The InnerCHANGE Voice is a bi-montly publication specifically for friends of InnerCHANGE. In this issue, we explore the "Three Currents" of InnerCHANGE.
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Dear Readers,

In this issue we will explore "The Three Currents" of InnerCHANGE, the Missionary Current, the Prophetic Current, and the Contemplative Current.


The Three Currents: Twenty Years On

By John B. Hayes, Founder and General Director of InnerCHANGE

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the development and articulation of the Three Currents (the Missionary, Prophetic, and Contemplative Currents described as overlapping and mutually sustaining circles).  I have been asked to share the history of the Three Currents, and I am conscious that I am working from memory and from the bits of evolution we recorded. My tendency will likely be to downsize complex processes into coherent and subjective narrative. I want to confess this up front.

However, memory can also enhance reliability. I often find that the big events in life cannot be fully lived and understood in the moment---seconds passing inexorably are simply not wide enough to encompass the full meaning of some of life’s experiences. We often experience big moments as “out of body” experiences that only gain articulate meaning in time, working backward in memory. The evolution of the Three Currents feels to me to fit into that category. At a time twenty years ago when missionaries working among the poor were experiencing high levels of burnout, we were excited as young InnerCHANGE members to have stumbled onto a new way of describing sustainable postures among the poor.  Ideally, the three currents diagram reminded us to begin in abiding inwardly in Christ, and in so doing, follow him outwardly into missionary and prophetic expressions of ministry. For many of us, this was a critical “a-ha” moment.

e were excited as young InnerCHANGE members to have stumbled onto a new way of describing sustainable postures among the poor." 


Summer, 1994: Prophetic and Missionary

For several months in the summer of 1994, I’d been ruminating over a way to understand the prophetic and missionary impulses in creative tension. After nearly ten years of collective ministry, InnerCHANGE’s “just do it” missionary impulse, largely fired out of the urgency of a mercy gifting on Santa Ana and San Francisco’s poorest streets, was increasingly being joined with a prophetic gifting alive to the “upside-down” kingdom of God and bent on addressing systemic injustice.

I was looking to validate both missional and prophetic impulses and affirm that they were better together---that in the ministry of Christ, justice and mercy mutually authenticated one another and enhanced ministry effectiveness. Today, perhaps, this articulation sounds simple and obvious, yet across Christendom in the late 80’s and 90’s, many ministries and NGO’s working to address poverty and oppression excelled in one and not the other, and were prepared to defend their positions. Too often, creative tension had become critical contention. Prophetic entities viewed missionaries actuated largely by mercy as non-strategic---urgently putting band-aids on open wounds requiring surgery. Missionaries who excelled in a Mother-Teresa style care for the poor faulted prophets for not being hands-on or authentically relational enough---willing to stand up for the poor, but not stand with them.

Moreover, I did not have to look outward to see this contention between expressions of justice and mercy. I could see it inside myself. I identified with a restless perfectionism as a prophet that claimed no effort was ever good enough. And I identified with a mercy frustration that suggested no one was ever doing enough.


The Good Samaritan

As so often in the early days, I felt we needed a biblical “script” both to operate as an underlying narrative and as a plumb line for our work. For years, I had been meditating on the strategic implications of the Good Samaritan parable. I’d often described InnerCHANGE incarnational ministry as a sequence of three stages beginning with getting down off our donkeys in face-to-face encounters with people in poverty. Next, we endeavoured to help neighbors get all the way to the inn---that is, experience the love of Christ and holistically grow into disciples that would thrive in a church community (the inn). Thirdly, as Samaritans called to midwife this transformational process, we needed to appraise the inn, (local churches), as places our neighbors could thrive.  

Over the summer of 1994, I reflected further on the parable of the Good Samaritan and the missional sequence of getting down from the donkey, assisting people all the way to the inn, and finally helping people into appropriate inns. As I reflected on that story, it seemed to me that if we were going to work for transformation in a lasting sense, we’d somehow, someday, in some way need to tackle the systemic issues that kept destroying the lives of our neighbors and leaving them wounded on the road. The Good Samaritan parable seemed to offer a framework for appreciating this prophetic expression of ministry as a fourth stage.

At the InnerCHANGE conference that fall, I shared the Good Samaritan parable in four stages, and then excitedly introduced the two-circle diagram of the missionary and prophetic as overlapping expressions of vital transformation in poor communities.


Fall, 1994: Contemplative

About a month later, in a spontaneous conversation between two of our members, John Shorack & Nate Bacon, the idea of the contemplative current surfaced. Nate & John passionately expressed that ideally, we’d source our missional and prophetic actions in the intimacy of abiding in Christ. It seemed to be the missing piece that pulled our framework together.  The word, “abiding,” opened the gate to match the Three Currents to Micah 6:8---a verse that had been core to our understanding of collective identity. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

I am not sure why three currents seemed to feel complete to us. But it did, immediately. Likely three currents felt complete because of Micah 6:8. Perhaps we intuited that most other orders organized around three conceptual themes: poverty, chastity, and obedience. However the Three Currents became history, we were unanimous in sensing we’d been visited by the Lord.


The Three Currents Film

Filmed in Guatemala, Miami, and South Africa, this film explores what it means to live out these currents in the context of our neighborhoods.

The Broken Bench

by Samantha Baker-Evens

The smell of sun-warmed metal
in the chill spring air
is a promise.
I shift my weight on the broken bench
and wrestle with the noises of the morning,
finish half-finished conversations,
contemplate the sticky puddle at the other end of the bench,
and my shoes,
and remind myself to schedule the dentist,
and finally,
struggle to remember the Words you said
when you were in the noise too,
and to hear your word for today,
to draw this moment through my fingers,
a single thread,
to give me strength
to rush headlong
back to the tragedies and victories of fragile lives
and be present there.
A restless moment on a broken bench
lest I weep
or worse
lest I forget how to weep.

Contemplative Reflections

by Jessica Martin

Art and creativity have been an overflow of contemplation for me. It has been a helpful way for me to illustrate what I feel like the Lord is speaking, leading, or revealing to me. I love the visual reminder of these moments with the Lord that serve as a marker of his nearness and love. 
Thank you for reading this edition of the InnerChange Voice. We're so glad to have you walking with us. We welcome your comments and questions. 
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