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for the Way
Former Resident Peter Norton and Neighbor Mike Roy of the Bonhoeffer House, Dallas TX
A Living Image of Communion
Discipleship as a Three-Legged Stool, Week 12

By Adam White
August 3, 2016

Over the past three months we have been discerning what discipleship looks like from our perspective at Missional Wisdom by using the image of a stool. One leg of the stool represents community. One leg is the loving of our neighbors as ourselves. Another leg is the pouring and filling of grace that we experience in following Christ is the greatest commandment. The top of the stool and connecting factor is the missional life of faith.

A stool represents becoming disciples because it is something that has different parts which, connected as one, creates a balanced foundation for others to rest upon. Such a model echoes words from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 12:12

We are beautiful, complicated, unique creations of God who in the fabric of creating and sustaining us as daughters and sons of the world, yearns for us to be connected as one unified body. We were created by God to be for each other. God was poured out in Christ as a means for us to receive grace and model for us what it means to live a life of connecting with and caring for others.

We are meant to be a living, breathing image of communion. A constant and graceful movement that makes room to receive and extend love. Love to accept ourselves and others amid a chaotic world that daily cries out for acceptance and reconciliation. We are grace-filled extensions of Christ. We reflect the divine image of Christ through our words, thoughts, and actions. Our lives are wondrously tangled up with others’ through a Spirit that strives eternally for all persons to experience acceptance and reconciliation.

Before getting married this past May, I (Adam) lived in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House for six years. Every week the residents of the home prayed together in the mornings and opened the doors to neighbors in our local area for a community meal. These meals and prayers were small sacred stools.

As residents and neighbors joined in our prayers and meals, we created a leg of community, one that included a beautiful diversity in age, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds. We did not only seek to offer resources or a meal with neighbors, but also observe a posture of receiving and in doing so created a leg of pouring and filling with one another. We had homeless friends who cooked with us, helped us tend to dishes, and so much more. And we never even asked for such offerings, they were simply extended to us as untethered gifts of God’s deep grace. Through creating room to receive and offer our stories with one another, as a community, we entered into a relationship of love, creating yet another leg. We loved one another deeply, reflecting glimpses of God’s divine love for us, which served as a foundation to serve with one another as a missional community, creating a top to our stool.

Living as disciples of Christ finds us creating legs of community, love, pouring/filling, and a missional life with others, who, like us, are yearning to experience grace, acceptance, and reconciliation. We may not all live in a monastic community like the Bonhoeffer House, but that does not keep us from intentionally carving out space with Christ and neighbor to be disciples in the unique ways that God created us to be for one another. We each have gifts and needs that can connect with many people around us, binding us together in one sacred, diverse, and wondrous community of faith.

Our efforts at Missional Wisdom are rooted in this intentional foundation of trying to connect with others through being led by God’s Spirit. Our desire is that we might become tangled in God’s grace with you and witness the gifts you offer as a sister or brother in the unified body of Christ we all are reaching out to be accepted and reconciled within.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
  • What do legs of community, pouring/filling, and living out the greatest commandment look like in your faith context?

  • What does the foundation of your missional life with others include?
Next Week: Theme II - Missional Community as a Means of Grace
Spotlight: The Institute for Vital Ministry
a new nonprofit being incubated within MWF

"You are not alone."  

These life giving words are like cool water to a parched spirit for many who serve in ministry – both clergy and laity alike. Living one's faith and spirituality by serving in ministry is an opportunity for incredible joy as we learn with, from and about other people. We can stretch ourselves as we lean into the places and situations that challenge us, perhaps even where we feel a sense of anxiety. Every day can bring new experiences and discoveries as we embrace Community, Loving God and Neighbor, and the Eucharistic Life – the three legged stool of discipleship that we seek to live at the Missional Wisdom Foundation. 

And, it can be really tough. The Institute for Vital Ministry (iVM) was founded to meet people in the midst of their ministry and be "companions on the journey." This companionship from iVM emerges primarily through coaching, pastoral care and spiritual direction offered to individuals, groups, and ministry teams. At the Missional Wisdom Foundation, we like to say "Go out. Go Deep. Go together." Missional is always contextual, and it is always relational. For those of us raised and trained by and in the mainline Christian traditions, this sometimes comes as surprising good news. MWF seeks to respond to proclaim this good news in a variety of ways, including incubating other nonprofits whose vision is complementary to our core. The Institute for Vital Ministry is one such organization. 

The founder, Ken Crawford, has served for over 25 years across multiple denominations and in ecumenical settings, both congregational and nonprofit. Through his own experience, and the research and observation of peers and colleagues, he has developed several resources and processes that support flourishing and wholeness for lay leaders and clergy. His most recent work has been with clergy who trained for and served in settled pastorates, but have found themselves drawn out into multivocal expressions of their ministry that include congregational, non-profit, for-profit, and social entrepreneurship settings.  

At the center of all the work at iVM is an understanding of what we call a "Synchronous Life" - one in which individuals and groups are able to see and pursue wholeness across all of life. We help people move beyond surviving to thriving in ministry by integrating the life-giving energy available in each facet of life into a harmonized system. Too often we live siloed rhythms where our professional, personal and private lives do not overlap – if we can at all help it. Unfortunately, living this way is exhausting, and robs us of the gifts that each domain of life can offer to the rest of who we are and who we are called to be. Drawing upon the skills of coaching, pastoral care, and spiritual direction, working with individuals and groups, we are here to accompany you, because we believe that "wherever your road leads... you don't have to travel alone." 

You can learn more about the work of iVM and Ken's ministry at www.iVitalMinistry.org. If you would like to explore working with a coach or spiritual director, please contact Ken at KCrawford@missionalwisdom.com

ABOUT:  Rev. Ken G. Crawford serves on staff with the Missional Wisdom Foundation as a wholistic leadership and life coach to the people who work at The Mix Coworking. He is also part of the leadership team for Anam Cara. Ken was fortunate to work under the guidance of Elaine Heath who served as his DMin thesis advisor. 

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