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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

SACRED COMMUNITY GROUNDED IN SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

The following article by President David Schaal originally appeared on the Community of Christ Evangelist's blog, March 1, 2012. It is re-posted here with the generous permission of the author.





In recent years I’ve been paying attention to congregations that are engaged in outreach and invitation in a “sustained” way. “Sustained”, in this sense, refers to efforts that are perpetuated with energy and joy, rather than other efforts that seem to just wear themselves out after a year or so.

One of the common characteristics of congregations that sustain mission, appears to be that their engagement in mission is not motivated by some program emphasis that someone tried to import or muscle along. Instead, their engagement in mission grew out of sustained spiritual practice that ultimately birthed a stirring of the Spirit in someone’s soul who was willing to make themselves available as God nudged them into the community.

I’ve spent years of my life trying to motivate congregations into mission, and have watched as good people experienced success for a while, then either burned out or simply “let it go” after I was no longer there to support them. I’ve decided now that my time would have been much better spent if I had helped them learn how to build sacred community grounded in spiritual practice, with an eye on discerning God’s missional call.

In some ways, what I had been doing was a form of unintentional idolatry. Idolatry is taking anything and putting in the place where God rightfully belongs. In my case, I was exercising my own attempts at missional motivation, in places where I should have helped create space for God’s Spirit to breath. I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t even know I was doing that. It’s just that promoting programs and trying to motivate people into them was the only model I knew—and it was all for good purposes. Nevertheless, there is a HUGE difference between people “agreeing” to engage in programs, as opposed to people responding faithfully to a mission born of the Spirit’s promptings.

I now think that congregations are best served if we can hold up missional vision, then help create environments wherein the Spirit can move, rather than simply pressing people to implement the latest resource or hottest idea. I’m not suggesting for a moment that programs are undesirable, or that we should simply wait around for God to direct us before we launch out in mission.

I’m simply suggesting that congregational mission is not just about pushing programs that we hope will work. Instead, congregational mission is about building a community of disciples who are grounded in spiritual practice, attempting to discern what God is doing in their community, and how they might be called to join God in those efforts.

Evangelists can be invaluable in this regard, as they help congregational leaders create sacred community wherein people are loved, disciples are grown, and efforts are made to discern how God is calling us.

by David D. Schaal, First Presidency
Community of Christ

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