Table in Sky
Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                           March 10, 2008
In This Issue
Redefining "Mission"
My Reflections
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Last week I suggested there may be an appropriate time to leave a believing community of faith. When is that time? When mission requires it.
One of the most notable aspects of the organic church is its sense of mission. Preprogrammed into its DNA so-to-speak is its capacity for two things: (1) reaching out: that is, to be missional and (2) letting go: that is, disciples are expected to mature and start new communities of faith.
In this week's book excerpt, Dieter Zander explains how this works.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Mission and biology, not consumerism, alerts us to leave one community and move on to the next.
Redefining "Mission" 
Excerpted from Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger
Dieter Zander labored in two high-profile ministries where the emphasis was "come to us." Having struggled under these high-pressure, quantifiable, results-oriented approaches to ministry, Zander underwent a radical change of emphasis when he moved to San Francisco. On arriving in the city, he and his group prayed for others in their neighborhoods, but they had no desire for these neighbors to come to their group or meeting. Zander's community was completely outward focused. Zander and company seek to be "out there," leaning into their neighborhoods.
Zander used an expandable rubber band and a ring to compare traditional and missional models of mission. The traditional model works like a rubber band encircling the perimeter. Such Christians look to attract more people, and when they do, they "stuff" them into the middle of the rubber band. As more come, the rubber band stretches. The goal is to get the rubber band to stretch as far as possible. Zander's ring model works much differently. Zander envisions a ring that maybe ten to twenty people can hold around the perimeter. With one hand, they hold on to the ring, and with the other hand, they reach out as far as they can, each one holding another ring for yet another to hold on to. Because of the inner ring, they are able to reach out farther than they could without a ring for support. The inner ring is a supportive accountability group, which asks each person if he or she has been good news (served in the kingdom) that week. The goal is not to bring new people into the small group but to add groups for those who respond to the kingdom. Each new believer joins the contact person's outer ring, which in turn becomes the new believer's inner ring (2005:51).
My Reflections
I have two boys, ten and eight, and I love being with them. For the past 10 years I have counted it a privilege to feed and clothe them, to help them learn about life, and all the other things that go along with being a father.
But someday it will be time for them to leave. Staying with me forever, although they're always welcome, isn't God's design. One day, they'll find wives and move on - with my blessing. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen 2:24).
I believe the same to be true of discipleship. As a spiritual father, I am happy to bring others to maturity in the faith (as far as it depends on me). And as those God has entrusted to my care mature, if I've done my job right, they will inevitably move on. Again, with my blessing.
It's important to note that in both of the above scenarios leaving is completely natural. In fact, it's expected. Staying, on the other hand, is not natural. Both the family unit and the "church unit" aren't meant to operate in a perpetual growth pattern: no, both are meant to multiply.
At the same time, relational ties are never cut, they just mature. I will continue to enjoy my boys for years to come even after they leave the nest - at Christmastime, on birthdays, and so on. The same is true for my "spiritual" children; I will always love them, too - them and their grandchildren!
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table