again, folks that talk about being missional don't often talk about liturgy, do they?

James Gibson said...

Prayer Book guru Peter Toon has some thoughts on mission and liturgy in his little treatise, "The Anglican Formularies and Holy Scripture" (pp. 35-36):

Now "mission" as used in sacred Tradition, solidly based upon the Bible, is a very large concept. Theologians and Bishops of the Church have spoken of the Missio Dei. By this phrase they mean the Mission which begins within the inner life of the Blessed Trinity and leads to and involves the Mission of the Son, descending from glory to this earth, becoming Incarnate by taking our human nature and making it his own, and his work of revelation, salvation and redemption in this world. Into this massive and glorious mission the Church is called as a "co-worker together with God" as it is indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit; but it is always first and foremost the Mission of the Holy Trinity by whom the elect are being saved, sanctified and glorified and also by whom the whole cosmos is to be transfigured and regenerated.

In this theological and broad Biblical sense--and not in the restrictive "missional" sense of current times--the whole Liturgy both proclaims and serves the Missio Dei! In fact, the biblical presentation of the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, echoed in the Prayer Book, is that of one great mission by the Son of descent and ascent, of revelation and illumination, of salvationa and redemption, of sanctification and deification, of glory and doxology.

As for the simplicity thing, I am in total agreement. We need not rush to create complicated structures and systems which have the inevitable effect of quenching the fire of the Holy Spirit moving among us.

Adam Gonnerman said...

The otherwise very conservative American missionaries that planted the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in and around Belem, Brazil used a very interesting strategy that to my eyes looks quite missional. It is a method of evangelism that members learn and use. The leadership structure is also fairly open as well. They began implementing this model around 40 years ago. I plan to blog on it sometime soon.

Peter said...

Neil Cole's book Organic Church hits on the K.I.S.S. principle in missional ministry.

Peter said...

James -- right on with the Toon quote. I believe the Liturgy is not something that cultivates mission, it is a missional act in and of itself. The liturgy instantiates the Kingdom of God. It is an epiphany of the throne room of King Jesus.

Peter said...

Adam -- I would like to hear more about the folks in Brazil.

Peter said...

Simonas -- you raise a good question. One thing I wonder. Perhaps it is good to hang on to the ancient and tried forms of the liturgy. Not because those forms are sancrosanct in themselves. But because we moderns -- especially us Americans -- so quickly try the new and the innovative and have no patience to learn deeply the rhythms and patterns of the ancient ways. Maybe we should commit to a decade of being formed by the ancient patterns before we seek to innovate?

+ simonas said...

Peter, I'm with you. I love liturgy. However, I cannot say it is simple. Now, I'm a fan of Robert Webber. He says it's that very same liturgy that is supposed to attract the unbeliever/seeker to the community of faith. So, how are we supposed to be missional/simple and complex/beautiful/missional at the same time?

+ simonas said...

Sorry, I realize I basically restated the same point. No response necessary.