We now come to the end of Alan Hirsch, Forgotten Missional Ways, which book has continued to grow on me as a must-read for missional Christians. What happens when a growing, thriving, missional church gets captured by middle-class culture: it combines safety and security with comfort and convenience. Somehow it moves from a missional church into an institutional church. There’s more:
Hirsch’s own church went through this: they continued to grow, but it was through transfers and not as a result of missional work like conversions. They moved from a “me for the community and the community for the world” to a “the community for me.”
Capturing a community into a vision, as I read this chp, is the secret to the whole. How does this happen? What happens to traditional ministries when the missional Christians discover their missional orientation? It’s easy for us to have “mission” statements. It’s hard to get churches and Christian communities/gatherings into the “missional mode.” How does that happen? Overall, what do you think of the six features of missional DNA (mDNA) or (to use his other expression) apostolic genius. (The six are: Jesus-centered, discipleship, missional/incarnational impulse, apostolic environment for creating leaders, organic systems, and communitas instead of simple safe, secure community.)
Communitas, the 6th feature of the missional church, describes what happens when individuals are drawn together through a common ordeal, experience, or mission. Communitas occurs during liminality — during a period of changing paradigms.
Communitas occurred during 9/11, during the tsunami, and during Katrina. People forged together to restore life and in doing they formed communitas to make it happen.
The danger to communitas is equilibrium. What we want is chaos — what we want is for the church to be challenged so that excitation occurs and this generates creativity and response to the conditions. This leads to self-organization and a life lived into the future (or shaped by that future).