THEOLOGY & Missional theology must examine our practices to see if they are consistent with the gospel. Thus, it is critical but also constructive: it seeks to make sense of the gospel in each cultural context. #ScotMcKnight

“How Missional Theology De-Stabilizes – Missional theology de-stabilizes what many think is transnormative theology” by Scot McKnight, Christianity Today, 12/22/29.

… One way of doing theology is to frame theology by the Creed. So one takes the Apostles’ Creed or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (the official name for the Nicene Creed) and fills in the lines and blanks with more theological reflection. Thus, Calvin’s Institutes.

Another way of doing theology is to frame theology by Topics. So one lists the major topics in some order: God, Humans, Christ, Sin, Salvation, Ecclesiology, Eschatology. Then one maps each of these topics.

Another way of doing theology is “nothing but Bible, baby, nothing but the Bible.” The Bible is our only Creed kind of people. No one actually does this, so I’ll drop it. Why? Because everyone’s theology is shaped by one’s past, one’s community, one’s previous learnings.

Which is why many are attracted to the newest kid on the block, missional theology. Here are the major ideas of missional theology as theology, as outlined by John Franke in his new book Missional Theology: An Introduction.

The nature of missional theology: an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline

The first order of theology is the Scripture’s narrative. First order theology is Bible. Second order theology is constructions more or less rooted in Scripture.

But missional theology then is always contextually located. It is local, it is not universal. It is temporal, not eternal.

The aim is to be open to the culture to see how the gospel speaks in that culture. As Paul challenged Peter’s practice of the faith in Galatians 2, so missional theology must examine our practices to see if they are consistent with the gospel. Thus, it is critical but also constructive: it seeks to make sense of the gospel in each cultural context.

The purpose of missional theology: assisting the community of Christ’s followers in their missional vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/december/how-missional-theology-de-stabilizes.html

MISSIONAL & Patterns of missional faithfulness and how do you measure them? #4Metrics

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/30/18.

In my workshops, seminars and courses we discuss what participating in the missio Dei looks like. Here are eight patterns of the missional faithfulness from Barrett’s helpful book.

In the following two diagrams are metrics the apostle Luke employs in Acts 2:42-48 which can help churches evaluate their participation.

69F634CE-4EF7-4E32-9002-D59EDDFC5261

E084C3E9-C05D-45A9-98B9-957B30B2F145641A71FB-5462-4A5F-89C5-91F9FA57D0EB

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

KINGDOM & McKnight + Stroope on “Why Do Christians Speak of ‘Mission’?”

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 4/7/17.

Michael Stroope has a full scale analysis of the Christian usage of the term “mission” and terms associated with it, like “missionary” and now today the very happy, fuzzy term “missional.”

His study is called Transcending Mission... The big book has three essential points:

(1) to figure out why the Bible has so little use of the language of mission, and never does “mission” occur,  and then,

(2) to examine where we picked up this term “mission.” 

(3) His third point? Get rid of mission language and reframe our calling with kingdom language.

He contends the term enters the Christian vocabulary through pilgrimage traditions that soon become colonialism and imperialism and territorial conquests. He locates some of it in the Jesuits and esp in the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference.

Instead of mission language, Stroope proposes “kingdom” language. Ah, kingdom, but what does kingdom mean? (That’s what I’m asking as I’m reading him. I have my Kingdom Conspiracy in mind of course.)

Mission is contested language that requires continual promotion, defense, and revision, as this vocabulary is supplied language to the Christian tradition. When mission ascends to the status of sacred language, it can eclipse the kingdom and thus limit our view of Gods reign and muddle our ability to participate in his kingdom. The language of the reign of God, on the other hand, expresses an abiding theme throughout the Bible that culminates in the message of Jesus. When discovered and embraced, God’s reign forms us into pilgrim witnesses, who, though weak and afflicted, are liberated to live alongside and love those we encounter along the way. 358

He contends “kingdom” reorients us to be witnesses and pilgrims of the kingdom. His view of kingdom is largely that of GE Ladd with some NT Wright.

As language enters vocabulary, integrates with thought, and becomes the content of communication, it changes the way one sees God, it shapes identity, and it determines actions. Kingdom language prompts those who follow Christ to live as pilgrims who give witness to the coming reign of God. They are not called missionaries, and their life purpose is not named as mission. To supplant the structures of thought expressed in Scripture with the language of a modern tradition is to underestimate the power of God’s kingdom to change the world through witnesses and pilgrims. 376

Kingdom language is the better choice of language, because it is rooted in revelation, includes all types of believers, prioritizes formation of life, expands possibilities, underscores the place of the church, liberates from Christendom assumptions, and points to the Spirit’s work. 376

What of the church?

Kingdom language recognizes the place of the community of faith in the activity of God. Some view the church as the problem or an impediment, so they advocate a “kingdom orientation” rather than a “church orientation,” as if we must choose between the two. For sure, the church is not the kingdom of God, but the church, as the body of Christ, exists in the world to speak and embody kingdom values. As a community of people being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the church is able to witness to Christ’s teaching, life, and death. By the very fact that people surrender personal desires and their agenda to live alongside others, they offer a counterwitness to the pervasive individualism of modern life.

