In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction. --Reggie McNeal
What this statement means to me is that in a "missionary culture" like our own, people are freed and empowered to serve God with little need for our missionary presence.
This would be the realization of our dreams if it were true on a wide-scale basis!
The truth of the matter is that our presence is still largely felt and people continue to look to "the missionary" for help, advise, affirmation, "permission", materials, and approval. While all of us need to some degree these things in our lives, they become unhealthy when long term we continue to be that "central hub."
Curtis Sergeant and CPM methodology speak of the MAWL training cycle (model, assist, watch, leave) as the basis of our missionary presence. It is likened to teaching a child to ride a bicycle.
Curtis explains that the parent...
1) provides a model by riding the bicycle,
2) provides assistance to the child by holding the bicycle as they learn to ride,
3) then watches while the child rides the bicycle by themselves,
4) and finally leaving the child to ride on his own.
The secret to achieving a missionary culture where people do not look to the central hub for direction is in understanding and applying the MAWL training cycle.
My own tendency is to stay in the first two stages of modelling and assisting. It is hard to stand back and just watch, not to mention leaving! It takes a special kind of parent to resist jumping in to rescue their children every time they know the child is about to mess something up.
I am personally not very good, nor do I really understand the "watch" stage very well. It is here that 2 out of every 3 new church plants dissolve, sink, disband--whatever you want to call it. It is very hard to stand by and watch something fall apart. Our tendency is to want to jump in and "fix it." Yet as I reflect on the house churches that have survived over the years, they are all--without exception--groups that we have indeed "watched" and yes, "left" to survive on their own.
Some make it, some don't. I have never been able to quite figure it all out.
Jesus says in Matthew, "I will build my church..." We are actually never really told to plant churches, we are told to make disciples. Making disciples consists in modeling, assisting, watching, and yes--leaving. The churches that no longer look to the "central hub" for direction are the ones that have survived.
Does any of this remind you of raising children?