October 18, 2017

The Sky Is Falling: Alan Roxburgh’s Vision of Missional Leadership

skyfall1.jpgBill Kinnon is a faithful IM reader who does a lot of visual media projects. He’s brought to my attention his video for Alan Roxburgh’s new book, The Sky is Falling. I am familar with Roxburgh from other books and many web sites. He’s an academic with the ability to say some very practical, helpful things about vision. Here are some great quotes from Roxburgh. (The first one is particularly fine):

We need a movement of God’s people into neighborhoods, to live out and be the new future of Christ. It must be a movement that demonstrates how the people of God have a vision and the power to transform our world. This is not the same as current attempts to grow bigger and bigger churches that act like vacuum cleaners, sucking people out of their neighborhoods into a sort of Christian supermarket. Our culture does not need any more churches run like corporations; it needs local communities empowered by the gospel vision of a transforming Christ who addresses the needs of the context and changes the polis into a place of hope and wholeness. The corporation churches we are cloning across the land cannot birth this transformational vision, because they have no investment in context or place; they are centers of expressive individualism with a truncated gospel of personal salvation and little else.

A missional church is a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ…Missional leadership is about creating and environment within which the people of God in a particular location may thrive.

Today, we give up on congregations that we declare are out of touch with the culture. We run to big, successful places with marquee-name leaders to find out how to be successful. In so doing we are going in exactly the opposite direction from everything we see in the Biblical narratives. We have forgotten that God’s future often emerges in the most inauspicious places. If we let our imagination be informed by this realization, it will be obvious that we need to lead in ways that are different from those of a CEO, an entrepreneur, a super leader with a wonderful plan for the congregation’s life. Instead we need leaders with the capacity to cultivate an environment that releases the missional imagination of the people of God. (w/ Fred Romanuk)

Welcoming the stranger is a revolutionary activity in the formation of a parallel culture. The Bible speaks of a day when there will no longer be strangers. The imagery of the consumation of God’s salvation is of a great banquet where all who were “not my people” (1 Peter) are invited to the table of life. Jesus’ disciples are urged to invite the strangers to the banquet. What is disarming about these images is the absence of agendas to make people into something. The stranger is invited to experience the hospitality of God. Hospitality is the practice of the eschatological future by welcoming the stranger to our table as honored guests. It invites us to turn our attention from ourselves, to stop our busy, demanding routines and focus attention on the stranger for the sake of the stranger. In this sense hospitality is also confronting our captivities and addressing our own need for conversion. It begins our own conversion to the gospel of the kingdom. It is a radically transformative way of life especially among many of our consumerist, suburban congregations. The truth about God’s parallel “civitas”, the exodus community, is experienced in the practice of hospitality.

Here is the first half of a detailed two-part review. If you are an IM reader, you will have no problem guessing why I’m posting this recommendation. Spread the word.