I've been putting together the winter issue of Talk - the magazine of the Mainstream movement - this week. It's on the conference theme of intentional discipleship. One of the key components is examining LifeShapes - Mike Breen is one of the speakers and Paul Maconochie is leading a seminar strand.
I've begun to think about how some components of LifeShapes can begin to mould the basic relationship life of our church - helping people to support and be accountable to one another in small groups (threes and fours). If this happens I think it would have a profound impact on how we do membership.
In conversations - as well as comments on this blog - the issue of how we relate to one another has been bubbling around. Certainly over a great Sunday lunch last week, we had quite an animated discussion about how unhelpful membership language was - it tended to create barriers between Christian people (namely those who were 'in' and those who were 'out') and it suggested the church was more of a business than a family.
If people are in supportive and mutually accountable relationships because that's basic to the shape of our church, regardless of whether they're members, maybe it'll help us to be more inclusive in the way we treat one another. Maybe we'll begin to know better how each other sees things, so charting direction and making decisions becomes more intuitive.
I certainly think that Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad are right when they say 'High control/low accountability church leadership systems are not working. The preoccupation with programmes, property and products is missing the mark.'