Check out these two challenging and inspiring talks by Micheal Frost from the recent Upstream Collective Vision Tour in Prague.
Check out these two challenging and inspiring talks by Micheal Frost from the recent Upstream Collective Vision Tour in Prague.
View videos posted soon after each discussion led by Frost about “Church in a Broken World.” Then share you input and ask questions by commenting on this site or on the Upstream blog, as well as via Twitter (#js2011) and Facebook.
The following video clip with Michael Frost speaks to the importance of recognizing and participating in the reign of God in our local context. It is a very brief, yet good reminder of the importance of place in the missional conversation.
I am very excited that Michael will be joining us here in Kansas City in September along with a long list of other missional thinkers and practitioners for the Sentralize conference. A website will be up soon to describe all the details, but for now be sure to mark your calendars for September 29th to October 1st!
We will be hosting Neil Cole for a one day conference in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 23rd from 9:00am to 3:30pm. The conference will take place at Westside Family Church. The cost will be $29, which will include lunch.
Neil is an experienced church planter and pastor. He is the founder of the Awakening Chapels, and founder and executive director of Church Multiplication Associates. He is the author of several books including Church 3.0, Organic Church, Search and Rescue, as well as Organic Leadership, and Cultivating a Life for God.
You can register online by going here. If you have questions about the day you can leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not familiar with Neil, below is good video from the Verge conference last year where Neil is talking about the church as an organic system and the implications that has on discipleship and church planting.
Below are two very helpful videos presentations by Alan Hirsch from last year’s AND conference at Granger Community Church. The bulk of the first video is spent on the very important topic of cultural distance and the problem it creates for meaningful communication of the gospel. Building upon the cultural distance discussion, he then proceeds to examine the “missionary problem”, of having the majority of American churches attempting to reach the same population segment, that is 95% of churches in America are trying to reach the same 40% of the population.
This leads to what he refers to as the “strategic problem”, which recognizes that 60% of the population has no interest in identifying with the contemporary church that is represented by 95% of the churches. The last several minutes of the presentation is spent in a time of Q&A. When viewing the first video you may want to skip over the the opening song, as well as the goofy skit on the tension between missional and attractional that precedes Alan’s talk.
The second video deals with the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4. Alan argues that we will never create or sustain a movement until the church recaptures the role of the Apostle, Prophet and Evangelist.
In chapter 13 of The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission, Christopher Wright provides an excellent analysis on mission and the public square. Wright acknowledges that the mission of God’s people is far too big to be left only to “missionaries.”
Furthermore, most Christians live in the ordinary everyday world, “working, making a living, raising families, paying taxes, contributing to society and culture, getting along, doing their bit.” But in what sense is the life of believers living in the “ordinary” realm – what we call the public square – part of the mission of God’s people?
Is God interested in the public square? Many Christians seem to operate on the everyday assumption that God is not. Or at least, they assume that God is not interested in the world of everyday work for its own sake, as distinct from being interested in it as a context for evangelism. God, it would seem, cares about the church and its affairs, about missions and missionaries, about getting people to heaven, but not about how society and its public places are conducted on earth.
The result of such dichotomized thinking is an equally dichotomized Christian life. In fact it is a dichotomy that gives many Christians a great deal of inner discomfort caused by the glaring disconnect between what they think God most wants and what they most have to do. Many of us invest most of the available time that matters (our working lives) in a place and a task that we have been led to believe does not really matter much to God – the so-called secular world of work – while struggling to find opportunities to give some leftover time to the only thing we are told does matter to God – evangelism.
Dispersed throughout the chapter Wright offers four questions to readers on their view of work as part of God’s mission. The questions provide a great challenge not only of our view of vocation, but also how our work relates to, and affects the work of others in the public square.
The first question we need to ask those who seek to follow Jesus in the marketplace is: Do you see your work as nothing more than a necessary evil, or only as the context for evangelistic opportunities? Or do you see it as a means of glorifying God through participating in his purposes for creation and therefore having intrinsic value? How do you relate what you do in your daily work to the Bible’s teaching about human responsibility in creation and society?
