A Response to the Call for InnovationWritten by Elaine Heath on December 20, 2012 | Found in: Academy
Recently, UMC Pastor Rob Rynders issued a passionate plea for a new era of innovation in the United Methodist Church. From each of their ministerial contexts, the leadership team of the Missional Wisdom Foundation responds with how that era has already begun.
"In our suburban megachurch, innovation means flexibility and taking Wesley's Scriptural Way of Salvation very seriously. It means being committed to both-and, offering both the highly attractional Christmas musical event and the deeply contemplative Service of Remembrance. It means being a home for Sunday Morning Methodists and to people who follow Jesus but have trouble calling themselves Christian. It means mixing Saturday Morning Service opportunities with deeply committed mentorship programs for low-income immigrants. Innovation in our context works to meet people where they are, both in the church and in the brewpub, and to walk with them as they move closer to Christ. No lockstep program, lots of tolerance for differences, and plenty of grace as we grow in holiness together."
"Innovation in theological education means engaged learning that gets students and faculty out of the classroom and into the world in new ways. Next summer the Missional Wisdom Foundation is hosting an innovative pilot that brings seminary students and faculty from multiple seminaries to Asheville, NC, where we will live in intentional community, follow a rule of life together, learn about evangelism and UM doctrine, and engage in missional ministries together. The "classroom" will be the city and surrounding rural population of Asheville. This innovative program is being made possible by a partnership between the MWF, Western North Carolina Conference, Blue Ridge District, several area churches and non-profits, the Brookes Howell Home, the participating seminaries, and a generous grant from the Fund for Theological Education."
"Missional communities like New Day are one such innovation. New Day is a network of micro-communities in the Dallas area which meet weekly for worship and a meal in a neighborhood setting. Each separate community exists in a different context, which shapes the mission focus of that community. The leaders of each community commit to live by a Rule of Life, as well as shape their community around the practices of contemplative prayer, hospitality, and justice. The result is always -- innovation! In one place, New Day has spawned a brand-new ministry for refugees after they are no longer receiving case management from social service agencies. In another setting, a Celebrate Recovery ministry was started as a result of the community's discernment."
"Innovation means creating contexts for learning and discipleship beyond the seminary classroom…beyond the small segment of the church called to attend seminary in the first place. It means cultivating the missional imagination within each person; asking the questions, "Where is the kingdom of God already breaking in here?" and "Where do we desperately need God's kingdom more fully?" The Academy for Missional Wisdom is one such example. Clergy and laity study together, collaborate in missional mischief and help one another see what should be, can be and will be through the power of the Spirit. Coaches and Spiritual Directors help the participants look carefully at their local context and prayerfully bring together a small community of change. Being innovative includes living simple, ordinary rhythms with such intentionality that the mundane becomes the revolutionary."