I was at a conference recently and a (fantastic) guy was being interviewed about the great stuff he was doing and he said “we’re very simply…” and he went on to cram in a list of about half a dozen buzz words from the world of Church planting.
Two favourite words I hear quite often are “Organic” and “Intentional” but they are often used to mean totally opposite things.
Organic means letting things grow naturally, develop how they will, seeing how it goes, a more sort ‘fasten your seat-belt and go where the ride takes you, and we aren’t quite sure where the end point is and how it will look when we get there’. Very much the missional model Jesus had when he sends out the 72 with no Alpha DVD’s in their ruck sac’s or why Jesus’ in their back pockets, no plan to build a stadium or with a worship leader already appointed with a guaranteed contract and salary for two years.
Whereas being intentional isn’t a model of “jump in and see what happens” but is a much more deliberate, planned and calculated, it’s not a reckless approach but one which is wise and asking the question “what can I do strategically to make the most fruitful Kingdom impact with the time and resources I have”.
It’s a model which doesn’t get blown around all over the place, or distracted from the central calling.
This model means you are looking for an opening to talk about Jesus, you are alert and trying to see the opportunities to introduce people to Jesus and to make disciples. You have a vision of what you want to see happen, how you would like the future to look (or how you believe God is calling you to shape the future) and how you envisage getting there.
The Apostle Paul was a pretty intentional guy, check out how he went to places with the express aim of talking about Jesus.
The danger with some organic missional stuff is it never actually quite gets around to you know talking about Jesus, and the group/community does its stuff but is it really producing global Christ-like disciples?
The danger with some intentional stuff, is we are too proscriptive and we don’t follow the spirit and listen to the community enough.
Yet I am wanting to be ‘intentionally organic’.
Taking the best from both.
In fact one phrase which our college used to say (or over say) was “hold that in tension” -often this is a silly way of ignoring a contradiction- but on some occasions (like this) the two seemingly opposing truths pull together, rather like an archers bow, and it is the tensions between the two truths that creates its power and its pull.
Yet when we are intentionally organic we are going into communities seeking out the people of peace, looking for the opportunities to build community, finding out where God is already at work and joining in. It’s putting something new into the DNA mix. It is altering the ingredients in the recipe.
Yet it is organic enough to evolve with the community, it’s not turning out ‘cookie cutter’ churches all resembling each other, it doesn’t know the end of the journey before it’s beginning, other than the desire, intention and corresponding action that something of heavens Kingdom is planted here amongst these people.
It is like the first night joining a new band with an instrument they’ve not had before and having a jam (maybe playing jazz, see previous blog) and as we improvise together somehow we create new music and new harmonies, but as you are tuning up no one quite knows how it is going to go, but there is an intention that together journeying will produce something hitherto not seen before.
It is the tension between all mission and ministry which is both proactive and reactive, always arriving and always departing, it is the double listening to God and the community, it is learning to be in step with the spontaneous spirit of God who is somehow a God of order rather than chaos.