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.”
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.
In my previous post, I reflected briefly on a recent post by David Fitch about the Sunday morning gathering in the local church. He suggests that contrary to the position taken by some missional thinkers now, the Sunday gathering is not non-missional — or at least, it doesn’t have to be despite “the problem of the attractional inertia surrounding the Sunday morning worship gathering.”
A lot of this has to do with how we view the gathering in the first place. In introducing the subject, Fitch writes,
Dave Fitch posted Against Decaffeinated Belief: The Sunday Gathering as Missional almost two weeks ago now, and I’m finally sitting down to chew on it. I really have to sit down with Dr. Fitch one of these days over a pint of beer for some thought-stimulating conversation. I like what he’s on about in this post.
One of my D.Min students (at Northern) writes about the problem of decaffeinated belief in his thesis proposal. He says that many of his denomination’s pastors
We’ve been having some real fun over at the Missional Tribe. After flinging the doors open a little under 48 hours ago, we have as of this moment 198 users and 82 blogs, where there have been some good posts showing up and some good conversations getting started. The groups and forums are active too, with more conversations going on than I can keep track of.
I’ve be tweaking and the other instigators have been tapping away, and the final moments are upon us. Launch day for Missional Tribe is on Epiphany, January 6th, and we have a few real goodies in store — for instance,
Just when you think the conversation might go away quietly, Bill Kinnon sticks his nose into it. But then again, he can have that way of hitting it spot-on in his commentary. Like this time. So in this running dialogue, I was going to title my post Maynard on Kinnon on Keller on Fitch on Kimball — because that’s the rough outline of the conversational thread — but then just the title of the post would be too hard to follow. As it happens, Tim Keller has responded to David Fitch’s response to what it sounded like Dan Kimball was saying on the Out of Ur blog. Keller outlines some of his experience in small and large churches, then summarizes,
In case you missed it, Dan Kimball wrote a post at Out of Ur, and like many others, I responded. Then Dan responded to my response. Other great points in this discussion are made by Julie Clawson, David Fitch, and Erika Haub, including front-line reports from missional churches. (I found myself defending missional theory.) Once you read his followup comments, you realize that Dan’s original post was edited in a way that shifted its emphasis somewhat. I said right off that he had a point, and with the updates in mind one begins to to understand better — he isn’t as polarized on this issue as the original post makes him sound, and his questions are genuine. In fact, Dan is involved in starting a new missional network. Even so, Dan’s questions raised some further issues and highlighted some differences of opinion which nevertheless remain.
Dan Kimball says at Out of Ur today that “Small, indigenous churches are getting lots of attention, but where’s the fruit?”
My first thought was that we’d seen this before, a year ago when Mark Driscoll said pretty much the same thing, to which I responded about measuring converts, and based on that, David Fitch explains why he misses the point. So I thought we’d already addressed this — and I thought Dan Kimball should know better. And maybe he does… because he’s got a point.
Allow me to highlight a few points of departure from and agreement with Dan’s position.
Churches nationwide are fretting and sweating to reel men into their sanctuaries on Sundays.
Women outnumber men in attendance in every major Christian denomination, and they are 20% to 25% more likely to attend worship at least weekly.
In an effort to but male butts into the pews, 121 Community Church has geared everything toward men.
Somewhat by accident this week, I started a series examining and interacting with some of the posts from the missional synchroblog in which I participated this week along with 49 other “official” entries and a few unofficial ones. Having already apologized to Paul Simon, today’s set is the “make a new plan, Stan” series.
Cobus Van Wyngaard weighs in by invoking David Bosch’s Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission right in the post title. This is one of the keystone works for understanding missional, so it’s good that somebody brought it into the fray. Leaving the definition to others, he chose to explore the question, “Why the missional church?” Although often credited with the term missio Dei, he writes that “Bosch is simply giving an overview of how the concept has developed since 1932 onwards.”
This week I’m at a retreat center in Seabeck, WA meeting with 40 or so pastors, writers, bloggers, leaders, and “laypeople” to discuss the creation of a Missional Order. Notables include Andrew Jones, Rick Meigs, Alan Roxburgh, Bill Kinnon, Pete Askew from Northumbria, Bob Roxburgh, Mark Priddy, Len Hjalmarson. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and to seeing and catching up with others that I “know” online or have only met once or twice before. I also owe Andrew Jones a beer, despite the fact we’ve never met in person before… so hopefully I can pay up. The Internet has really changed social interaction — I’m flying out a day early to spend an evening with old college friends that I’d lost touch with for about twelve or fifteen years before renewing contact through Facebook.