I’ve been reading Mike Breen’s Leading Kingdom Movements.  Breen compares the four steps emergency workers follow when determining the priorities in a disaster or emergency with our role as the church in helping triage the broken world around us.

According to Breen, emergency workers generally follow these four steps:

Step 1: They demonstrate compassion for the victims of the tragedy and get them the care they need as quickly as possible.  They help them survive.

Step 2: Once the immediate emergency is over or as soon as possible, they re-connect people to or in a community.  They get them into tent communities.

Step 3:  They connect people to a bigger story.  In conversation, they help the traumatized to wrestle with and process their loss in terms of a story that is rooted, not in loss, but in redemption and recovery.  In trauma, the plot-line is lost.  A meta-narrative or grand story—which by definition flows diachronically, across time—counters the cyclical hopeless whirlpool of their lost story and time.

Step 4:  In partnership with the victims, they help discover or provide a compass for re-creating life.  They work with the recovering populations to help set of firm, stable set steps pointing toward restoration–a restoration that rests on compassion, community and a hope-filled future story.

Breen argues that we follow these same steps in becoming a rescue team for our broken world.  Faced with the brokenness of the world around us, we resist the temptation to pull-away, to become self-interested and self-centered.  In the face of cultural emergencies, we can easily allow fear to drive us, to become victims ourselves, or to pull away into our perceived safe little world.  But the gospel should drive us in the opposite direction–we run like Jesus did toward the disaster.  We become provoked to engage, to be rescuers.  When we do so, we follow the same steps.

Step 1:  We demonstrate compassion. Our first response to a world broken by sin and death is compassion.  Before we survey the destruction, embrace the reality of things, or assign priorities for rescue and recover, we feel in our very guts the depth of the hurt we’re seeing.  We see the crowds and seek to experience a compassion for them.  We become like Jesus whose heart (his very gut) was broken at the sight of those overwhelmed by every disease and affliction and lacking any sense of the good Kingdom story (Matthew (9:35-36).  This compassion will drive us to some initial caring actions, that give life, provide rescue and point toward recovery.

Step 2:  We re-connect people to community.  We build communities where the broken can feel safe and secure.  We lead people into a caring, nurturing community.  The brokenness of sin and rebellion by definition breaks the relational connections we were created to enjoy and need to survive.  We start restoring those relational disconnections–our broken relationship to God, to self, to others, and to creation.  Since our compassion is driving us, we can focus on restoring these relational connections in sensitive ways.  Depending on the situation, creating a sense of community belonging might necessarily create the foundation for restoring relationships to God, self, and creation itself.   Belonging often proceeds blessing and believing.

Step 3:  We connect people to the larger story.  In brokenness, we lose our sense of story–losing all sense of place and our ability to function meaningfully.  Our identity becomes defined falsely by the tragedy of our sin and brokenness.  We enter a world where it seems like there is no escape, where “what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl 1:9) That where the connecting story enters in–the story that is the story of the world.  The four-fold Scriptural meta-narrative of “creation, fall, redemption and restoration” breaks the cycle of “what will be will always be.” God has a purpose, a plan, a plot-line leading to the renewal of all things under Jesus as King.  His story governs the world.  So, as we reconnect people to community, we tell this larger story and encourage others to see their story enveloped by his story. 

Step 4:  We give people a compass, that regardless of circumstances always points north.  A compass counsels direction and with it the encouragement to move in that direction.  Jesus is, of course, our compass—the true north that orients us in our newly embraced larger story.  As disciples, Breen argues, we are however compass carriers, helping others follow the compass by discipling others to follow Jesus, teaching them to obey all that he’s commanded.  For Breen, this process of discipleship revolves around answering two questions:

What is God saying?

What am I going to do about”?

In addition these fundamental questions are asked in the context of a Kingdom movement built around three directions: passionate spirituality (up), radical community (in) and missionary zeal (out).

________________________

How are you triaging your broken world?

In your movement, is there compassion, community, a connecting story and a Jesus-modeled set of compass directions where everyone is asking “what is God saying” and “what am I going to do about it”?

Is there an “up, in and out” balance to your movement?

 

Source: Leading Kingdom Movements by Mike Breen.  See also Jo Saxton’s questions on being at rescue team at http://www.timschraeder.com/2010/04/29/being-provoked-to-change-jo-saxton/

Just returned from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit and was struck again by the power of personal and leadership development. Bill Hybels mentioned several times the truths that leadership matters and that:

“Everyone wins when a leader gets better.”

