Fixity was a new concept to me when I first heard Carl George refer to it while discussing issues relating to the cell-based church some years ago. The issue was how to establish a new approach to small group ministry practice and organization in such a way that it sticks, that it continues, that it is not just a flash in the pan emphasis before going on the next program.
The fact is American pastors and congregations are often program junkies. We buy some one’s church program good for a semester or a year or two, and then we look for another one. The same thing happens in judicatories of denominations. In a way, serial programs give staff and other leaders a feeling they are doing something (and of course some such programs actually do make a difference).
Nevertheless, if a core concept for transformational ministry, such as small groups or ministry teams, that is not very common in traditional ministries is being implemented, it is easy for such a core concept to be the “program du jour,” to receive a lot of initial attention and "rah rah," but in a year or two become “something we did once.”
Understandably, most of our efforts are geared around the people, program, and policy management of our congregations that presently exist. So to preach (or hear) a few sermons on missional endeavor or to host a few workshops or conversations on the subject may make it the “topic of the month” and perhaps lead to some missional efforts. However, for a real and permanent transition to missional endeavor, a growing circle of leaders and participants within the organization must internalize and implement the practices of transformational vitality missional thinking. That’s fixity.
Fixity as a concept is congruent with that of momentum – that is the ability to keep on keeping one. Momentum can be a very positive force in the life of a church when it sustains a clear defining vision and defining practices. As the same time we know the value of agility, the ability to respond to changing conditions. Fluidity is another word for agility, the ease with which something can change.
When a leader and an organization have a fixity of defining vision and defining practices (or core values) and a fluidity of implementation and approach the result can be remarkably fruitful.
Some questions to consider:
How do we make core concepts and practices “stick?”
How do we “fix” them as permanent facets of our ministries?
Once we discern the vision and practices that define who we are, how will we preserve a fluidity of implementation that enables us to respond to opportunities and obstacles as they arise?
Joyfully - E. Stanley Ott