on wednesday i had the opportunity to attend the quarterly "birthday luncheon" hosted by a church planting organization that is a part of the stone-campbell tradition of which i am also a part. during the free form fellowship time at the end of the luncheon the leader of the church planting org encouraged me to touch base with the minister of my home church so that i could suggest a few ways the latter gent could more effectively connect with the older members in that church community.
i like the senior minister in my home church quite a bit. he has provided adequate pastoral care to my family and, through the ordination process, has openly affirmed my ministry. however, i do not have a strong relational connection to the man and i know precious little about his strategy for serving and leading my home church. for that reason, i think it would be awkward at best and wholly inappropriate at worst for me to ring him up and give him the 411 on connecting more effectively with the seniors in my home church. although i like the minister at my home church and we are in some sense bound by mutual affection, my connection to him is more institutional than relational.
fortunately, on the north shore i have connections with a number of ministers like jesse, ben and dave that are far more relational than institutional. within the past couple of weeks, i have had in depth conversations with one of these guys about the ecclesiological structure of his church, even though his church is not a part of my tradition. moreover, i have had more limited conversation with another about pursuing denominational affiliation and ordination in a number of traditions, none of which were my own. these connections with local ministers whom i regularly serve beside are much more important to me than the kind, yet quite tangential connection i have to most of the ministers in my tradition.
the rise of missional networks - from small groups like the origins project to large groups like the willow creek association - seem to suggest i am far from the only minister experiencing a simultaneous distancing from traditional affiliation and deepening of relational connection with local ministers and initiatives. i don't have the time or ability to map out all of the potential implications, but the shift from institutional to relational primacy will probably lead to pronounced shifts in our theology and missiology.
i suppose the primary conclusion of this post is that i need to finish friesen's thy kingdom connected.
* i've borrowed the concept of the loyal radical from jonny baker. his description of living in the tension between the center and the margins really resonates with me.