This is certainly true on the physical battlefield. But it is equally true in every endeavor. As a leader gets better, everything and everyone benefits.

Over the last 15 years, Laurie and I have seen it over and over again at Gettysburg. Get leaders to invest in their own development and in the development of the leaders they lead and good things happen. Because we believe that, we’re committed to continue offering a unique learning experience at our “If Properly Led” conferences. We hope you’ll consider joining us or investing in the development of those you lead by sending them to join us Oct 3-7, 2012 in Gettysburg.  See info here.

Here’s one recent review:

Over more than 40 years of ministry, I’ve had opportunity to attend many professional leadership conferences. NONE was as valuable as your “If Properly Led” conference. I love history and was exceptionally charged to have my sons with me, but way beyond that was the pure value, intensity and transferable nature of everything we did together. You have crafted a truly great experience. Never quit.

– Stu Weber, Pastor and Author of Tender Warrior, Infinite Impact and others

Walter Brueggemann, Professor of Old Testament, argues that the tension between “evangelism” and “social action” grows out of a deep misunderstanding.

To posit tension between evangelism and social action amounts to a deep distortion of both and is in the end a phony issue. Or to put it more positively, serious, responsible faith attends to both serious evangelism and intentional social action.

Brueggemann suggests we must go past the distorting antithesis to discover that behind both mandates is the God of the Bible–decisively present in the story of Jesus–who is both:

  • –the principle subject of evangelism &
  • –the principle agent of social action.

When we say that **the God of the Bible is the subject of evangelism,** it means that every aspect and dimension of our lives is being brought under the rule and intention of that God. The message of the gospel deabsolutizes every other claim of authority and invites us to situate our lives in the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, his burial, resurrection and ascension.

Similarly, when we say that **the God of the Bible is the decisive agent of social action**, it means that social action has an ideological quality. As Brueggemann writes:

The message of the gospel is the sustained affirmation of the Bible that the creator of heaven and earth is at work to mend and redeem and repair and rehabilitate the world so that it may become the good creation . . . the new creation . . . that God has always and everywhere intended.

 Brueggemann argues that all our zeal is fundamentally “penultimate.”

In other words, we avoid the distorting antithesis between evangelism and social action when we become intimately aware and purposefully acknowledge that God is indeed effectively at work in Jesus on behalf of the well-being of the world. That God is doing the work of bringing the entire world under his good rule. And morever, that God will not quit until it is finished. As John the Apostle said, the lips are laid to the trumpet and the voices are starting to sing:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. (Rev 11:15)

In his argument, Brueggemann believes that evangelism taken by itself and social action by itself both need to be regospeled, reinvited into the news that the action stays God’s not ours. If this is so, our action stays bouyant, propelled not by success but by faithfulness.

  • Evangelism taken by itself becomes self-indulgent narcissism that imagines our embrace of the gospel to be an end in itself rather than enlistment into an alternative world. Evangelism is thus trivialized away from God.
  • Social action by itself becomes hard-nosed ideology that is authoritarian and graceless. Social action is thus undertaken in Promethean autonomy.

But together, Brueggemann argues that radical social action is a public articulation of our identity in Christ.

Social action indwells the evangelist because the God who promises the news of the gospel is the God at work transforming the world, inviting all adherents of the gospel to share in the tranformational work.

When we enter the larger story of God’s intent to redeem and restore all creation, we enter a story in which we are inescapably engaged in the work of mending the world “that is God’s own work.”
1. We are engaged by prayer, whereby we pray daily that God’s way of governance shall be fully established on earth as it already is in heaven so that there will be no more violence, poverty, homelessness, nor any other injustice.
2. We are engaged in hope, whereby each day we expect God’s decisive action, fully confident that things need not stay the way they are and will not stay the way they are, simply because God is God.
3. As in prayer and hope, we are engaged in God’s transformative work in the world by our actions–when we make our intentional, bodily investments in the narrative of God that we have, in Christ, come to accept as the true story of our lives. We invest our bodies in this way, not because it is exceptional or because it is heroic or because it is expecially more or virtuous, but because it is the natural and unexceptional living out of who we are in our relished identity as members of the narrative of God.

Brueggemann closes his chapter with the account of a transcendent moment in Martin Luther King’s life where at his kitchen table he was claimed and redefined by the belief that “the essence of religion was not a grand metaphysical idea but something personal, grounded in experience.” It was that moment that provided the power for the movement.

