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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Guder, D.L (ed) (1998) Missional Church 

Guder, D.L (ed) (1998) Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America

A cracker.....

Add water and stir books point to a crisis , how to manuals, analysis of myriad crisrs with which the church is grappling…

The crises are certainly many and complex: diminishing numbers, clergy burnout, the loss of youth, the end of denominational loyalty, biblical illiteracy, divisions in the ranks, the electronic church and its various corruptions, the irrelevance of traditional forms of worship, the loss of genuine spirituality, and widespread confusion about both the purpose and the message of the church of jesus Christ. The typical North American response to our situation is to analyse the problem and find a solution. These solutions tend to be methodological. Arrange all the components of the church landscape differently, and many assume that the problem can be solved. Or use the best demographic or psychological or sociological insights, and one can redesign the church for success in our changing context. All it takes, it would seem, is money, talent, time, and commitment.

Pp 2

This ecclesiocentric understanding of mission has been replaced during this century by a profoundly theocentric reconceprualization of Christian mission. We have come to see that mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather, mission is the result of God's initiative, rooted in God's purposes to restore and heal creation. "Mission" means "sending," and it is the central biblical theme describing the purpose of God's action in human history. God's mission began with the call of Israel to receive God's blessings in order to be a blessing to the nations. God's mission unfolded in the history of God's people across the centuries recorded in Scripture, and it reached its revelatory climax in the incarnation of God's work of salvation in Jesus ministering, crucified, and resurrected. God's mission continued then in the sending of the Spirit to call forth and empower the church as the witness to God's good news in Jesus Christ. It continues today in the worldwide witness of churches in every culture to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it moves toward the promised consummation of God's salvation in the eschaton ("last" or "final day").


Mission [is] understood as being derived from the very nature of God. It [is] thus put in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, not of ecclesiology or soteriology. The classical doctrine of the misslo Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit [is] expanded to include yet another "movement": Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world.3

This trinitarian point of entry into our theology of the church necessarily shifts all the accents in our ecclesiology. As it leads us to see the church as the instrument of God's mission, it also forces us to recognize the ways in which the Western church has tended to shape and fit the gospel into its cultural context and made the church's institutional extension and survival its priority. Pp5

Either we are defined by mission, or we reduce ther scope of the gospel and the mandate of the church. Thus our challenge today is to move from church with mission to missional church pp6

Hunsberger and guder Church between gospel and culture

The church bears a marked resemblenmce to the ioncarnarion of JC who being God was equally real human flesh and life. It is no accident that the church is called the ‘body of christ’. Itcontinues as an incarnate expression of the life of God. But no less than for Jesus, this expression means that the church always takes particular form, shaped according to the cultural and historical context in which it lives


Two things have become quite clear to those who care about the church and its mission. On one hand , the churches have been dislocated from their prior social role of chaplain to the culture and society and have lost their once privilege positions of influence. Pp78

Church is conceieved as the place where a christianised civilization gathers for worship, and the place where the christian character of the society is cultivated - leads to a ecclesiocentric view of mission. Pp80

Moltmann "The historiacl church must be called apostolic in a double sense: its gospel and its doctrine are founded on the testimony of teh first apostles, the eyewitnesses of teh risen Christ, and it exists in the carrying out of thet apostolic proclamation, the missionary charge. The expression 'apostolic' therefore denotes both the church's foundation and its mission (1977)

The central aspect of the teaching of Jesus was that concerning the Kingdom of God. Of this there can be no doubt....Jesus appeared as one who proclaimed the Kingdom of God; all else in his message and ministry serves a function in relation to that proclamation and derives its meaning from it. The challenge to discipleship, the ethical teaching, the disputes about oral tradition or ceremonial law, even the pronouncement of forgiveness of sins and the welcoming of the outcast in the name of God - all these are to be understood in the context of the Kingdom proclamation or they are not to be understood at all (Perrin 1967:54) pp89

What is this reign of God? OT prophetic forecasts envision a world characterised by peace, justice and celebration. Shalom the overarching vision of the future means 'peace' but not merely peace as the cessation of hostilities. Instead shalom envisions the full prosperity of a people of God living under the covenant of God's demanding care and compassionate rule. IN prophetic vision, peace such as this comes hand in hand with justice. Without justice there can be no real peace and without peace no real justice. Indeed, only in a social world full of a peace grounded in justice can there come the full expression of joy and celebration.


This central affirmation of good news has suffered a pattern of omission or 'eclipse'. Two tendencies help explain. First the church tended to separate the news of the reign of god from Gods provision for humanity's salvation. This separation has made salvation a private event by dividing 'my personal salvation' from the advent of god's healing reign over all the world.

