Times, they are a changing...

A lot of people have gotten credit for the saying,

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."

It used to be in many cases, doing what you've always done got someone a whole lot! At the Crossroads in North Paulding sits Grogan's Grocery. When Grogan's was the only place in North Paulding to buy groceries, they just did what they'd always done. Today, Kroger's is on the opposite corner and Grogan's is just a landmark.

That could be the state of any church and any business. As we move further into the 21st century and the future continues to move at us faster, we might ought to say it this way:
"If you are doing what you've always done, you may not get anything at all."

I've been reading Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. As a church planter, I've read through some of Stetzer's work before and David and I have had a few conversations. While we're not on the same page for everything, for those unfamiliar with the idea of the "missional church," I recommend this book without a doubt.

In chapter 12 which deals with Partnerships and Networks, Stetzer and Putnam ask a great question:
"What is the role of the denomination in the missional church movement?"

That is, I think, a multi-million dollar question and it is so precisely because of the amount of money being spent to uphold bureaucracies when there is a crying need for the Kingdom of God to expand. So without venturing too far down any rabbit trails, any and all of us connected to institutions, denominations, corporations and head offices, would do well to reflect on a few points Stetzer and Putnam bring up but asked in my own words.

1. What is the litmus test for who a worthy partner is?
Is it ideology, practicality, theology or missiology?

2. Can they stay off of headlines for things that don't matter?
It is like election years, do the head of the "parties" hurt or help?

3. Do they actually build meaningful bridges with others?
Are they moving beyond their circle of comfort and finding new effective partners?

4. Are they adding value to the mission?
Does what happen on the top floor make meaning on the ground floor?

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and we believe that is done in the local church (if you weren't aware of this you can check out a Book of Discipline but you might prefer taking me at my word). I think the UMC is uniquely organized, equipped and poised to do the missional work which John Wesley envisioned over 200 years ago and that Jesus Christ launched over 2,000 and that God has been doing since the Fall: inviting disconnected people to get connected to God.

My wife jokes about a saying I have that I never realized I said. Apparently, when things are beyond my control, I frequently say, "It is what it is." And it is but to that phrase let me add "...it ain't yet what it can be." My thanks to God that indeed, times, they are a changing...

May I Ask: What happened the last time you went "against the flow?" How did it change you? How about those around you?

May I Suggest: Look at your Circle of Influence, those people or events you are really connected with and do something!


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