identifying as well as inciting missional churches
on saturday morning, while i was staffing a small fly-in at riverside airport in tulsa and helping prepare for the commemorative air force's (or CAF's) big hangar dance that night, i met an elderly man named jim. jim is a distinguished military veteran, an evangelistic proponent of a piece of evangelical drivel that is known as The Tulsa Beacon and a passionate composer and performer of both Christian and "secular" music (he designates the latter as secular because they focus on human love. a lot of them, i suspect, feature an accordion). but none of jim's hobbies or his steady handed support of the CAF interests me as much as his commitment to Christian mission.
the moment jim heard that i was some sort of pastor, he told me that in the past two years he has been a part of two different church plants. the first one was a fairly traditional, $300,000 down, more on the back-end and meets in a school gymnasium type of plant. however, the second is a small, mission oriented church that meets in a hangar out at riverside airport. when i asked jim why the second church, which he has recently made his official church home, meets at the airport he simply shrugged and said something like "that's where the people are." although i doubt john would put it this way, he is committed to taking the church to communities instead of asking the community to come to the church. i think that willingness to incarnate the church in different contexts and enculturate the body of Christ in the midst of particular sub-cultures is an essential part of being a missional Christian.
i think there are a number of Christians like jim, even in the gleamin' brass buckle of the Bible belt, who are as missional as emergent folk, but don't use our language. i think it is as important for us to identify these missional initiatives and perhaps even partner with them as it is for us to incite missional communities and initiatives of our own. to paraphrase rick warren (and so risk excommunication from the emergent elite:), if God is raising up a missional wave around the world, we best ride it.
other highlights and lowlights from the weekend:
highlight: seeing my pops in his element. my dad is a master organizer, shameless ham and effective leader. never was this more apparent than this weekend. way to go dad!
lowlight: waiting for 12 minutes (that's right 12!) to purchase a pair of tennis shoes at the local kohls. guess how many people were ahead of me in line? 2! in the midst of the weekend someone said that the food service at the oklahoma-italiano bistro we were eating at was a bit slow. if i was an uncharitable man, i'd say that everything in oklahoma runs a bit slow. but i'm not an uncharitable kind of guy.
highlight: hearing my baby cousin, lindsay, croon big band standards before a full dance floor and a hangar full of at least 1,100 people. i would piss my pants if i had to do that.
lowlight: being lured into political conversations (the magic word today, kids is: massachusetts!) with individuals who learned their reason and logic from rush limbaugh. if i was uncharitable i'd say that the majority of political wags in oklahoma don't know their appendixes from their arseholes. but i'm not uncharitable, so i'll just say that i wish that all of us, right and left, would learn to respect the political opinions of others and discuss our differences in a reasonable way.
highlight: carpenter winning the cy young (even without my staunch, principled advocacy). he was the first redbird since gibson in '68 to bring that award back into the nest. now that pujols has been awarded the mvp we have our first consecutive cy young/mvp season since '68. i may or may not have a clipping from the post-dispatch hanging up in my cubicle right now. moreover, i may or may not want becky to pick me up a copy of today's pd, so that i can make my post-season award wallpaper complete.