Reflections on a Manifesto 1

I broke  the news about Ron Martoia’s ttTribe Manifesto Here.  I’ve made some notes about it and here’s my reactions to it.  I’ll try to be as concise.

His intro I “amened” with statements  like “We can wait no longer–the time has come for a new way forward.”  & “Trekking new terrain calls for new maps.”  I appreciated him bringing up how a culture shift 500 years that has influenced us in church so long (pg2).  I was excited to see him mention Alan Roxburgh’s book Missional Map Making, the next book in my stack to read (pg2).  Anyway, this section was helpful I think for those that haven’t tried to dig as deep as some of us on what are actually behind some of the current “discussions” about church and culture.

I appreciated the section on how the church is currently set up on belonging after you ascribe to a set of beliefs.  The result isn’t transformed lives for the most part, its attendance (pg 3).  I’ve tried to get a grip on that conclusion for a few years now.  I had a short convo over email with someone about his section on education being too harsh.  I do think education needs an overhaul.  Or at least more teachers need more incentive/training/pressure to teach in multiple modes of learning past early elementary. The research on that has been out for decades now without much change in the classroom. I think he’s harsh, yet I think someone needs to speak out about change there too.  I will say that most of the conversations I’ve had with high school kids about school, work or sports are  based on fear, like Martoia suggests.  Or at least doing what’s adequate only to get a good grade, rather than actual learning.  Something’s amiss… but that seems like it could be another series of posts, or a book if someone wanted to tackle that. My book (or this post at least) needs to stick to the subject at hand – how we do church these days and days to come.  I see the point he is making that church, like our schools and other institutions are based on the values of Enlightenment, that knowledge and reason is king.  Not possessing the right knowledge makes you “out.”

His statement on page 5 is a good reminder, “But we can say for sure is that if belonging was a component, it wasn’t the point of purpose.  Transformation of life was clearly and unequivocally the point, the goal, and the reason!”  Often I think in re-shaping church to help people belong, we stop there.  Forgetting that’ s the only the vehicle.  Which makes many of us only guilty of what we criticize about the traditional church.  Which is more concerned with doing church how we want it, or have experienced it ourselves, rather than making disciples.

I’m feeling  weary of wearing out your eye’s so I think I will chop this response up.  Hopefully I can hone in more on the 5 invitations better than I was able to in this intro.

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3 thoughts on “Reflections on a Manifesto 1

  1. For several years, I’ve struggled with the concept of letting people belong before they believe and I think your comment strikes a cord. . . We made church accessible to people who only wanted to try it out, and we were content to let them stay as they were. . . . Which isn’t any better than the old way because the goal is still only attendance and not transformation.

    The other struggle, and maybe you’ll come to this in later posts, is that we have no power to transfrom people. We can only show them the path, walk with them down it, give them the knowledge, etc. God must do the transforming and they must want/desire to be transformed. . . .

    Maybe somebody needs to write a book about that, the desire to let God transform us. You’d think we desire transformation, we certainly spend money on self-help books. . . . but at the same time, deep down, we think we’re ok and we don’t really need to be changed that much: it’s only a little sin, it’s my personality, it’s somebody else’s fault . . . .

  2. I agree that the transformation happens when people allow God to do so. I picked up that “banner” at FC several times. They were times when we were talking about mission statements and tag lines. Are we transforming lives? Because it sounds like we are. All I got was blank looks. I think most people in the room thought I was splitting hairs… Some hairs should be! For instance, we should be “building bridges” which provides opportunities for transformed lives, but God does it we don’t. But, I’ve already said my people about that years ago.

    Having heard Martoia at a weekend conference speak about some of this, I’d say he’s come to some clarity about what he thinks. Fall of ’06 I heard him say “Information in, does not equal transformation out.” I think he’s hammering on our methods, systems and structures. He would say are all still based on Enlightenment values. I would agree for the most part. We don’t realize how much how we do church is influenced by culture or personal preference rather than the actual Gospel. I don’t think it was a problem years ago. Now that culture has change and we haven’t, that’s the problem. I’ve been trying to get my brain around this for years… and explain it to my fellow ChOGers for years. Culture has turned/shifted/moved, yet we stay the course. We stay deeply cultural course, not necessarily a stalwart Gospel course. None of us have lived during a epochal shift before so this is all new. But, I’ve noticed that the glaciers are moving and the landscape has changed. Our cultural values, and emphasis on knowledge haven’t changed, and the people that don’t know or follow Jesus have different values. Or said in another way, they live in a different culture. Its like me talking to my cousins from The Gold Coast of Australia, it sounds like English, but we’re speaking a different language!

    Like good missionaries, we must learn the culture and language before we do ministry. Retooling is a must.

    There has been book written about the subject. I’m sure more than one. It’s not specifically about a title like that, but the theme is close – willingness. Willingness to change, to allow God to use you. You should check out Soul Revolution by John Burke.

    I’m working on Graduate school application stuff this week, a total of 3000 words for entrance essays to be exact plus “formage” and references etc, etc, etc. I’ll get back to this, stay tuned.

  3. Good thinking Randy. I like the concept on transformation being a work of God. The best we can do is bring people to God and let him make the changes. Sometimes they aren’t what we expect.

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