Brueggemann asks us to imagine if King had so prized the gospel that he stayed forever in the kitchen: no movement! Or to imagine if King has so prized the movement that he had not paused long enough in vulnerability to be reshaped and empowered that day in the kitchen: no durable courage or freedom! It is not an either/or. It is both/and….the deep claiming of good news and the insistent dangerous public obedience.

Source

I’ve been reading Walter Brueggemann’s Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope. I love the way he looks at the “thickness of the text.” He argues that the preachers and teachers of the gospel are to “invite, empower and equip the community to reimagine the world as though Jesus was the key player.” Our role as Christ-followers is to “utter a sub-version of reality, an alternative version of reality that says another way of life in the world is not only possible but is peculiarly mandated and peculiarly valid.”

As we proclaim the king and kingdom, we challenge the dominant version of social reality which (for example) thinks:
* bread must be guarded, and not shared
* that it is each against all, with no ground for community
* silence can authenticate the status quo.

The preacher/teacher/leader of a reimagined vision of an alternative reality where:
–the community offers break even amidst their own material deprivations
–the community affirms a covenantal solidarity amidst social dissociation
–the community legitimates speech where the rest of the world uses enforced silence to protect its privileges.

Jesus was such a leader who announces from the beginning that a new reality, a new governance is at hand. This new goverance–of Jesus as King–brings all of life–public and personal, human and nonhuman–into a regime of wholeness.
(and my favorite line from Bruggemann)

Jesus came with a mandate to do for the world what the Creator had intended from the outset.

Today is water day…and I want to be part of a water movement that brings clean water to every person on the globe.

Why?

Because it’s a compelling cause:

The water crisis is at the heart of a daily emergency faced by a billion of the world’s most vulnerable people–a crisis that threatens life and destroys livelihoods on a devastating scale. Unlike war and terrorism, the global water crisis does not make media headlines, despite the fact that it claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. Unlike natural disasters, it does not rally concerted international action, despite the fact that more people die each year from drinking dirty water than from the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes combined. This is a crisis that is holding back human progress, consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability, and insecurity. The church of Jesus Christ can see an end to this silent crisis experienced by the poor and tolerated by those with the resources, technology, and the political power to end it. – Chris Seay

Because it’s pursued by visionary communities:

Edmund Burke described visionary communities as “God’s little platoons”–little concerts of benevolence committed to the pursuit of something great. Even if my daughter and daughter-in-law weren’t among the following “companies of friends,” I would want to join these water movements. Both strike at the very heart of the water crisis. Laurie and I are privileged to be part of these heavenly platoons–making significant contributions today to each. We’d love for you to join us.  Click on either image below to explore options.

 Because it challenges the status quo.

Movements like The Adventure Project and One Billion Thirsty refuse to accept reality–they embrace it, they acknowledge it, they even lament it–but they wont “accept” it. All movements kick back at the darkness. One Billion people in need of clean water?? Crazy. Wrong. But solvable.

All movements both “criticize” and “energize.” They never criticize alone; they also bring energy to bear–creating a new reality. Whether it’s investing in well-mechanics repairing broken wells in northern India or in new deep water wells in a repairing Sierra Leone, movements like these are taking action. Ideas are one thing, action is another.

Because nothing is easy.

All true revolutions take place in an evolutionary way. Movements that solve the water crisis require thousands of “tiny strategic” actions persevered over the long haul. Movements take time–a long time. Getting clean water to One Billion people won’t happen overnight. It won’t be easy. It will be hard. But who wants to be part of something easy? Not me. I want to do something that many think can’t be done.

And when it’s done–how fun will that be!

The tallskinnykiwi recently summarized the “Practices of a New Jesus movement” based on his visits to Asia and exposure there to the “dynamism and commitment of young Jesus followers.”  In one instance, he records that a network of Jesus followers started a 1000 new communities, many of them multiplying into the second and third generation. Most of these new communities didn’t start begin in any kind of “worship service” at all, but grew out of the following 11 practices.

As a staff member with an organization (CRU) committed to launching and building movements among faculty and students, I spent some time reflecting on how our “practices” match the practices of these replicating communities in Asia. Of course, my purview is limited and may be a long way off from your experience on campus.  To get his wisdom, I’ve included verbatim the reflections of the tallskinnykiwi (tsk) and then added a paragraph of personal reflections (jll).  I’d love to hear what you think, whether my reflections match current reality within CRU, or any other thots.