The themes of my Kingdom Conspiracy are God/Jesus as king, the king’s rule by way of redemption and governing, the people of Israel and the church who are the redeemed/governed people, the king’s instructions/law and the king’s location and sacred space. The above paragraph could have been expanded to see even more vitality to the relationship of kingdom and church and actually support most of what he is saying.

As for replacing “mission” with “kingdom”? I’m for far more stringent and rigorous biblical theology, which Stroope is doing. He’s right on the history of the term “mission” being something that has taken over, though some of what is meant by “mission” surely is involved in “kingdom” so that I’m not sure I’d make as big a difference. However, he’s right when speaks to the framing issue: which term we use matters immensely, and kingdom is the term to use.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/07/christians-speak-mission/

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

Footnotes:

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

MISSIONAL PASSION & The Missional Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs #WorldChangers

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The above quote is by Apple founder Steve Jobs, cited in one of the most important leadership articles of the year. Jobs’ leadership skill was his ability to focus narrowly on a mission that would change the world according to this Harvard Business Review article. Christians have a similar world changing mission and opportunity. Though he was rough around the edges, Job’s laser-like ability to focus on mission and passion while instilling this in others is a leadership lesson the church needs to recover.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2012/04/the-real-leadership-lessons-of-steve-jobs

MISSIONAL & Are You a Mission Station or a Missional Community? #DonaldMcGavran

by Bob Whitesel, 3/17/15. 

Missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran often criticized the “mission station approach” to missions. Still, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term it doesn’t sound so bad. But a little history about the term and how it was abused can help us be more effective in helping others today.

The “mission station approach” to outreach became a fairly common term to describe how in mission work, a foreign entity (like the Lutheran Church of Germany for example) would set up “mission stations” (such as in South Africa) to reach indigenous peoples.  

The mission station was a little enclave, sort of a transplanted European walled-city, that would provide a microcosm of European Christian culture amid the indigenous peoples of the mission field.  The language in the mission station was the language of the missionaries, and the culture was as well.  The missionaries at the mission station expected the indigenous peoples to come “into” the mission station, learn a European language, dress in European clothes, be taught about Christian culture and accept Jesus.  Needless to say, this was terribly ineffectual.

However, it was not until the great missionary awakening that people like William B. Carrey, Albert Schweitzer, and others popularized the more effective contextualization approach. They argued that you “sift” or evaluate culture, rejecting some elements that are anti-Christ and accept other elements that are morally neutral (see Charles Kraft’s “Christianity and Culture” and Lesslie Newbigin’s “Christ and Culture” for an extended … 300+ page… discussion on this).

A colleague of mine, Dr. Ryan Bolger pointed out in a white paper to the American Society of Church Growth (2002) that today most churches have become “mission stations” in North America: we speak a different language, live a different culture and we expect the unchurched people to come “into” our mission stations and adopt our culture.  This is why Darrel Guder in “Missional Church” (1998) points out that in North America we live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity … thus effectively making churches in North America missionary organizations.  (Guder’s book is an excellent introduction to the missional church … it is a modern contextualization of classic Church Growth principles.  And, it is the most highly regarded book outside of the Bible by emerging post-modern church leaders.)

Thus, I think it strategically judicious to embrace the life of missionaries in the North American context (doing so while embracing strategies that are effectual and successful in missiological experience and contexts).

MISSIONAL & A quote from Walt Disney

Commentary for Dr. Whitesel: “For the first time since my wife and I were in our early 20s, we visited Disneyworld without children in tow. We discovered a wonderfully relaxing place where employees truly want guests to experience happiness and joy. This desire to know people’s needs and put them ahead of organizational needs has been called ‘altruism.’ And it is also part of a missional philosophy: to look to others needs and design ministries for them – rather than design ministry for the church’s needs. Here is a quote of Walt that summed this up nicely.”

Missional quote from Walt Disney: “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what people want and you build it for them.”

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/disneyinstitute/james/leadership-lessons-from-walt-customer-exp.html

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

DISCIPLESHIP: Why the Missional Church Will Fail w/o Greater Emphasis on Discipleship

image33

 

Why the Missional Church Will Fail

by Mike Breen, ChurchLeaders.com

“So what is the engine of the church? Discipleship.

I’ve said it many times: If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.

If you’re good at making disciples, you’ll get more leaders than you’ll know what to do with. If you make disciples like Jesus made them, you’ll see people come to faith who didn’t know Him.

If you disciple people well, you will always get the missional thing. Always.

We took 30 days and examined the Twitter conversations happening. We discovered there are between 100-150 times as many people talking about mission as there are discipleship (to be clear, that’s a 100:1).

We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea of how to be with the King…”

Read more at … http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/154332-mike-breen-why-the-missional-movement-will-fail.html#.Ux1GQFRnR-k.email

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/