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Thursday, February 24, 2011

some reflections on the mgb commission

If you are wondering, MGB what?  The Middle Governing Bodies Commission is a group established by the 2010 General Assembly to study, evaluate, recommend, and even enact changes to the structure and purpose of our Presbyterian structure of presbyteries, synods, etc...   This is a subject in which I am quite interested.  I wrote about one such re-visioning of the presbytery in a post entitled "Searchlight (Missional) Presbytery?"

In "From the MGB Comm Observation Deck #3" - commission chair, Tod Bolsinger, writes the following:

Second, do we agree that the congregation IS the basic form of mission, and thereby the basic form of church? Do we agree that the congregation in its particular contexts is the foundational and primary place where the MISSION of GOD engages the need of the world? The congregation (and not the denomination nor the individual) is the foundational, first line engagement of God to the world. 
I commented on Tod's blog post and wrote the following... would be interested in feedback or pushback from any readers of my blog.
So I'm tracking with what you have in this post, but find myself wanting a little more nuance on congregations being the basic unit of mission, without better describing the role of the individual. I agree that it is more inaccurate to say that either individual or higher governing body is the basic unit, but would like to see more integration of how the individual is called in and with the community.

I'll also give this more thought (as it's new to me) - but am thinking practically in terms of my own congregation. I think what I'm looking for is a recognition that each member is called to ministry and mission in the world, not disconnected from our local congregation, but as expressions of it. Even as a small congregation, we don't move in the world in a 200-person clump, but in ones and twos (and sometimes more)... perhaps the Pauline metaphor of the body would be helpful. Sometimes there is work that only a hand can do (don't want to try gardening with one's feet)... but the hand doesn't (or should not try to) operate in discontinuity from the body.

All that is to say that I'd look for a more precise way of saying "the basic unit of mission is the congregation"...

Maybe (and just thinking out loud here):

The basic unit of mission is the individual Christian, participating in and with the congregation as a local expression of the Church, related and accountable to other congregations through the service of the higher councils of the church.
I'd welcome feedback (or pushback)...
I would note that Tod offered some more nuance in the post; I'm just trying to enter into the conversation and push a little towards more clarification over the relationship and calling of the individual and the congregation.

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