Bless me reader, for I have sinned. It’s been 202 days since my last post. And what does it take to get me to stick my nose back into this conversation? Disgust, naturally, and something of a rant. A disgusted rant.
Seems hard to believe, like it’s been forever but also like it was only a year or two ago at most. Yet six years ago today was my first post here at Subversive Influence. It’s not the six years of blogging that seems so unbelievable (particularly given my lack of consistency over the past year), but the events that precipitated it and the changes in our lives since that time. It was just over six years ago when the pastor I’d been working with for ten years on a in the church I’d been part of for sixteen showed up on my doorstep shortly after I’d gotten home from church one Sunday morning and gotten my kids some lunch. I stepped out onto my driveway to speak with him while he had his wife and kids sitting in the van, and he proceeded to blow a gasket, not only yelling at me and telling me my contributions were no longer welcome, but throwing some of my own vulnerabilities in my face and asking how I dared critique anything they were doing when they were serving? I’d say it was the beginning of the end, except the beginning had really come some years before that, creeping up on us unawares. Instead, this was the proverbial straw that did the camel in.
Okay, so it’s not shampoo, but I wanted to point this out and then forgot about it when I was posting yesterday’s update. Maybe it’s a mental block because I also celebrated my birthday during my recent blog convalescence (or whatever that was). And one of my gifts was an EvangeCube.
It was. And when you stop laughing, I’ll have to tell you that I was… well, speechless. Doesn’t happen a lot, but there it was, me with nothing to say. Totally dumbfounded. Had it been intended as a gag gift, I’d have known better how to react. Alas…
I know, it’s overdue. Long overdue. This blog seems to have disintegrated into one of those that has an irregular stream of posts saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted more, but I will soon, I promise.” But I don’t believe in those posts – and maybe I don’t really believe in apologies for not blogging. Sorry to disappoint you. ;^)
I’m a week behind in the series now, but I hope to catch up. I really do have good intentions. Anyway, last week in the Missional Prelude series, the gang was talking about how God is at work outside of the church. As is the pattern, Ed Stetzer opened things up on Monday with the question: “How and Why is God at Work Outside the Church?” He then started namedropping, opening with “J.C. Hoekendijk,” who some may remember has been discussed in a prior series. Ed writes, “For Hoekendijk, the concept of shalom (a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare) was a more all-inclusive notion than salvation…. Salvation was broadened and, in some ways, redefined.”
Ed Stetzer suggests that we can avoid the trouble that shipwrecked the missio dei movement in part “by going back and looking at the roots of the missional movement and having a robust theological discussion that heightens our awareness of the issues at hand.”
Seems a little odd to be writing a prologue after all this time, doesn’t it? Well, there’s a back-story, as may be inferred by those who may have noticed posts at other blogs with this same title. I’ve written a lot about the meaning of missional, its distinctives, and what it means to be missional — besides innumerable casual mentions on this blog. I finally drafted a missional series index that lists the posts I did during my major series (2007) defining the concepts inherent in the term as well as the nine-post series I did (2008) summarizing the missional synchroblog when more than 50 bloggers participated in hashing out what it means to be missional. With a couple of other miscellaneous posts thrown in, this is a total of 25 posts just from me. That’s a lot of words, and some may wonder why I’m doing this once again. No, it’s not because I skipped it last year and am overdue, but it’s for two major reasons.
Brian McLaren’s new book (A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith) has just been released, and it’s already causing a bit of a firestorm. I’m still awaiting my copy, but plan to look through it at his ten questions and interact with those once I’ve been able to consider them in more detail. In the meantime, there are a few things upon which I really feel the need to comment, and since I have a ready-built platform, there’s nobody to stop me. I apologize for the length of the post — I went back to see if I could split it up into two parts, but it just doesn’t work very well to do that. It’s long, but I think it’s important. Thanks in advance for bearing with me, and reading on. And if you get bored, skip down — I summarize at the end.
This is a summary of some of the posts I’ve written over the past couple of years defining missional. Most notable among these are two series that I did on the subject. The first was my exploration of the topic, and the second was a summary of the posts contributed in a synchroblog on the question. I’ve marked a couple of the notable posts with an asterisk.
The Biblical Learning Blog Has complied a list of the Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs, and for some reason they stuck me on it in the “Emergence Outreach” category. My crony Bill Kinnon, who slotted in under the “Reaching Out” category. Meanwhile, I’m reading Sarah Bessey’s excellent post In which [she has] discovered that [she doesn't] care about the emerging church anymore and wondering if they might take away the latest designation for my wall if I’m not as emerging as I once was.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.