Following is a short video (produced and edited by Bill Kinnon) that recently “resurfaced” on the internet. It is an interview between Alan Roxburgh and Craig Van Gelder.
Van Gelder is professor of congregational mission at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is author of “The Essence of the Church,” “The Ministry of the Missional Church,” “The Missional Church in Context,” “The Missional Church and Denominations,” and editor of “Confident Witness — Changing World” and “The Church Between Gospel and Culture.” (All of which are excellent, but the last two are my favorites)
There are a couple of issues raised in this video I think are important to consider. First, I appreciate Van Gelder’s emphasis on the theological foundation of missional church. Like many others in the missional church conversation, Van Gelder sees the necessity to shift the starting point for any discussion on missional church to the topic of mission.
Instead of beginning with questions surrounding the mission activities of the church, we must start first with questions concerning the missio Dei, or what is God’s mission in our context. Or to use David Bosch’s famous quote, “It is not the church which undertakes mission; it is the missio Dei which constitutes the church.”
Second, this emphasis on participating with what God is doing raises the crucial issue of discernment. When we start with God’s mission it is imperative that we discern how He is working. We must ask, “What is God doing in my neighborhood, workplace, or school?” And the follow-up question, “In light of our gifts and resources, how does God want us to participate with Him?”