I’m working at seeing CCC (Campus Crusade for Christ) thru a different set of lenses. John B. Hayes speaks in his book Submerge of trying to lead a “mission order” — not an missionary agency. As director of InnerCHANGE, he wants to recapture the “mission, mystery, discipline, distinctive values and longevity” of what have been traditionally known as “mission or mendicant orders.” The two largest and best known of those mission orders are the Orders of Friars Minor (Franciscans) and the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

While avoiding the negative images of severity, authoritarianism, celibacy and elitism in such mission orders as these, Hayes garners leadership lessons by embracing these “orders” structurally, rather than ideologically. In other words, he wants to help his missional communities (not teams) to experience the same internal dynamics of support as these orders.

Orders are defined as “religious communities living by mutual consent according to the principles of a common rule of life.” Mission orders are different from monastic orders. Monastic orders establish themselves as cloistered communities removed from the world in order to engage it through prayer and a practical model of spirituality. Mission orders, on the other hand, engage the world as front-line agents in the work of evangelism, church planting, teaching and so forth. The world is their parish and members are apprenticed as missionaries to directly advance the kingdom of God.

As I read of Hayes’ approach to leading a mission order, I wondered if seeing local ministry or movement planting teams (Hayes would use “communities instead of teams”) as a “mission order” might advance our effectiveness in building movements everywhere. Here are some of the points he made:

Mission orders recognize that the “community of peers one is called to minister with is more important than the initial geography one feels called to.” They place a premium on complementary gifts, skills and personal make-up among their communities. (Missionary agencies, Hayes argues, too often prematurely group candidates together as teams simply because they all want to deploy to the same place.)

Mission orders behave more as communities than teams. Individuals informally make long-term commitments to one another rather than commit to “five year plans.”

Mission orders realize that everyone is a mixed bag of assets and liabilities. They recognize that early training should deal more with these identity issues than with task performance. As a result, they believe that new mission workers or staff benefit the most from having an apprenticeship in a community in which they learn skills but also learn about themselves in the context of a supportive group. (Missionary agencies, on the other hand, ignore these issues and focus on training directly related to the mission task. As a result, new staff overemphasize task accomplishment as the primary goal in mission and don’t see the value of “being, not simply doing.”)

Mission orders emphasize the truth that God is more intent on fashioning them as a people, set apart with specific values and vision, than as an organization with a job to do.
As a result, they help members map out an ongoing personal formation plan which is lived out in community.

Mission orders see the importance of being missionaries among their target group rather than missionaries to their target group. Orders are incarnational by definition; agencies may not be. Relationships are foundational to everything orders are and do.

Mission orders agree to a common rule of life. Hayes’ InnerCHANGE missional communities uphold 10 essential values and 6 commitments. Common commitments, shared values and collective purpose feed into and produce ever greater community among the members of a mission order.

Mission orders seek a depth of spirituality that sustains them amid the rigors and disappointments of ministry. They emphasize the contemplative practices and rhythms of prayer and community life common to more monastic orders. Through the practice of action/reflection, they work at a responsive spirituality that leads to more Christ-formed lives.

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