I’ve been following Jordon Cooper’s blog for years. He is one of the pioneer bloggers in the whole genx/pomo/emerging church convesation. Today he mentioned the Mustard Seed House (MSH) as one example of what it might look to have a missional imagination by growing communities instead of planting churches. He also mentioned other sisters communities like The Simple Way and The Hawthorne House.
The Mustard Seed House (MSH) is a small expression of Christ community in Seattle. MSH is what I called a Liberated Space – a God’s Liberated Space. With God’s help we are striving to embody in a physical space what we believe are the values of God’s new society. As a community living an alternative story and by different rhythms than those imposed to us by the Empire. If you ask us to describe ourselves, we might say that we are a group of people trying to follow God in the way of Jesus as a new kind of family.
jordoncooper.com: The Missional Imagination
My question is what if we started to start ministries and ideas that had the community in mind as opposed to planting another church, what would they look like? I think of Harambee (I love their history), Urban Rest Stop, a small scale family housing program, third spaces like the Freeway, or the Franktuary (read the story), or places like the Simple Way, Mustard Seed House, or the Hawthorn House.
My other question is what if we made a commitment to the places abandoned by the empire? I expressed my frustration before about the 1000 Christians descending on the west side to “clean up the place” for a day. I guess it gives warm fuzzy’s to people who don’t actually shop, live, or even visit the lower west side but I am talking about making a long term commitment to a place that are often left behind. These places aren’t just in the inner city either. I was outside of Ottawa a couple of years ago and some of the rural communities look like the last the good thing that happened to them was during the Diefenbaker years. I think of what former NHLer Joe Juneau is doing up in northern Quebec.
When I have shared these discussions previously, one of the questions that comes up is sustainability. Of course all of the links I have given have shown sustainability over the years in a variety of ways but there is a bigger question that we don’t often address and that is the unspoken idea something has to support a salary (often of clergy) to be worthwhile. Until we figure out a way to fight our addiction to a paycheck from the church, the mission of many churches will be to provide employment for pastors. Are we courageous enough to take a risk knowing that it probably won’t pay off but because it is the right thing to do and do it in some of the poorest neighborhoods where they may be no pay off?