1. Simple and Regular Bible Study

The Bible studies were simple and regular. And there was a lengthy program of discovering Jesus in the gospels which took months to complete. Most who completed the study decided to follow Jesus by the end. Discipleship was based on an “obedience-based approach” to the Scriptures that happened around their 3 simple Bible study questions [see 4. Simple habits]. When the group meets again, everyone is held accountable to do what they said they were going to do and this way the Word becomes an integral part of life.–tsk

I wonder how many of our bible study or discipleship resources we have are rooted in the gospels.  It seems much of our material begins and ends in the epistles, with occasional excursions into the gospels.  I wonder if it might help us to find materials that “discover Jesus in the gospels” and advocated a simple obedience-based approach.  Do you know of any such resources?–jll

2. Open houses.

The people were hospitable to visitors who seemed to come at any time of the day or night. Their houses were full of young people living there while their lives were being transformed. I did not see any buildings used for worship or church functions. Bible studies and events took place in the houses, with young people sitting on carpets and mattresses, but I would not classify it as a house church movement, since there was no regular worship service to invite neighbours into.–tsk

I think we’ve often failed to emphasize the gift of hospitality, meeting faculty and students “on campus” rather than opening our homes and apartments to free flow of young and old.  Like the table fellowship of Jesus’ day, sitting around a common table in someone’s home or hanging out in their living room or front porch simply advances the impact of life on life.  What would look different if we opened the front door more?–jll

3. Fringe focus.

The primary influx was young people from the margins, the underbelly of society and those discarded by it, drug addicts, and postmodern sub-cultures rather than mainstream folk. I have seen this trend all over Asia including Japan. Most of the leaders I met had come from these backgrounds also.–tsk

In my own simple analysis of historical movements, it seems that “concern for the poor” was common to all of them.  As a movement committed to the gospel transforming the university, we’ve been wrestling with the weight of biblical mandates around God’s special concern for the marginalized.  We’ve been elites reaching elites–college grads going after faculty and students, keying in on premier athletes, working with senior military or community elites.  Certainly, elites need Jesus.  Nevertheless, I just wonder what would happen if we added more concern for the disadvantaged and marginalized in the communities surrounding the university campus or in the 2/3rds world.  Might we draw out better leaders from the campus when we plunge into the broken places?  Might we discover new leaders among the marginalized to lead the church forward? It’s happening around the world.  Besides, as Walt Disney once said, “it’s fun to do the impossible?”–jll

4. Simple habits.

Nothing took a lot of skill. Teaching Bible, sharing jesus, leading AA-type meetings, no need for a charismatic superstar to attract an audience and in fact, there wasn’t one. Anyone could lead after a short time of instruction. The Bible studies, for example, were based on the same pattern:

After reading a passage together, they all answered 3 questions:

a. What does it say?

b. What does it say to me?

c. What I’m going to do about it? – tsk

We’ve all had training in this simple obedience-based approach to the Scriptures. But I so want to show off my knowledge, my research into the passage, my clever take of “what it says” that I adopt a different approach when I lead.  I’m going to go back and just see.  Maybe a simple, replicable approach might better produce “disciple-makers”.  Maybe the KISS (Keep it simple, saint) principle will take me out of the center of the interaction and puts the text and my fellow-colearners more in the center.–jll

5. Good business products.

Financial sustainability came partly from their micro-businesses. The organic products from these businesses were among the best and healthiest in the country, even if they had not yet found a way to promote or distribute them widely. They had also innovated in the production process and believed God gave revelation that is helping them produce more and better goods and in a way that blesses the environment rather than taking from it.–tsk

It seems that these replicating communities arose within the “economics” of life.  New faith in God engendered a rediscovery of the imago dei and the co-creative role of individuals and communities before a living God.  We so often think of the gospel response affecting our relationship with God, but fail to see how the gospel restores other relationships as well. Jesus sees us as whole persons whose brokenness extends beyond our relationship with God.  Sin destroys our relationship to others, to creation, even to self (Genesis 3).  Movements that replicate embrace sin’s destructiveness in each of our relationships and seek to restore them thru the power of the indwelling Christ. Good business products, concern for the environment, the dignity of work, etc arise from the healing of the gospel.–jll

6. System for rehabilitation.

They had a dedicated building for rehabilitation of drug addicts and also used it for multi-faith gatherings where people from every background could meet each other and build friendships. It was also a space for urban ministry folk to retreat to for refreshment.-tsk

