Contemporary Christianity loves its corporate America-style constructs of vision statements, leadership gurus, definitions and strategies. Sometimes churches and Christians fall prey to “we are our vision statement” reductionism. In other environments lacking the redemptive pressures of the gospel to the contrary, these become designs for “getting everyone on the same page” – a bottom line for the bottom line so to speak. The unfortunate ramifications of a purely rationalist paradigm in such matters (clearly the love of post-Enlightenment humankind) is a lust for unanimity rather than a move toward diversity in unity. After all, homogeneity is easier to control and quantify.
With all of that as precursor I must say that writing a personal mission statement has been one of the most meaningful undertakings of my entire adult life. Although not a complete picture of the tapestry unfolding, it has acted nonetheless as an important organizing principle for my life in general terms. It has also acted as a helpful guide in my own spiritual formation.
I’ve often questioned whether spiritual formation can ever be “offered” as such, believing that it can only be “encountered.” However, I am pleased by the resurrection of the terminology in post-modern thinking to describe this deepest of life goals. It is a classical Christian perspective on one’s continual conversion, incarnationally, into the person of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, “discipleship”, has become its modernist, Descartian counterpart, by contrast more suggestive of a mental assent to universally agreed upon systems of thought and doctrine birthed in rationalism. It, for me, has often been the clearing house for “believe this and all shall be well” data-driven Christianity.
God’s personhood and redemptive action (and by extension, my own) work both in and through the worshipping ecclesia. As God’s physical voice in the world, we are, clearly and hopefully, to state God’s loving intentions without the typical “mighty speak” rhetoric which can have the effect of bull’s eye Christianity loudly declaring who’s in and who’s out. A progressive orthodoxy, diversity in unity, and holistic sensibilities are what encourage me. If that is what the church is about, count me in.