Witness Beyond the Familiar (Part 2)

In last month’s article, I highlighted that the church today must diversify in order to be relevant in our current landscape, that is, a mixed ecology.  Here in Northern Virginia, we are blessed to have numerous examples of this mixed ecology; however, this begs the basic question, “Are you up for being a leader in the church today?”  In my just-completed work life as an instructor at Defense Acquisition University, we have these Job Support Tools to help learners in their critical thinking by guiding them through a series of questions, and hopefully, to better address their particular situation.  So, let me offer the following questions … and call it a Ministry Support Tool.

  • Where do you currently see your church in the ecosystem?  What are the challenges you are facing as you consider your current place?  We are often too quick to place some sort of value on one type of organization over another.  Remember that diversity of organisms is essential for a healthy ecosystem.
  • What is the role God is calling you to play in helping to create a healthy ecosystem between community and church?  How many times have you heard the phrase, “Our church is too (fill in the blank) to make that work”?  The church plays a vital role in a diverse ecosystem, and has to engage the community in a continual manner.
  • What resistance is getting in the way of new ideas for engaging your neighbors (Samaria is now in our backyard!)?  Instead of assuming we are in unchartered territory as the church reaches out; remember that those who reside in that environment are not actually in unchartered territory, they are home.  Who better to guide us in this new landscape and how do we value these voices?
  • What new leaders and organizations need to be introduced in order to create a more diverse ecology of the church’s witness in your context?  Current church systems are structured to support the traditional church model, the status quo; so what new ways, processes and resources are needed to address this new ecosystem?
  • What is standing in the way of innovation in your current system/church?  Despite the constraints of the institutional church, the people of God are uniquely poised to offer meaning, purpose, grace, mercy, justice, love, hope, and joy to those in search of these things. 

God has called us to be witnesses not just among the familiar but also in the places that take us out of our comfort zone – to Samaria and the ends of the earth.  It’s true there is a gap between where God is calling us to be and where we find ourselves today, and the church of today is called to that gap. 

Blessings,

John Meeuwissen, Lay Leader

Above based on an excellent article from the Texas Methodist Foundation, titled “God’s Mixed Ecology: The Changing Spiritual Landscape.”