If the gospel has power, if new life in Christ is really new, then our movements must embrace the various long journeys to restoration and healing.  Since our movements often draw folks “mostly healed” already, we rarely see the dynamic of God’s work in bringing change to the visibly broken. In reality, each of those “mostly healed” folks, folks like me and you, actually have a long journey to Christlikeness.  It’s just that our “outward health” allows us to hide the inward brokenness.  Once we embrace the fringe, we see how hard “rehabilitation” is and we’re more open to reveal and work on our own need of “rehabilitation.”–jll

7. Native flavor.

The ministries did not smell foreign. Certain areas of their ministry were more raw and vulnerable than others and they did not want foreigners, especially white Americans, turning up and stirring up unnecessary attention among the neighbours. Although they had not heard of it, the description “insider movement” would probably fit. I recognized one or two Western songs in the singing and the music they created was in part influenced by the global scene, but the ministries were quite Hillsong-free. Not all the Jesus followers used the “Christian” term. The size of the ministry was played down rather than promoted.–tsk

I’m not sure how to deal with this.  We’ve been exploring the challenges of building cross-cultural movements.  We’ve opened up our own organization to freely embrace cultural and racial differences. We’ve launched a mixed bag of successful and not so successful ethnic ministries. But we can’t seem to crack the nut. Our organization remains predominantly white.  I need some help here….how do we take the tallskinnykiwi observation that replicating movements don’t smell foreign?–jll

8. Daily rhythms.

Weekly services are sometimes not enough for those struggling to walk a new path, especially coming from addictions and deeply ingrained destructive lifestyles. Meeting daily, even if for a short time, was the norm. Some did this around meals, some around Bible studies.–tsk

Wow. Our movement building efforts don’t appear so incarnational that daily contact becomes a norm.  I still separate at times my life into “this is my ministry time” and “this is my personal/family/hobby time.”  I do ministry and then I do life.  It seems the more biblical pattern is “my life is my ministry.”–jll

9. Not outreach TO but outreach WITH others.

The Christians organized the outreach events to the urban poor and young people from many other religious backgrounds participated. I saw Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists all join in and work together. These same people would later return during the week to hang out and talk.-tsk

Over the last two years in our Haiti summer projects, we’ve been trying to advance a gospel movement guided by this principle: We don’t do things to people or for people; we do everything with people.  It’s been helpful, particularly when dealing with the materially poor and in developing the quality of our Haitian leaders.  We’re also learning that bringing blessing to others WITH others is often the door to belonging and to believing.  Many of our movements have seen how “being a blessing and creating a sense of community belonging” leads eventually to following Jesus–to belief in and reliance on Jesus as King.–jll

10. Something for the whole family.

Outreach to the discarded of society involved visiting the families of those youth and attempting some reconciliation or at best, informing the parents that their kids were OK. Baptisms were generally postponed until the whole family joined in.-tsk

I recently spoke to one of our former international leaders who commented: “Our years of student projects to key foreign universities in my country only produced long-lasting viable movements when accompanied by “communities/churches” that were opened to the whole family–from grandkids to grandparents.”  Believing that God wants to take the “whole campus to the whole world” has driven us to some new realities.  When you include faculty (and ideas) to our university movements, you suddenly confront families, the work/marriage/ministry balance, etc.  We’re forced to go deep now–which is probably good. I wonder how prepared our missional team leaders are to building movements where non-staff leaders may have families. Child-care at the weekly meeting? Why not?–jll

11. Prayer

I didn’t see legendary all night prayer meetings like the Koreans but prayer was a casual part of everything they did. There were many physical healings in answer to prayer and the supernatural was accepted as normal.–tsk

Again, I so often underestimate the power of prayer and God’s willingness to intervene.  Paul Miller’s book, The Praying Life, has helped make prayer a more normal and casual rhythm within my leadership responsibilities.  But I’ve so far to go. Any thots?–jll

The tallskinnykiwi summarized these new Jesus movements as follows:

Yes, the ministries were characterized by GRACE. Some of the leaders had fallen back but had bounced out and launched forward again by the grace of God and were embraced back into the community. And they were wonderfully generous. Being poor, they made many rich. Including our family who were treated like royalty. We left with our backpacks filled with gifts and our hearts filled with a sense of overwhelming debt of gratitude.

Also, the intentionality of the movement was focused on impacting people’s lives with the gospel and NOT on creating community or starting churches which they saw as a natural outgrowth.

I am SURE there were other factors that contributed to the success of this particular movement but alas, I am too young and too dumb to know what they were. So I humbly leave these 11 practices with you to contemplate and discuss.

For another provocative article by tsk see 9 Reasons Not to Plant a Church here