As I was writing this post, I realised that I should probably clarify something that came up in the previous post, and in this one. The adjectives “Attractional” and “Missional” or “Incarnational” get used a lot, and often the discussion can feel like missional is good and attractional is bad. The truth is that the best churches, are both. If you don’t attract, most likely you repel. You can be the most missional church out there, but you are repelling, or un-attractive, you will not make much impact on the kingdom.
This is my personal belief, so do with it what you will, but if a church is not very clearly steering in the missional direction, they will naturally default to being attractional (i.e. focus on trying to get people in the community to come to your church). And over time, being attractional takes more and more time and energy and we have less and less energy, time and purpose to being missional.
So back to my decision to join Forge.
If you have read any materials from Mike Breen or 3DM, you have likely come across the discipleship triangle. The basic idea is that for us to grow as disciples, like as we grow in most areas of life, we need information, and imitation (in the form of apprenticeship and immersion), which in turn fosters innovation.
Think about how most discipleship happens in churches today. We teach a class, or cover a huge topic like forgiveness in a brief 30 minute sermon and then act like everyone should now be able to go and do what they were taught.
And then throw our hands up in frustration wondering why people are aren’t living like followers of Jesus, when we’ve clearly told them what they are supposed to do.
The vast majority of our “discipleship” is in the form of information transfer, with no opportunities to actually do, or view others do what we are learning.
I love to read…I married a woman who loves to read, and we have 4 kids who all love books. In the StrengthFinders both Elizabeth and I have Learner among our top 5 strengths. So I am naturally drawn to the “information” aspect of learning…whether it has to do with discipleship, church planting, or anything else.
Two weeks ago, during my first weekend at Forge, there was not a, “wow, I’ve never heard anything like this before!” experience for me (although I did still learn). At this point, I feel relatively familar with the material (but of course, this was the introductory weekend…we’ll see how the next one goes). Later, when we received our required/recommended reading list, many of the books on those lists were ones that I’ve already read and loved.
So, why don’t I just grab the books and read away? One of the things I’ve realised recently is that ministry-wise at least, is that I’ve really had one extended time of discipleship that you could call an imitation experience…and that was back when I was doing an internship for university minitry back in the late 1980’s. Since then I’ve relied a lot on reading, conferences, and networking with other leaders to try to learn as much as possible.
Back when we were in the process of preparing to move to Dublin, I wrote a a few post explaining that two central ideas we’ve had for ministry here in Ireland was that it needed to be sustainable and reproducible [part 1 | part 2:]
While I believe that more now then when I first got here, I see again and again how deeply old patterns of being and doing church are entrenched in my life. And lots great information has not done a lot at undoing them.
So Forge offers an opportunity for a period of immersion in a way of being a disciple…of being church, in a way that I am hoping that we can reproduce over and over again here in Dublin.
I’ll keep you up to date with how it’s going.