Monday, July 23, 2007

Patrick Keifert | We Are Here Now

We Are Here Now: A New Missional Era

This is an unusual book. On the one hand, it is a kind of cultural and congregational study in the traditional vein of materials that addresses change in the church. Keifert assesses "where we are", and is a participant in the on-going missional church, post-Christendom thing. The book is helpful as a summary of that discussion.

But it is also a description of the way Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) works with clusters, judicatories, and congregations to effect change, to consult for missional church, asking the key question, "What is God's preferred and promised future for our local church?"

As a springboard for reflection on the local congregation and its ministry, this is profoundly helpful. Since it is the description of a consulting process, it does not work well as a "how-to" book, since a finding of Keifert's is that partnership for missional church is effected most successfully when it is a partnership of 12-15 churches.

Keifert writes, "To review, the purpose of this book is to describe a journal of spiritual discernment that is done communally within local congregations, among 12-16 partner churches, and with still other partners."

Probably the most important insight from the book (there are an incredible number of these insights in the book- it is VERY rewarding): development of mission/vision for a congregation takes place in the late stage of a 4-6 year process of discernment that begins with "dwelling in the Word," includes experimentation, and then only begins after considerable time spent doing these things, as well as "listening each other into free speech."

This is a crucial insight, because a lot of mission/vision resources will start you right away writing a mission/vision statement, without any insight into whether those will be effective over the long term, or appropriated culturally within the congregation.

I recommend this book. It bears more and more fruit through multiple readings. Our leadership team is reading it this summer as part of discernment and dwelling in the Word process.

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