The second question we need to ask of all those who seek to follow Jesus in the marketplace is this: Where, in all your activity, is the deliberate acknowledgment of, and submission to, the divine auditor? In what way does accountability to God impinge on your everyday work?
The third question we have to ask of those who follow Jesus in the marketplace is: How do you perceive the governance of God in the marketplace (which is another way of seeking the kingdom of God and his justice), and what difference does it make when you do? Is it really the case that “Heaven rules” on Sundays, but The Market rules from Monday to Friday?
A fourth question arises for the follower of Jesus in the marketplace: In what ways is your daily labour transformed by the knowledge that it is all contributing to that which God will one day redeem and include within his new creation?
Another way of framing missional theology is to understand mission as the concrete implication of the good news that God’s love for the creation results in God’s action to restore, heal, reconcile, and make new this rebellious creation. The event of Jesus Christ is the culmination of that action, and now, the salvation accomplished on the cross and ratified at Easter is to be made known to all people.
For that to happen, God continues the strategy of calling a particular people to be his witnesses, to make it known that God so loves the world that he has sent Jesus. The gospel of salvation generates the called and sent people, the ecclesia; mission, as Martin Kahler famously argued, is the mother of theology. God’s mission necessitates a missiological ecclesiology.
This understanding of missional church implies a radical revision of traditional ecclesiologies, which have, as I noted, largely neglected the central biblical theme of mission. The doctrinal challenge is to develop every theme and subtheme relating to the theology and practices of the church from the central and foundational understanding of the church’s missional vocation.
Whether we are discussing the church’s worship and liturgy, its structures and organizational forms, its practices and disciplines, or its ordered ministry, the thematic door by which we enter is the missional vocation of the church.
From Walking Worthily: Missional Leadership after Christendom by Darrell L. Guder
This is an excellent video of Tim Keller from the Cape Town 2010 Lausanne Congress. Keller contends there are two major ways to reach cities with the gospel; planting/renewing contextual churches and city-wide gospel movements. He does a great job in just 18 minutes to unpack each. You can also download a copy of the advance paper written by Keller that helps to lay a foundation for this session here: Tim Keller Lausanne Urban Mission paper
Below is another helpful video produced by Bill Kinnon that captures a discussion between David Fitch and Gary Nelson on the value of the word “missional.” I particularly like how Fitch highlights four themes that need to be maintained for the word to continue to be valuable. Those themes include: 1) Post Christendom as the defining cultural position of the church in the West, 2) The Incarnational Logic of the church, 3) The idea of Witness as the primary mode of communicating the gospel in a post Christendom context, and 4) The concept of Missio Dei.
Most readers of this blog are already aware of Fitch’s work, but might not be as familiar with Nelson. I became aware of Gary Nelson’s work in Canada a few months ago as I read his excellent book “Borderland Churches: A Congregation’s Introduction to Missional Living” upon the recommendation of Len Hjlmarson. You can also learn more about Nelson on Bill’s post here. Be sure to check out additional videos from Bill on the Missional Channel page on Vimeo.
Stuart Murray’s “Church Planting: Laying Foundations” is one of the finest books written on the topic of church planting. While the vast majority of books on church planting focus on the “how,” Murray offers a very welcome emphasis on both the theological and historical framework for church planting.
When discussing the theological foundation for church planting Murray argues that all church planters operate within some theological framework, but most often these frameworks “are assumed rather than articulated and adopted uncritically rather than as the result of reflection.” He also states that while inadequate theological reflection will not necessarily hinder short term growth, it will limit the long term impact of church planting and may result in “dangerous distortions in the way in which the mission of the church is understood.” He writes:
Church planting is not an end in itself, but one aspect of the mission of God in which churches are privileged to participate. We can understand the scope and implications of this mission, and the place of church planting within it, in relation to three important theological concepts.
