Freedom to Fail (What Does Missional Mean?, Week 4) June 14 2017, 0 Comments

 Freedom to Fail 
What Does Missional Mean?, Week 4


June 14th, 2017
by Andrea Lingle

Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.
How often have we read those words of Jesus with a bit of a self-righteous—I would never?
How often have we examined our lives for ways we deny Jesus?
How often have we crowed in accusation, demanding that a betrayal, denial, disappointment be brought to light?
But how often have we wondered if Peter’s failure in the garden was the moment that enabled his ministry after Pentecost?
To be missionally wise, a person must listen deeply to the world, act authentically with his or her neighbors, and be willing to be constantly reflective. Sometimes even well-intentioned efforts will be failures. Sometimes you will listen deeply to your community, design a project, begin the work, and realize, at some point, the energy has gone.
People don’t show up.
The prayer turns to gossip.
You don’t ever light the candle.
The Christian story is a story of failure. Adam and Eve, distrusting God’s love, chose to take matters into their own hands. Abraham, distrusting God’s promise, used a woman and discarded her. Peter, distrusting God’s means, denied his closest friend.
The Holy Spirit must keep pointing us to Jesus, keep filling us with her faith that love wins. She must gift us, call forth from us more courage, integrity, and perseverance than we knew we had. She must heal us of our bigotry, lead us into all truth, turn our failures and mistakes into wisdom. None of us can love as Jesus loves unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And this requires a day by day opening of ourselves to the love of God. It means we have to be born again, born of the Spirit. It means we have to live in a contemplative stance.
To be a contemplative is to show up, pay attention, cooperate with God, and release the outcome. It is an orientation that is both inward and outward, one that is both cause and result of an increasing integration and wholeness within.
Failure feels terrible—often a person’s greatest fear.
But what is on the other side of failure? For Peter it was reconciliation. On a beach over grilled fish, Jesus taught Peter, and generations of gospel readers, that love is not broken by failure.
Do you love me? Feed my sheep.
Do you love me? Feed my sheep.
Do you love me? Feed my sheep.
And I ask you, do you love? The go out, willing to fail, and be fully where you are so that you can see the hunger, terror, nakedness, and peril that is all around you.


Elaine A Heath and Larry Duggins, Missional. Monastic. Mainline. (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014)

Scripture references: John 18 and 21

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • How have you failed?
  • What can you do with your failure?
  • How does the contemplative stance inform your experience of failure?

Our Voices:
We asked what Missional meant to you. If you would like to share your definition of Missional, please take our survey. Here is one respondent's answer.

Missional is all about BE-ing; being in relationship to all others, being engaged with wherever God is at work, being Christ-like in our actions and interactions, being contemplative, being one who gives added value, and all within the context of our community.


Spotlight: The Equity Project
by Todd Porter

Todd Porter is a friend of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, who attends the Taize service lead by Larry Duggins each week.


“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” – Paul Batalden

That being the case, it seems that our economic is perfectly designed to multiply wealth for those who have it, while holding the promise of wealth just beyond the reach of those without. I find this reality troubling and find myself under increasing compulsion to do something about it. I call that something “The Equity Project.”

Redesigning the economic system so that it brings life to everyone in it is a tall order, though.  Instead, the goal of The Equity Project is to use the systems currently available (free-market economics, philanthropic investment, and community development) to break cycles of poverty and replace them with sustainable cycles of life. The centerpiece of this approach is the cooperative business structure, where employees themselves provide governance and ownership, aligning business decisions with the long-term interest of those within the business.

Cooperatives are common structures in certain niches in the US economy such as rural electric service providers, small-scale farming, and credit unions. Internationally, The Mondragon Corporation is one of the best examples available of taking cooperatives to a large scale.  Started in 1956, Mondragon currently generates annual revenues approaching 12 Billion € and employs a workforce in excess of 74,000 people, making it the 10th largest business group in Spain. 

On a smaller scale, and closer to home, the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio provide another remarkable example.  “The Cleveland model” relies on a partnership between philanthropy, local government, and “anchor institutions” to establish and grow businesses designed to provide employment and build wealth in underinvested neighborhoods.  So far, Evergreen has launched the following ventures:
  • Evergreen Cooperative Laundry – high-capacity, commercial laundry services in the Cleveland area
  • Evergreen Energy Solutions – turn-key energy efficiency improvements for residential and commercial buildings
  • Green City Growers – leafy-green produce for area food services, with the capacity to serve all food service providers in a 150 mile radius of Cleveland
Evergreen came to life when the City of Cleveland, and the city-focused Cleveland Foundation, assessed their efforts to address poverty and homelessness. They were not satisfied with the results and wanted to try something different.  They partnered with Ted Howard of Democracy Collaborative, to develop a grass-roots approach to economic development.[i]

In a recent conversation with Ted Howard, I learned that the inclusion of anchor institutions in the development process was one of the central innovations in the Cleveland model. University Hospitals, The Cleveland Clinic, and Case Western Reserve University formed the core group of institutional stakeholders for Evergreen and represent combined annual procurements of $392.8 Million.[ii] The idea was to provide a product or service that could effectively serve the need represented by some portion of that budget and, in the process, improve the lives of the people involved.

Seems like a fantastic plan if you’re in Cleveland. What about everywhere else? While I’ve shared a story from Cleveland, I’m willing to bet that somewhere near where you live we could find: 
  • Neighborhoods left behind by economic and commercial development
  • Place-based institutions with a long-term interest in the success of their surrounding community
  • People who want to work but struggle to find jobs near their homes
  • People born into poverty but desperate to break free of it
I’m willing to bet you might even have names and faces to go with those descriptions because, to my shame and dismay, those situations are everywhere.  I’d like to do something about that. Let’s work on it together!
[i] (The Evergreen Cooperative Corporation, 2016) The Evergreen Cooperative Corporation. (2016). About Us. Retrieved from Evergreen Cooperatives:
[ii] (Wright, Hexter, & Downer, 2016, p. 9) Wright, W., Hexter, K. W., & Downer, N. (2016). Cleveland’s Greater University Circle Initiative: An Anchor-Based Strategy for Change. Cleveland, OH: The Democracy Collaborative. Retrieved 05 10, 2017, from