continuing on books that explore what it means to be missional i really loved mark scandrette's latest practicing the way of jesus: life together in the kingdom of love. mark is an inspiring artist-mission-poet-theologian - my description not his. based in san fransisco together with his family he has consistently oriented his life around mission locating in a poorer district to share christ in the community. [his last book soul grafitti was excellent - two things still linger in my mind from it a few years on - his take on jesus as artist, healer, mystic and companion; and the amazing story of emperor arcadia as an example of an experiment in truth]
the basic deal in mark's take on being missional in the book is that it's no good just thinking, theorising and talking about it. it needs to be lived, embodied or practiced.
What if, instead of talking about prayer, we actually prayed; or what if, in addition to studying about God’s heart for justice, we took action to care for needs? Or, what if, instead of just telling each other about our struggles, we committed to a path for change? It seemed like the missing ingredient was a context that would encourage honesty, invite us into community and move us from information into shared actions and practices.
the metaphor he uses is the jesus dojo, an environment of active participation and contribution together...
In Japanese the word dojo means “place of the way” and is used to describe a school or practice space for martial arts or meditation. Theoretically, a dojo could be created for any skill or discipline. You could have a knitting dojo, a cooking dojo, a karate dojo—or a Jesus dojo. The important distinction is an active learning environment, where participation is invited and expected.
he then nails exactly what is involved in a jesus dojo as follows - it is (1) an experiment, (2) inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus, (3) in which a group of people commit time and energy to a set of practices, (4) in conversation with real needs in our society and within themselves, (5) and reflect on how these experiences can shape the ongoing rhythms of life. simple eh?!
he then goes on to share inspiring examples, outlines how to go about setting up such experiments in truth, and suggests in a way that is imossible to argue with that leaders should clearly be practitioners in tis way who are able to invite others into a common journey and that this might be the best way to help grow disciples. he suggests five areas in which jesus focused and suggests these as areas for developing practices - identity, purpose, security, community, freedom and peace. it's intensely practical and hard to resist.
mark has a new website devoted to the jesusdojo. and on that is the first chapter as a taster along with a movie of mark talking about it and a section to add experiments which i think is a great idea and hope it strirs people to acton and to then share those experiments with mark to add to his site.
compared with the other books on missional i reviewed over the last two days this is the most practical. if you want to transition a regular church go for al roxburgh - this is probably a bit too scary! though he says the kinds of people who engage with them in their experiements are church goers wanting something deeper, post church people, and people who are starting new communities so you never know. i really recommend this and think again it's a book that would do well to be read and discussed by a community or group of friends to then put some experimentation into practice!
to be honest get any of these books and get people reading and talking about them and then refelct on what to do - you surely can't go too far wrong... i am hopeful that these books are signs - signs that there is something fresh in what has been deconstructing and reconstructing faith as alt worship, emerging, emergent, missional community and so on - a recallibration around living out a life of mission amongst neighbours and in communities in creative and risky ways to follow in the way of jesus.