The Aussie blog Signposts is running an occasional series on missional DNA, or mDNA… a couple of posts caught my eye in the last week or so: What is a congregation? and Apostolic Environment. These posts, like most others in the series, consider some of the foundational elements and ideals of a missional church.
The subject matter in the first of these two recent posts is fairly self-explanatory from the post title:
In the development of our multi-congregational approach, we needed to answer a number of fundamental questions. One of the first tasks was to identify how we defined a congregation. In order to become the body of Christ, as the apostle Peter challenges us to be, we need to deconstruct our church experiences and ask what the purpose of our gathering is. Gathering times of worship are not the only activity of the Church. Yet, it is too easy to identify the ecclesia as primarily a mechanism for the nurture and encouragement of the saints. Too often a high proportion of the churchâ€™s time, energy and focus goes into the worship event. As a result, like a person coming home after work we simply do not have time for missional engagement and we slump on the couch of worship. At my former church I often wondered what the impact on the community could be if we could have released the resources that larger churches devote the worship event.
The second deals with the fivefold ministries, or APEPT, and offers an interesting idea for consideration:
Alan Hirsch argues that any time the Church has had an effect on its social environment in which it was operating there was always an apostolic nature to the leadership and the environment that they created. What does this mean? In his first book the shaping of things to come, Alan Hirsch, together with Michael Frost describes the APEPT model of leadership. In this model there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. It is model that is drawn from Paulâ€™s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 4). The apostolic leader is described as one who is an entrepreneur, pioneer, strategist, innovator, and visionary leader. It is this leadership and the resulting apostolic environment that Alan argues is essential if we are to recover our missional movement impetus.
Both posts provide some good thought fodder followed by some good discussion. Emergent Kiwi offers a contrarian view of the fivefold ministries… coincidentally refering to another Signposts discussion, which includes a lot of discussion in the comments section. I’ve written previously concerning the giftings listed in Ephesians 4 (as well as in Romans and Corinthians). This becomes relevant in some of the discussions following somewhere around this point; I don’t follow the contrarian view, but I’m not 100% in line with the traditional interpretations either. Elsewhere, House Church Blog offers thoughts on Missional Contradictions and Differing Spiritual Gifts
Meanwhile in a similar vein, Justin Baeder posts a brief observation, Christology > Missiology > Ecclesiology, which forms the basis for a discussion of not putting Ecclesiology before Christology, or Missiology, for that matter. Alan Hirsch chimes in on the discussion, which results in a followup post, Church Follows Mission (Alan Hirsch) including an explanatory diagram from Hirsch’s forthcoming book.
Insightful stuff all around. To be missional, we must begin with Christ, our basis for being intentional, incarnational, and missional. The manner in which we go about being missional is our missiology, and whatever leadership and organizational structures serve these best may only then be applied to our ecclesiology, which cannot properly be formed prior to this time.