Loss of focus, the loss of what lies at the centre, the loss of soul, identity has far reaching consequences. Regaining the focus and Evangelism moves from being an act of recruiting or co-opting those outside the church to an invitation of companionship. Pp 97

Jesus mission represents the most direct and complete expression of God's mission in the world. Therefore the church's own mission must take its cues from the way God's mission unfolded in the sending of Jesus into the world for its salvation. In Jesus' way of carrying out God's mission, we discover that the church is o represent God's reign as its community, its servant an its messenger pp 102

Before the church is called to do or say anything, it is called and sent to be the unique community of those who live under the reign of God. The church displays the firstfruits of the forgiven and forgiving people of God who are brought together across the rubble of dividing walls that have crumbled under the weight of the cross. It is the harbinger of the new humanity that lives in genuine community, a form of companionship and wholeness that humanity craves. 103

The church carries Jesus' mantle as the people of God "under authority." Our responses of compassion and service, like our actions for peace and justice, are deeds of authority and therefore signs that the reign of God is present now in our world and is on the way as its future. 106

Missional communities are called to represent the compassion, justice, and peace of the reign of God.

The community forming activity of the Holy Spirit challenges us to move beyond the contemporary assumption that the Spirit’s actions centre exclusively, or even primarily, on the individual soul 143

At Pentecost, with the outpouring of the Holy Sprit, promise becomes actuality. God’s promised reign of love and hope, compassion and reconciliation, harmony and justice, is incarnated in a new humanity, a people commissioned to represent the gospel of peace to the alienated and hostile powers of the world. 145

The church too often accepts the modern dichotomy between private and public life. Therefore it attempts to find ways to enable private religious experience to be relevant within the public sphere of social and political discourse. This search to be responsive to the needs, problems, fears, and anxieties of its culture can unwittingly allow the "old age"-life according to the flesh-to set the agenda. As a result, the church loses its ability to challenge the world's presuppositions and to offer an alternative perspective of reality as well as an alternative social order. 149

The purpose of missional communities is to be a source of radical hope, to witness to the new identity and vision, the new way of life that has become a social reality injesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The persistent problem is not how to keep the church from withdrawing from the world, but how to keep the world from distracting the church from its purpose of cultivating the people of God. As sign, foretaste, agent, and instrument of God's reconciling love and forgiveness, the church makes Jesus Christ visible in the world. The church is a social reality that continually engages in the practices that cultivate a people of truth, peace, wholeness, and holiness. The forming of Christian community is therefore not an option but the very lifestyle and vocation of the church. 153

Further, a whole series of other pressures compels leaders to structure churches around strategies for reaching the increasing number of unchurched people. Church growth and evangelism models direct the attention of churches to reaching the unchurched and connecting with disaffected affillates. A majority of these approaches are technique and method driven. Generational studies and demographics are increasingly used as tools to develop effective strategies for reaching various groups in North America. Such tools are important resources, but they can become false substitutes for forming a missional identity. Often missing from their application is reflection on the nature of the church. Pp 201

David Lowes Watson comments that "we find narcissism ... and individualism ... masquerading as personal salvation and religious experience .... as a privatized soteriology and spiritualized discipleship .... leaving the powers and principalities of the present world unchallenged." 202

The reign of Christ is jeopardized when any organizational structure becomes an end in itself This happens whenever the institution places all its energy in its own maintenance. When the visible church is primarily concerned with its image, its growth, its success, and its security, then it is ripe for conversion to the reign of Christ, who lays bare and sets aside all these idols. just as flirtation with false gods remained a continual problem for Israel, the Christian community must contend constantly with temptations that would set up idols to replace Christ the King. Pp 229

The particular community, empowered by God's Spirit, not only lives out the gospel internally but opens up the gospel externally by the way it lives, so that others may see and respond. This witness may result in growth, as we have noted, but that is not its goal. 247

The church that is faithful to the gospel tradition, the Nicene Creed proclaimed, will always be experienced as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic."

Apostolic - But the missional nature of the church is more emphatically affirmed when the apostolic activity itself defines the church. What the apostles did, that is, their life and work as witnesses to God's good news in Jesus Christ the Lord, defines and shapes the very nature of the church. The apostolicity of the church is expressed by its witness to the gospel, its obedience to the mandate to go out as Christ's ambassadors. 256

The catholicity of the church is demonstrated in all the ways that the church at every level witnesses to the one gospel that draws all people unto Christ. "Catholicity" should be understood in its original Greek sense: kata holon, "according to the whole, or appropriate to the whole." The World Council's Fourth Assembly at Uppsala (1968) defined this catholicity as "the quality by which the church expresses the fullness, the integrity, and the totality of life in Christ." 257

In short, the holiness of the church happens in and through the ecclesial practices. The community makes holy as it lives out the gospel in all its organizational processes, both internally and externally. With such an emphasis, the particular mission community is liberated to focus less on its holiness as a concern for its own inward spiritual state and more on its impact as a sanctifying presence where it is sent.

The same emphases need to characterize the structures of missional connectedness. At these levels, the holiness of the church should be demonstrated by the way the church structures go about their business. Their decision-making processes, administrative policies, financial practices, and personnel structures are all opportunities to incarnate the gospel. What our world needs to experience is institutions whose decisions and actions are shaped by God's love revealed in Christ. For the sake of its mission, the church must risk being genuinely alternative in our culture. This alternativeness does not mean a withdrawal of the church from society, but rather an intentional demonstration in the actions of our connecting structures of this basic fact: Christ is our Lord… 259


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Cameron, H. et al (2005) Studying Local Churches. SCM 

Cameron, H. et al (2005) Studying Local Churches. SCM


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