I confess that I'm really not interested in hearing theories anymore. I want to know how the missonal profundities emanating from the particular guru are applied in their own lives - right now. Not last year, last century or last millenium. But. Right now.
"Where are you plugged into a local expression of a missional community? How does that impact what you are sharing with us?"
Jesus lived what he taught the disciples. We should have no less expectation of those who want to disciple us.
On a similar note, just as I'd weaned myself off of my addiction to Mark Driscoll he apparently goes and says something really good and provocative:
And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations — I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.
A few folks are bristling at those remarks, and I admit I don't have the context for them, but I think he may be on to something. In fact, I read David Fitch's good and helpful rebuttal and don't find it much of a rebuttal at all, but a clarification that is nicely compatible with what Mark appears to be saying.
Mark Driscoll is saying: "Lots of people, frequently the most vocal people, are all talk."
I read David Fitch saying: "Yes, but . . ."
That's how I'm reading them, anyway, and I think they're both right.
Lots of folks in the missional conversation (whatever that is) are just conversing. But many of them are not.
One of the great resonances for me in the missional approach to Christian community is the acknowledgment that the work is an investment, that it trusts the Spirit's role in bearing fruit though the hard work of patient but diligent discipleship.
Go and read Fitch's five points in the post linked above. It's good and helpful stuff, and it is addressing what he calls "the modernist desire to measure success" in specific, honest ways.
I will say that I think the issue that Driscoll raises is a valid one, that the question Bill Kinnon is asking is a necessary one. "We hear what you're saying, Missional People. What are you doing?"
Fitch's proposed stats ("5-10 years to nourish a missional community into a true functioning existence," for instance) are sobering. But then, another one of the resonances of the missional approach for me at least is that it bids me give up the tyranny of "results" and simply respond to God's call to be faithful -- faithful as a disciple and faithful as a pastor.
It's our job to be faithful and the Spirit's job to be fruitful.
Here's my encouragement to anybody tracking with this:
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says "Love never fails." I don't believe this means that if you love someone you will always succeed in getting what you want from them or in changing them for the better (or whatever). I believe it means that simply loving them (selflessly and sacrificially, as the passage outlines) is a success in and of itself. Love is never a waste, never a failure.
Similarly, if you are obeying God's call upon your life, if you are leading your church or ministry into a fulfillment of Scripture's parameters for it, that in itself is success. If you are proclaiming Christ in word and deed, if you are serving and submitting, you are succeeding.