Guest post from church planting strategist Matt Maestas.
Being someone who cares deeply, not only for the Missional conversation, but also for the necessity of Biblical preaching, I was uniquely interested when my good friend and mentor Brad Brisco asked me to read and respond to a new book by Al Tizon entitled Missional Preaching. However, I must admit at first glance the idea of a whole work on missional preaching was initially a non-starter.
We don’t have to look very far in the current Christian publishing landscape to see examples of authors or publishing houses slapping the term “missional” on a book or curicculum in some surreptitious hope of selling more copies, without fully understanding, or having much care for, the nuance and weight the term carries. While the term, missional happens, for some, to be nothing more than the latest buzz word, for Tizon it is clearly much more!
Missional Preaching is divided into two parts with the first discussing in great detail the "Essentials of Missional Preaching" and the second, the "Goals of Missional Preaching." If one was looking for nothing more than a good primer on the missional conversation they couldn’t do much better than the introduction and first chapter of the book. Just a taste…
To be missional means to join God’s mission to transform the world, as the church strives in the Spirit to be authentically relational, intellectually and theologically grounded, culturally and socioeconomically diverse and radically committed to both God and neighbor, especially the poor.
While each chapter really merits its own attention, two chapters in particular gripped me. In his chapter entitled "Preaching for Inculturation" Tizon writes,
The proclivity of U.S. Christians to create their own subculture within the larger culture-ie., interacting primarily with one another, making friends primarily among themselves, patronizing only Christian businesses, listening to only Christian music and developing their own ‘Christian-ese’ is its own North American vision of the ‘mission compound.
Tizon uses the word “inculturation”, originally used by Catholic missiologists, to describe the combination of enculturation with incarnation and its impact on how it is we go about this life. The chapter goes on to detail the characteristics of the Inculturated life, namely;
- Real Relationships with Real People
- Cultural and Political Participation
- Knowledge of Community History
- Identification with the Poor and Marginalized
- Love for Culture
In this way, ‘Missional Preaching’ reads much more like a handbook on missional engagement than an homiletical text, and for that I am incredibly great-full.
Similarly, his chapter on "Preaching the Scandal of Jesus" did not disappoint. Acknowledging the tension that exists when we seek to engage graciously with those outside faith while at the same time remaining faithful to the Gospel, Tizon writes;
True ecumenism acknowledges and appreciates the rich diversity of the world’s religions but encourages people of different faiths to be who they are so that genuine dialogue can occur. Far from avoiding differences that may offend, true ecumenism cultivates a sacred space where people of different faiths can intensely, passionately, and respectfully listen to and share their heartfelt convictions with one another. In this light, Christians should bring to the ecumenical round table nothing less than the beliefs and practices of authentic biblical Christianity.
In the conclusion the writer finally comes clean by confessing, “in truth I set forth to write nothing less than a theology of mission, but one with preachers in mind…[for] the study of mission must not be relegated to seminary halls and libraries alone. It must ultimately grab hold of pastors in the trenches who in turn inspire the people of God under their care to engage the world in mission.”
To this end, Tizon has succeeded, by providing a work that is simultaneously educational, engaging and practical. If you are looking for a work that will help you begin or continue to think about how to shape your people in missional thinking and practice, through the work of preaching, do yourself a favor and pick this up!