Despite traffic difficulties that prevented a few of our panelists from being there, we had a great time the other night with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole, and Alan Hirsch out at up/rooted.west. Spencer kicked off the night talking about question of whether "missional" has been shrink-wrapped too. Has it become a product, a system, a hip label, a means for church planters and others to earn a paycheck, etc.?
Of course, this led into a whole mess of other questions, mostly relating to the dangers of institutionalized Christianity. Here's just a sample that came both from the presenters and from the audience:
- Does a desire to earn a paycheck get in the way of actually being missional?
- Is it bad for publishers to try and make money off a new term like "missional"? What are the alternatives?
- What happens when Sunday morning is no longer sacred in society, when it's just another day of commerce? Will that change how we do church?
- Why do we assume that one pastor can meet every need in a church, and even teach to every person (despite age, intelligence, etc.) on every necessary topic (e.g. relationships, money, spiritual growth, doctrine, etc.)? Can we imagine other, less top-down models?
- Are pastors in imminent danger of being downsized because of the realities of our post-christian culture?
- (From Rebecca in the audience): Is our concern over this question of missional being shrink-wrapped because we like to think of ourselves as "different", "rebellious", and "alternative"? Are we afraid of our ideas becoming popular and accepted? Is that why we keep inventing new concepts and terminology whenever an old one gets "shrink-wrapped"?
- How do we keep this missional movement from calcifying and becoming dogmatic? How do we continue to grow, change, "emerge", etc.?
Of course, many other things were talked about in and around these issues. True to form, Spencer was an excellent provocateur, giving us much to chew on and not being afraid of making us a little uncomfortable. Neil and Alan were fantastic as well.
Anyhow, if you missed it we'll have a link to the video webcast shortly. Check back here later.
P.S. We have some exciting news about our next up/rooted gathering. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Helen has a good review of the event at the Conversation at the Edge blog too.