22 February 2012

from M's weekly newsletter, "The Conversationalist"

i've decided that i'm going to post the weekly blasts that we put out for our M community so that i have some semblance of a regular blog. enjoy!


living a life that demands an explanation

last night i had the incredible privilege of meeting with the five other trailblazers that form the M core team. we gathered amidst the clamour of a downtown barrie cafe on a weeknight, and planned, purposed, questioned, reflected and recommitted. it was truly inspiring.

one of the questions that arose at the table is 'what are we about, anyway?'

[ this has now become a staple of all M leadership discussions ]

the reality is that we [ M ] are continuously trying to discover and define our reason for being. we've spent time discussing our five M core values, we're considering what place a mission statement might have and what it could look like - all the while wondering if there's some concise form into which we can distill our perceived mandate.

and that brings me around to our conversation this past sunday with shane dennis.

shane's life seems to mirror his music. rapidly paced, eclectic, rhythmic, profound and engaging. from being an environmental activist, to a hip-hop performer who is concerned about communicating positive values through his art form, to branding an ethically-made clothing line and facilitating locally-grown produce, shane seems to exempify a life that is extended in all directions.

my wife and i wondered aloud the next day, "what's the thread that holds all of these things together for him?"

in other words, what is he about anyway? what's his mission statement?

shane spoke about being a humanitarian, and numbering gandhi and martin luther king jr. among his heroes. but we wanted to probe for more - what ultimately drives him to live this kind of life?

i wonder if the reason that i look for an answer to that question is because i want to be able to bottle him up, slap a label on him and process him tidily as a ___________ type of person. however, shane has basically said, "here i am world - check in with me or don't". and ultimately i feel a sense of shame for trying to reduce him down to a category.

i've long said that those of us who choose to submit to and follow Jesus ought to strive to live a life that demands an explanation. somehow the evidence and footprint of our lives should prompt those around us to ask that question of 'why'? what are you about, anyway? and then we can engage them in conversation, just as shane was gracious enough to do with us.

alright, switch back to the M leadership conversation last night.

is our energy going to be consumed with trying to settle on a logically tight and easily memorizable definition of why we exist? don't get me wrong, i'm all for mission statements and clarity ... or at least, i'm all for the process of theological and existential wrestling that winds up producing those pithy paragraphs. sometimes after all of that hard work they end up being printed on very pretty paper, framed, hung on the wall and promptly forgotten. that last part i'm totally against.

an alternative is to continue to funnel our energies toward being a community that exists and operates in such a way that continues to provoke the question, what are you about anyway? why would you do these things? as i contemplate this, i think of the time that the disciples of john the baptist came to Jesus demanding that he define himself. and in a very 'i yam what i yam' kind of way, Jesus responded by redirecting their attention to the evidence of his passion.

may you - may we - be living the kind of lives that attract others into conversation with us, that inevitably demand an explanation, and that unmistakeably bear out Jesus' passion to redeem the world.


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