50 leaders from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia
were invited to Pasadena, CA for a three day gathering around the
theme, "Developing leaders for the missional church." I was one of
those invited and I was excited to with the topic. I am searching for
a way to help people move beyond the perspective and practice of church
as a place to go attend, to church as people learning to join God in
his mission in the world. That, at least, is my understanding of what
is meant by missional.
I quickly discovered that my definition was one of many definitions of
the word missional, and that my idea of how we should approach this
topic was not the approach everyone else thought we should take. I,
who often speaks about the value of diversity, found myself in a
somewhat more diverse setting, and frustrated that everyone didn't see
things the way I saw them or didn't want to do things the way I thought
they should be done. In fact, at one point, because of my continued
prodding toward productivity, I was even accused of being a "Boomer."
No, we were not productive ... at least in the way I wanted us to be
productive - to produce something ... a paper, a statement of values,
a strategy. But in reflecting on those three days I've realized that
something valuable was produced ... in me. I heard many different
perspectives and stories. I heard about questions and struggles my
fellow brothers and sisters in the ministry were experiencing. In
other words, I experienced my place in the body of Christ. I
experienced being "appropriately small, yet essential." As the apostle
Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 12:21, "The eye (of a body) cannot say, 'I don't
need you!' And the head cannot saw to the feet, 'I don't need you!'"
I like to hang out with people who are like me, who think like me, and
act like me. We seem to be productive. And yet our productivity is
limited by our lack of diversity. It's like cooking with only one
spice. Can you imagine only cooking with salt or pepper or cumin? We
may not have produced anything tangible, but something intangible
happened as we found ourselves experiencing the body of Christ and
trusting the Head, Jesus, to produce whatever He wants to produce.