MISSIONAL & A Holistic Definition of Missio Dei According to Its Origin

“An Abbreviated Introduction to the Concept of Missio Dei” by Greg McKinzie, Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis, Aug. 2010, pp. 10-11.

“Mission is ultimately God’s affair.”3  The expression of this fact in terms of “missio Dei” seems especially shaped by the theology of Karl Barth, who first revived the trinitarian idea of missio in 1932.4 In addition, the preliminary report from the U.S. study group hinged upon the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, the statement that ultimately distills the conference findings reads:

The missionary movement of which we are a part has its source in the Triune God Himself. Out of the depths of His love for us, the Father has sent forth His own beloved Son to reconcile all things to Himself. . . . On the foundation of this accomplished work God has sent forth His Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. . . . We who have been chosen in Christ . . . are by these very facts committed to full participation in His redeeming mission to the world. There is no participation in Christ without participation in His mission to the world. That by which the Church receives its existence is that by which it is also given its world-mission. “As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”5

It was another document, written by Karl Hartenstein after the conference, that utilized the Latin phrase missio Dei in order to summarize the fundamental idea conveyed by the conference findings:

Mission is not just the conversion of the individual, nor just obedience to the word of the Lord, nor just the obligation to gather the church. It is the taking part in the sending of the Son, the missio Dei, with the holistic aim of establishing Christ’s rule over all redeemed creation.6

Hartenstein clearly wrote from a traditionalist perspective, though his terminology would also be co-opted by the humanist camp in order to signify an idea of mission exclusive of the church’s “taking part” in God’s movement toward the world. Yet, we may note that the dispute was not simply between those who advocated a “social gospel” and those who did not. The “holistic” notion of a kingdom over “all redeemed creation” was integral to the traditionalist view, which made room also for individual conversion, obedience to the word, and the gathering of the church. The issue remained, implicitly at least, one of eschatology and its implications for the church’s instrumentality. That is to say, a critical dialog between eschatology and ecclesiology had begun.7


3 Wolfgang Günther, “The History and Significance of the World Mission Conferences in the 20th Century,”
International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 529.

4 Wilhelm Richebächer, “Missio Dei: The Basis of Mission Theology or a Wrong Path?” International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 590.

5 Michael Kinnamon and Brian E. Cope, The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 339-40.theol

6 Quoted in Tormod Engelsviken, “Missio Dei: The Understanding and Misunderstanding of a Theological Concept in European Churches and Missiology,” International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 482.

7 Tiina Ahonen, “Antedating Missional Church: David Bosch’s Views on the Missionary Nature of the Church and on the Missionary Structure of the Congregation,” Swedish Missiological Themes 92, no. 4 (2004): 576-77.

The full article is available here: article-abbrv-intro-to-missio-dei.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

MISSIO DEI & A Holistic Definition

The missio Dei is God’s mission to reintroduce himself and restore fellowship with his wayward offspring. – Whitesel

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 2011.

Because the millennial leader is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need as well as the multifaceted challenges of leadership … the millennial leader knows she or he needs help beyond what humans can provide. The emerging leader seeks divine stamina, insight, power, travel companions and even miracles to accomplish the task. But what exactly is this divine and enormous task? It can be summed up in the Latin: missio Dei, the mission of God.[i]

The missio Dei is God’s mission to reintroduce himself and restore fellowship with his wayward offspring. It emphasizes that “mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God.”[ii] John Flett explains, “the Father sent his Son and Spirit into the word, and this act reveals his ‘sending’ being. He remains active today in reconciling the world to himself and sends his community to participate in the mission.”[iii] William Willimon concludes,

“It is the nature of this God to reach out … A chief defining content of this good news of God (1 Thess. 2:1, 8, 9; Rom. 1:1) is this sort of relentless reach. This God has a gregarious determination to draw all things unto God’s self (John 12:23) … The church exists not for itself, but rather to sign, signal , and embody God’s intentions for the whole world. God is going to get back what belongs to God. God’s primary means of accomplishing this is through the church.”[iv]

Specifically because the missio Dei is God’s work, it is presumptuous and incorrect to say humans have this mission. Only God has such a grand mission, because only he can accomplish it. Yet he enlists human participation in the task, as Jesus emphasizes, “My food … is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Thus, it is best to say humans “participate” in the missio Dei, assisting God as he calls and equips us for his extraordinary task.

