Starting a New Page

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. These have been busy times with so much happening on so many fronts. I’ve wanted to update you on what’s been developing but recognized that a firehose of information all at once, while my normal response, is not the best way to communicate.

Over the next few posts I’ll share with you a number of developing initiatives I’ve started within a the larger conversation with many others around how we form communities of hope when, increasingly, we find ourselves in a place we’ve never been before. Three of these initiatives are:

The Commons:

Leaving Egypt: A new podcast in Substack:

The Leaders Table: A 4-session series around questions of where we are and how we lead

Leading in a New Era: a new book co-written with Roy Searle (UK)

In this post I share our new FB page and emerging web-site The Commons

Almost three years ago amidst crisis of the COVID epidemic it became clear we were entering a new space. No one was prepared for what the pandemic would bring. We witnessed a lot of death as medical and governmental systems struggled with something impossible to prepare for. We rediscovered our common dependence on workers we’d taken for granted or simply didn’t see in our everyday lives – those picking up our garbage, the people serving us in grocery stores, nurses and cleaners and orderlies. They became, for a while, our heroes as we turned in behind closed doors and our kids had to shut down their lives in a pervasive lockdown world.

Churches and clergy were disoriented. What were they to do in a world where gathering together became the new “sin”? Congregations turned to online meetings. Clergy attention turned to producing weekly church services via video link. A world emerged in which churches and their clergy looked for ways of doing the same things in differently. A new rhythm emerged that gave clergy a focus and a meaning in a time when identities were precarious.

The Missional Commons was started as a conversation space for leaders as we struggled to make sense of this new situation. We sponsored webinars, wrote essays, did interviews and cultivated conversations. Almost 1000 of you joined, participated and posted. We were all trying to make sense of being the church in a place we’d never been before.

Then, about a year ago, COVID’s immediate threats began to recede after mass vaccinations and a developing herd immunity. Church leaders and congregations looked toward returning to the status quo ante bellum. But, as we now all know, there wasn’t going to be a “returning”. There was to be no going back to Jerusalem or the “Temple”. We felt deep down that things had shifted. Gnawing concerns that, before COVID, we could push away, now confronted and disoriented us. A great unraveling had returned with a vengeance. We are all in a place we’ve never been before even though some can still produce a good version of the old ways adorned with a groovy sense of contemprarienity.

At the same time, it became clear that the missional project was dead. It had been, for a long time, just another way of addressing the question: How do we fix the church? But questions of fixing, or making relevant to seekers and happy pagans, just seem limp and out of sync with the unraveling (the disintegration).

The existential question before churches and their leaders is: How is the Spirit calling us to form communities of hope in a place we’ve never been before? I want to be part of inviting a community of people to join us in exploring this question together.

The Commons Network is a response to this desire. It is one of a number of initiatives we’re beginning to explore this question. We’ve closed the Missional Commons and invite you to join us at The Commons Network:

Join us as we start to build the connects and conversations.

More to come.

Al Roxburgh