Here’s how this thing works…

August 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

Welcome to the Tangible Kingdom Primer Blog where you’ll find additional thoughts, comments, questions, and answers from each day’s reading. There are two ways we hope this blog can serve you on your journey:

  1. As a primary resource hub for your community during the primer.
  2. As an occasional resource for you on your personal journey.

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The thoughts posted are archived from the journey of Austin New Church as they piloted through the TK Primer through several Missional Communities. Each time a question or comment is made, the blog moderator and each person commenting on that topic will receive a notification and invitation to respond. So we can literally journey together through the primer whether you’re in Victoria, British Columbia or in Austin, Texas.

To get started, either click the corresponding ” TKP Week” listed at the top for each week’s comments or do a word search in the box provided. Each week is titled (Week # Day #) so for whatever section you’re on you can search specifically for that day as well or even a topic.

Feel free to ask questions and leave comments. Both on struggles and victories. Be a part of the conversation and let us know how we can serve one another as we learn from one another.

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Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 6) “Manufacturing Organic”

August 17, 2009 § 5 Comments

One of my favorite movies of all time is Tommy Boy. (Don’t judge me) The story line is about a recent college graduate who tries to save the family company after his dad died by going out on the road to make sales.  The problem is that for years the people were buying from his dad because they liked his dad. Tommy went out to try and sell and experienced complete failure. He was down and out and was pretty tough on himself.tommy_boy1

Tommy Boy: “Let me tell you why I suck as a salesmen. Lets say I go into some guys office lets say he’s even remotely interested in buying something well then I get all excited I’m like Joe Joe the Circus Boy with a pretty new pet (the pet is my possible sale) Oh my pretty little pet I love you so I stroke it, and I pet it, and I massage it hehe I love it, I love my little naughty pet you’re naughty and than I take my naughty pet and I go (clrrrr clrrr) Aahhh I killed it, I killed my sale. Thats when I blow it.”

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Tommy finally finds his groove, makes some sales, and saves the company. He did so through just being himself and acting natural. He realized he was working too hard to impress others. That the typical sales techniques just didn’t match who he was. And it didn’t work. Kinda like David trying to wear Saul’s armor. It just didn’t fit.

Our nature is to put too much pressure on ourselves to do things right and to do things now. This reveals our debtors mentality which can really hijack our faith journey. The problem with that is that we simply cannot manufacture organic. So be ready, but be relaxed, and be willing. Missional should be bathed in prayer because we are looking for “God” moments “on our way” not forced moments that we create. That can be THE difference between real and inauthentic. Knowing that it is initiated by the Spirit’s movement should help take the pressure off and allow us to enjoy the journey.  If you find yourself anxious or feeling “guilty” that you’re not doing enough… maybe you should give yourself permission to just relax more.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’! After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit” – John 20:19-22

Jesus told the disciples to relax, then told Him that He is sending them.  He didn’t tell them to get all worried and troubled because He is sending them… He said “Peace be with you”. Another famous instruction from Jesus was a reminder that in this world, they would indeed have trouble, but to “take heart” because He had overcome the world.

I see two huge things for us from these words of Christ. The first is that even in trouble or confusion, we can have confidence in His calling. And the second is that we can relax and know that it’s better to “live” our faith outwardly and authentically than to “force” or “perform” our faith inwardly and forcefully.

Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 5) “Fork in the Road”

August 17, 2009 § 3 Comments

As with many community groups going through the Tangible Kingdom Primer, ours from ANC were pre-existing groups (with an already missional and service oriented DNA). In addition to helping us grow in an understanding for who we should be, each of us have seen how the study could be really useful for establishing new groups or “pioneering” groups from day one. Whether or not you were new at the beginning would determine how you approached many of the “action” steps along the way. Today is no different.

While this is the last week of this study, it doesn’t have to be the last time your community gets together. The discussion this week will include your plans for the future. Maybe some or all of you would like to continue together on the journey of living on mission.” – TK Primer pg.184

Although most of our communities were already in existence, each of us should still be considering how what we’ve learned over the past 8 weeks should inform and even shape what our gatherings look like. There were some real soul searching moments when we asked the questions from the “Inviting In” section.  Especially in the area of inviting an unbelieving friend, neighbor, or coworker into our community… would we do that? why or why not?

If not here, with us, then where? and when?

If we really wanted to be a place where someone can “belong” and find community, even before they “believed”… with hopes to “become” together (because none of us have really arrived yet)… that’s a question worth answering. That’s the heart of incarnational community. To walk with someone in life that they might find Christ.  Not to “change” them as a project. Lives are impacted through authentic relationships not contrived concern. All of our lives will be impacted.

So what does that look like? Keep your community gathering as they are? Tweak what you’re doing? Multiply them out where we can to make room for sojourners? Send out leaders as missionaries to start new communities? I think the answer is yes, all the above.

I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing what you decide.

Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 4) “Saying No”

August 17, 2009 § 2 Comments

WetLadyThe most important word my dog knows is, “No”.

“No”, has kept her out of trouble many times. Whether it’s been used to stop her from chasing after another dog who might not be as friendly as she is, to keep her from diving into the kitchen trash, or jaunting out into a busy street. “No”, has literally saved her life. It’s kind of a “junk drawer” word for her, but one that she takes seriously.

