Dissecting our missional DNA (Jo Cox)

Jo Cox explores what makes us tick.

Confession time. I briefly investigated a career move into forensic science but was put off by the lengthy training and medical degree.

However that doesn't stop me from watching the addictive US drama series, CSI:Crime Scene Investigation. CSI centres on a team of forensic investigators in Las Vegas and is billed by Channel 5 as 'Sin never sleeps. Fast-paced forensics with the heroes of the Vegas crime lab'.

There is something compelling about the forensic lessons drawn from the team's search for evidence to determine the DNA of the true participants in the crime.

It reminds me that so often in a missional posture we spend so much of our time trying to collect the evidence of our existence that we can often forget the actual DNA of what we are doing. We expend all our energies on trying to get enough money, enough people, or enough permission – so much so that we neglect to stop and reflect on what makes us church in the first place.

Our evidence, our DNA, is people. Broken, chaotic, messy, glorious, beautiful, cracked, weird, disappointing, people. In the whole of the Church we are in the business of sharing stories, telling stories and making stories. But do we spend enough time telling Jesus stories too?

Our evidence, our DNA, is part of an ecclesial tradition. We may be bruised by it, or defined by it – but our very identity is passed to us and through us through tradition. Like it or loathe it, our responsibility is to connect with the tradition and traditions of the church – both structurally and liturgically.

Our evidence, our DNA, reflects part of our context. We may be trying to change it – but the very smell, taste, feel, noise, sight of our church experiments are DNA clones of not just the current Church, but the people we are reaching. It is not going to be pristine or perfect or always know when to sit down and stand up. 

Our evidence, our DNA, is poetic. It does not fit formulas or rules or standards. It is playful and provocative and calls forth a new world order of the kingdom.

Our evidence, our DNA, is characterfulness (some may call this virtue). It's the stuff of belly laughs and snorted tears. It's the stuff of patience and prayer and kindness and smiles. It's the empty cafetiere that none wants to clean. It's the chairs that need to be put away again. It's all that washing up and tidying up after the hordes have long gone home. 

Ultimately, if our church 'experiments', communities, congregations or groups do not enable people to notice something of grace and of Jesus, then all we are doing is offering false evidence. If we are not intentional about developing new forms of Church which have the DNA of the kingdom at its heart, then we are offering false hope to a church who trusts us to be faithful to our inheritance.

The Bible has a word for false evidence. Idolatry.

Let's make sure we are gathering the right evidence, the right DNA at the heart of who we are and what we do. Let's intend on the right things being at the heart of our work, worship and life.

I fear that, all too often, the current actual evidence may tell a slightly different story.