What Does Missional Mean?, Week 6
by Adam White
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Most of us probably understand the concept of synergy and how it helps to have complementary parts of something working together for a desired outcome rather than separate parts attempting a goal. Last week we discussed how segmented we can be and how living missionally, in light of scripture, calls us to un-segment ourselves. The next step, after un-segmenting, is to missionally bind together. This step involves entering a divine synergy with one another through the Holy Spirit.
Within this divine synergy, the Holy Spirit moves in and through the different aspects that make up our experiences of faith. These can be called “means of grace.” There are two sides to this, an individual and a communal part. Individually, we each experience God’s grace working in a myriad of different and unique ways and our souls converge with the Spirit through prayer, service, reading, fasting, and much more.
Then there is a communal aspect. We explore faith not in a vacuum, but are called to see it, hear it, and touch it together in a communal sense.
For many this can be found in a church. The church is where we can go to join in something greater than individual self and encounter God communally in worship through song, prayer, receiving the sacraments, and outreach. Church can be a place where we hold each other in a sacred kind of accountability, seeking justice for others and ourselves by tenets founded in love and compassion. The church itself is a means of grace and is involved in the performance of many of the means of grace. It is important to note that the means of grace are not the exclusive domain of the church, and that means of grace can and do occur outside of the context of the church.
However, it seems like more and more, that the word “missional” is not reflected in a communal sense when people describe the function of churches today.
Why is that? For the Christian faith to be born out of a radically nomadic movement of divine synergy focused on communal worship and service to God, how have we ended up here? Is it something broken? Something lost? Is it something we can pin on institutions?
Or could it be that there is room for us to look at the church in a different way? Are we looking unfairly to the church to be the greatest sum of our parts? Or could it be that God is also working alongside our churches with divine synergy that reflects a radically nomadic movement of communal worship and service?
If we say yes to the latter, then what is our responsibility for engaging in missional practice within the church and outside of it? Part of our synergetic reality as a missional people involves being open to bridge together different parts of things we may not have thought could work well together. This concerns how we align ourselves to God’s grace. Do we enter into traditional and neo-monastic faith communities with presupposed limitations of where God can exist? Or do we attempt to enter into a reality of individually and communally opening ourselves before God, offering room to be led by the Spirit in worship and service, in ways that permeate both traditional and non-traditional faith communities?
God, thankfully, is much bigger than the sum of our churches, our expectations of church, and our attempts to live missionally.
God is bigger because God is the “whole” that is greater than the sum of our humanly limited parts.
Even still, God extends to us a divine synergy in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a means of grace by which we can experience a more wholesome faith, together beyond the parts we thought could never work together. God is the divine glue to our popsicle stick built world that is yearning for cohesion. How we individually and communally seek to come together, being led by the Spirit, will unveil a divine synergy of the likes of which we could never imagine.
Thanks be to God, the “whole” of our parts,
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
- How and where do you find individual synergy with God?
- How and where do you find communal synergy with others through the leading of the Spirit?
- In what ways do you yearn to experience “wholeness” with God, either individually or communally?