Therefore, because of the magnitude of the mission and because of whose mission it is (God’s), a “theta” (Q) will be this chapter’s icon. Q is the first letter of the Greek word for God (theos) and can be created by adding a “dash” to the middle of the “O.” Though subsequent chapters will have only one meaning each, this chapter’s symbol (Q) is a completion of the Chapter 1 icon: “O.” This is because an understanding and solidarity with the needs of others will drive a person to God, for only God can supply the strength needed for the task. Millennial leaders are recognizing that without divine intervention, she or he will be able to meet tomorrow’s burgeoning needs. This is not to say that humans create God to help them with their needs, but rather that God has placed in his creation a divine spark of compassion, and when that spark begins to grow the leader recognizes that only in their creator will they find the source and power behind that flame.

[i] Missio Dei was first used in this sense by missiologist Karl Hartenstein to describe God’s mission in contrast to Karl Barth’s emphasis upon God’s action (the actio Dei). For an overview of these terms, their history and their implication for the millennial leader see John Flett’s The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010).

[ii] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 19910, p. 390.

[iii] John G. Flett, The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community, p. 5.

[iv] William H. Willimon, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), pp. 239-240.

Excerpted from ©Bob Whitesel, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Abingdon Press, 2011), pp. 9-10.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

MISSION & The Church’s ‘Big Story’ According to #NTWright

What is the church’s mission? According to N. T. Wright (in his important book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels) it is the following:

“Our ‘big story’ is not a power story. It isn’t designed to gain money, sex or power for ourselves, though those temptations will always lie close at hand. It is a love story – God’s love story, operating through Jesus and then, by the Spirit, through Jesus’ followers.”

N. T. Wright in his important book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), p. 10

VISION & A Better Way to Define Your Organization (Used By McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Apple)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: A lesson from the Inc. Magazine article (linked below) is that you should define your organization by “capabilities,” not by your “products.” Products (e.g. services that you produce) will change. This is also true with churches.

For churches our unique “capability” is to help people connect with God. We do this by producing many types of “services.” But churches often become overly focused on these “services” rather than the unique supernatural “capability” they possess.

Therefore though they are important, churches should be overly focused around
– the latest children’s programs,
– trends in music,
– preaching styles,
– or even beautiful facilities.

But rather by the “capability” of helping people connect to their loving heavenly Father.

You can tell if you’re succeeding at this by asking people in your community.

Do they primarily know you as the church with the good children’s program, good preaching, a nice facility or something else? If so, then you’re known by your “services” and not your “capabilities.”

But if the people the community know you primarily as a place that “connects people to God,” then you are known by your capabilities.

To reconnect people with their loving heavenly Father is the essence of the missio Dei (see ORGANIX the first chapter for a holistuc explanation of the missio Dei).

Again the lesson here is to not allow our churches to be defined by the “contemporary things” we produce but rather by the “supernatural capability” churches have to connect people with God.

Read this interesting article to give you examples of the above for sermons and leadership development

Read more at ,,, http://www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/mcdonalds-distribution-strategy.html

PREVENIENT GRACE & How the Missio Dei Relates to It

4 Ways Prevenient Grace Relates to the Missio Dei, by , February 27, 2014, via @OfficialSeedbed

The Missio Dei as expressed in the current “missional” conversation: To re-discover that God is at work (and has been at work all along) reshapes our understanding of both individual and corporate purpose—our calling and our ecclesiology. “It’s not that the church has a mission, but rather that the mission has a church. We join Jesus on His mission.” (Ed Stetzer, paraphrasing Moltmann)

This realization of God “already at work” tends to expand my limited understanding of prevenient grace. (John Wesley did not invent prevenient grace, by the way. God had already injected it into the realm of ideas. There is a great irony here if you’re willing to dig for it).  Considering prevenience and mission as intertwined and inseparable brings four implications to mind:

  1. From Initiating to Noticing
  2. From Aspiration to Revelation
  3. From Persuasion to Partnership
  4. From Assimilating to Sending

For more, read … http://seedbed.com/feed/4-ways-prevenient-grace-relates-missio-dei/