An engagement of 4 parts:
In part 4, JR does well to make connections to past promises in the book and tie up loose ends. Most notably, he does so with a strong leaning toward practicality. Here, JR paints the picture of what polycentric leadership as missional culture creation looks like.
It also answers the ‘so what’ question.
It’s the “you have given me all this information on a bunch of important stuff, but so what?” question. Every book needs to answer this question. He sets out with purpose with an opening question himself that works to serve this purpose…
How do we create a missional culture that helps shape mature disciples who live in the world without being of the world, for the sake of their neighbourhood? (page 171)
When reading this opening line I thought to myself, ‘this is why I read this book!’
Within this first question of part 4 we have an interplay of some of the most significant topics of formational conversation that lay ahead of the missional church, in my opinion: Shaping mature disciples, maintaining Kingdom values (and not a whimsical liberalism… in my opinion) and participating and identifying what our ‘missional spaces’ are in each our own particular time and place. These are conversations that need to be pushed further into the depths of experiment and praxis.
Without giving away too much of the book, JR does this well engaging this opening question in part 4 while keeping within the framework of the polycentric leadership of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
It gets practical, very practical. At this point the readers need to know what it looks like. This leans heavily on his experience as a missional practitioner. Because of the high degree of practicality in this section, if informs the way in which the reader is to work though this material.
This book is not merely a one and done read. It is a resource. JR has been doing this for more than a decade and has saturated these pages with content that gives the feel of a very readable and engaging field guide. It is one of those books that you put on your shelf and pull off from time to time looking for ‘rubber meets the road’ wisdom.
This book is well done. JR has given his life to this work and you can tell. He offers resources in the appendix and on his website www.jrwoodward.net which speak to the reality that this is not merely a book JR has pumped out, but something that he has embodied. As a result, his book benefits greatly. This is a work that challenges, inspires and pushes the reader to understand and ultimately facilitate a missional culture.
Read this book. But as with any book I engage, there are places I would like to ponder further…
When I read books I like to identify further points of conversation I would have with the author would the opportunity present itself. I picture myself sitting with them in a coffee shop having a good ol’ conversation on the content. Hopefully the questions would be pointed and help me engage the material with my context. This is what I would chat with JR about:
- Unity – Ephesians 4 is a compelling text and uses powerful metaphor to explore what the church is and is to be in a particular place. Themes revolving around the church as “body” which grows/matures/and is unified in Christ. Amidst all the diversity that polycentric leadership embodies how can we be unified? Particularly in a missional sense where we engage a diverse world, and invite diversity into a community with diverse leadership.
- Bi-Vocational’ism’ – Sometimes I get the feeling, when I read missional literature, that I am ‘uncool’ or miss the point on missional theology and praxis because I am a full time paid pastor. In an institution wherein paid pastoral staff is important how can we engage this kind of material? Does this structure (fulltime paid pastors) need to be completely blown up?
- Next Steps – What is the next step in this conversation? Where are the future points of engagement on this material? Where would the author (JR) like to see this conversation and praxis head next?
If you haven’t done so yet, check out the reviews of the first three sections. Links found at the top of the post.