Murray then elaborates on the topics of missio Dei, incarnation, and the Kingdom of God. In regards to the concept of missio Dei he shares these thoughts:
Missiologists have increasingly been drawn to this phrase to express the conviction that mission is not the invention, responsibility, or program of human beings, but flows from the character and purposes of God. Historically, the term mission was first used by theologians to refer to the acts of God, rather than the activities of the churches.
God is the Missionary, who sent his Son and sends his Spirit into the world, and whose missionary purposes are cosmic in scope, concerned with the restoration of all things, the establishment ofshalom, the renewal of creation, and the coming of the kingdom of God, as well as the redemption of fallen humanity and the building of the church. Mission has a trinitarian basis and is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. Mission is defined, directed, energized, and accomplished by God.
For church planting this has considerable significance. First, the inevitable interest in internal church structures which characterizes church planting initiatives, as plans are developed for the formation of a new congregation, must not subvert the primary focus on the mission to which this new church is being called. Missio Dei is toward the world rather than the church. Robert Warren writes: “A church effectively engaged in mission will see that participating in the missioDei will involve shifting emphasis from a focus on the life of the local church . . . to concern for the world in its need, joys and struggles.”
Second, the broad scope of missio Dei must not be reduced to evangelism or church planting. Church planting is legitimate only if set within a broader mission context. Divorced from this context, church planting may represent little more than ecclesiastical expansionism. (Can anyone say “video venues” – those are my words not Murray’s!)
Church planting can too easily embody a limited vision of mission that concentrates on one or two aspects of this mission (usually evangelism and church growth) to the neglect of other vital aspects (including working for justice and peace within society, concern for the environment, and engagement with culture).
The video below (produced/edited by Bill Kinnon) is an interesting conversation between Alan Roxbugh and Pat Keifert. They discuss a wide range of issues, including definitions/descriptions of missional church, common views of the contemporary church, and leadership in missional congregations.
In the discussion on leadership I appreciate Keifert’s emphasis on leadership being more about time than about a position. He speaks about the leader cultivating segments of time to assist the congregation in discerning what God is doing in their local context. It is about taking the time to create environments for people to dwell in the Word. It is about having the time to be patient — to hear from God and to hear from each other.
Another topic that I found interesting dealt with Keifert’s journey towards the missional church conversation. He shares how it involved both “failure” and “discovery.” The failure involved disenchantment with his own ministry experience in a traditional church. The discovery included the reading of Newbigin’s “Foolishness to the Greeks.”
I think Keifert’s journey parallels the experience of many. There is a deep sense of uneasiness, frustration, or even failure in a current ministry setting. Church leaders recognize something isn’t right about how they do ministry. They sense that something has changed, but they are unsure about the essence of the change, or what changes might be necessary. At some point, however, they “discover” that others have experienced the same anxiety. They “discover” authors that begin to give language to these changes. Perhaps, like Keifert its Newbigin, or Bosch; or more recently, maybe it is Guder, Van Gelder, Hirsch, or Frost. But regardless of the author, they rediscover the missionary nature of God and His church, and the reality that the church is sent into the mission field that is now North America.
This has certainly been my journey. I wonder about your experience. Has failure + discovery propelled you into the missional conversation?
“The gospel is the announcement that God has revealed his kingdom and opened it up to sinners through the birth, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will one day return to overthrow evil and consummate the kingdom for eternity.”
Later in a section titled “Underestimating the Mission” Dickson makes a helpful distinction between proclaiming the gospel and promoting the gospel.
I want to make a distinction throughout this book between the specific activity of proclaiming the gospel and the broader category of promoting the gospel. The former is properly called “evangelism,” a word that derives from the New Testament term evangelizomai, which only ever means “announcing (grand) news.” The wider category of promoting the gospel includes any and every activity that draws others to Christ (including, of course, evangelism). People sometimes use the words “mission,” “out-reach” or “witness” for this larger work, but I prefer the expression “promoting the gospel” (I’m sure I pinched this from someone else but I can’t remember from whom) because it reminds us that at the heart of our mission to the world is the news about Christ, the gospel. In my view, when “mission” becomes disconnected from the gospel, as it sadly does in some church circles, it no longer deserves to be called Christian mission.