I have been experimenting lately with the notion that if the church is the existentially missional gathering, discipling, and sending of Jesus-followers into all the world, and if the biblical idea of Kingdom community/fellowship is communitas, then it carries with it an intense "we-ness" as I wrote in my April 3rd blog post: http://oldmenplantingchurches.blogspot.com/2012/04/being-we.html This relational paradigm implies the unfamiliar idea that if we're embodying Kingdom communitas together, I am with you as you go about being missional in your spheres of Kingdom influence, and vice-versa. As I wrote: "I have your back and you have mine." We're doing this together, it's just that you're taking the lead in that part of our joint mission. We are sharing the work rather than you live your life with Jesus and I live mine -- alone together.
I've begun to broach this notion that Jesus has gathered us together around a particular Kingdom mission; we are members of the same cause and team. Each of us plays an integral role, and though we might be apart much of the time, we're actually contributing to what each of us is doing to further the Kingdom on our watch -- I'm with you and you're with me; it matters to us all what each is doing and we know about it. It takes a minute for folks to wrap their heads around the idea, because it is so unfamiliar, or seems to be a platitude with little reality
As I mentioned in the Being The We blog as well, most of us live our Christian lives as discreet individuals who go to church together, attend all sorts of Christian gatherings, and communal activities, including fellowship groups and short-term missions trips, but the idea that we've been called to intense and intimate Kingdom missional teamwork is sadly foreign. We don't know how to and are not even sure its possible or desirable.
Recently, I told a young Intervarsity Staff Worker who is also an imagineurian that what she does on campus in furthering the Kingdom of Christ is what imagine/Northampton is doing with and through her. She's got the lead there, but we're with her, and not just symbolically. We want to help her "pull out the stops" and realize all God wants to do on her watch. She's a part us and we're a part of her. She carries our united hearts, and we hers. It's the relational DNA of missional church.
She's one example of how imagine as a communitas of missional Christ-followers is called to own what each of us is doing on our jobs, in our neighborhoods, with our non-Christian friends and colleagues. Wherever one of us goes during the week, we are all there.
Life together in this way assumes a much more missionally intimate and dynamic way of relating than what passes for community in most churches. Our shared mission defines and deepens our relating. Togetherness is not just about friendships and mutual support, as fulfilling as that can be. The deepest spiritual meaning we can experience after grasping the Magnificent God of the entire Creation just happens to be deeply fond of you and me, is found in the wild notion he's gone and summoned each of us to further his Kingdom on our watch. I go. You go. We all go together even when apart.
So how about begin experimenting with this missional relating by asking folks you spend time with two questions:
1. How can I pray for the Kingdom mission God has given you?
2. What do you need from me today, this week, etc.?
Unless the folks you hang around are hip to what you're actually assuming in these two questions, you may have to explain the concept of communitas to them. What a great opportunity either way!
May God ignite Kingdom communitas and mission through your questions and example.
In Part 2, I'll explain the spiritual and relational dynamic necessary for transforming normal Christian fellowship.