The most simple adjustment we can make to create room for a spontaneous, intuitive life is to cut out the things we don’t need to do. It’s so easy to get caught in patterns of saying “yes” to everything. Then, when God wants to use us, we’re too busy or too exhausted to respond.” – TK Primer pg. 182

We’re kinda the opposite of that. No is not a common word in our vocabulary (does that count as a double negative?). And we suffer the consequence at times. We talk a lot about the “margin” that we have to build into our lives to be intentional about mission and incarnational community… “No” might be the most important word to protect it. The key, however, is saying no to the right things. And listening for the right voice.

When my kids tell my dog “No”, she rarely responds. It’s as if she doesn’t hear them. If she does, she hesitates. When I do it, she stops on a dime. There’s a lesson to be learned here… there’s a belief, a priority, a motive, and an authority that speaks into our “No’s”.  Are we listening for where God is telling us to say no? Or are we listening for when our tradition, our guilt, our insecurities, or our selfishness tell us to say no? There’s a big difference.

Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 3) “Rhythms”

August 3, 2009 § 2 Comments

Wow. Here’s a thought from Susana Fletcher (ANC’er) on today’s reading. Good stuff:

I heard a teaching once on God’s war strategies. The reading today reminded me of it. When thinking of “artful rhythm”, it’s mind-blowing to think of God’s war tactics. I mean, think about poor Gideon, commissioned to fight the Midianites (Judges 7-9). God told him to get rid of 31,700 of his 32,000 men. Take the 300 men, blow some trumpets and break some jars. Trust me. Ooookaaaaaaaaay…

And on the softer side, there was a great man and Christian speaker named Art Katz. He was Jewish, and when reading the New Testament for the first time, he was on pins and needles at every turn, wondering what Jesus would do next. He found Jesus’ ways so contradictory to what he expected. He was amazed. The one story that “sealed the deal” for him was of the woman being stoned in John 8. After reading the line where the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”, Art put down the bible and walked away for a time. He tried to think what he would do. When he read Jesus’ response about throwing the first stone, and how he spoke to the woman, “Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin,” he was convinced. God’s ways are higher than ours, and this guy Jesus, pretty smart.

There’s tons of examples of God’s creativity. I guess one way of getting into the “artful rhythm” is to meditate on some of these examples. That way, when God prompts us to do something… unconventional… we react by thinking, “Yeah, that sounds like something God would do.”

Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 2) "What if…"

August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

I liked what Matthew Hansen wrote about today’s reading. So I figured I’d just post it:

Today’s reading reminds me of the Prophet Tyler Durden’s quote,

How much can you know about yourself, if you’ve never been in a fight? I don’t wanna die without any scars…

Often times to live in this incarnational life seem like a fight – we have to fight what we are used to, what our flesh and self desires, we have to fight culture, and the demands of materialism and consumerism. Then on the other hand, this whole incarnational life seems like a good idea, but due to the business of life, we ‘have’ to wait till tomorrow. The problem with that is, tomorrow is always tomorrow and never today…sometimes you just have to move now, sure it may scar you a bit, and it may get messy, but at least you don’t have to live the rest of your life wondering, “what if…”

Often times we wait for circumstances to get better, but sooner or later we learn life is life, and life is what happened and passed us by as we were waiting for things to line up…

So, what does this have do with being a missional incarnational person/community??? Everything! So, back to the beginning, for many of us (me included) this is a great idea and we will plug in once we…get our time prioritized, the kids are out of sports, I’ve finished school, the summer is over, I get the new promotion, etc, etc…but here is the deal, tomorrow may never come, so let us take advantage of the now…let us dive in and let the messiness and scars tell many stories of the lives we are living…NOW!

Tangible Kingdom (Week 8 Day 1) "Organic"

August 1, 2009 § 5 Comments

It’s hard to believe that we’re entering our eighth and final week of the TK Primer. I’m thankful we’re ending on the topic of incarnational community as a part of the “intuitive” life. What’s becoming the most refreshing part of this journey for me is realizing that the more I allow myself to relax and just be normal… the more natural it becomes.  The more natural it becomes, the more intuitive it becomes… the more authentic it becomes. It’s not another program or bible study, it’s more than something you do, it’s something you become “as you are going”.

As we start this final week together, let’s not forget our author’s reminder:

We hope that if you remember anything about this process, you’ll focus on the fact that incarnational community can happen anywhere. If you perceive it as one more program you need to add to your already complicated life, you’ll never make it.” – TK Primer Pg.171

I’m pretty sure that’s meant as a word of encouragement, not some kind of threat. However, there’s some real truth in there. Our nature is to take something natural and stuff it into a box, organize it, compartmentalize it, and apply it when it seems appropriate (or worse, only when we want to). That’s not what the intuitive life is all about. And if we approach it that way… it won’t work. And the community you find simply won’t be what you’ve been looking for.

And if you’re like most, you’ve already tried everything else. Every form of small group. Every form of Bible Study. Every form of Discipleship program… and now you’re given permission to just be yourselves… struggle together… learn together… grow together… and be honest with each other.  If the things we’ve always known, always seem to have the same results. Maybe there really is something more to be found… one thing’s for sure… “Something more” is exactly what we’re finding.