If anyone’s been counting carefully through the previous eight posts, they’ll notice two things. First, there are more than 50 ways to define missional. At least, there are more than 50 posts on the subject which have appeared in connection with the June 23rd synchroblog which got this whole mess going. Secondly, the astute observer will notice that I’ve skipped summarizing one of the posts — my own. I’ll rectify that today, and then carry on with some kind of synthesis of everything else that’s been said in this little adventure. Oh, and my apologies to anyone who’s getting tired of the Blues Brothers image… I don’t normally reuse my post images, but I thought I’d try a unifying image for this series as a visual tip that they go together.
When I I began a series examining the posts from the recent missional synchroblog in which I participated with a total of 50 bloggers (plus a few unofficial entries), I don’t think I fully thought through the question of just how much material there would be to interact with. Nevertheless, I’m past the halfway mark and most of the major concepts have been introduced already, so we might be able to pick up the pace. We shall see. As I sift through the many posts, I keep thinking back to the missional series I started last summer to better define the term. Like the synchroblog, it was born of a frustration with the misuse of the term that many of us began to observe more than a year ago now.
Picking up the present series where we left off, JR Rozko writes,
Last week I I began a series examining the posts from the recent missional synchroblog in which I participated with a total of 50 bloggers (plus a few unofficial entries) in an effort to describe the meaning of the word “missional.” The project was born out of a frustration with the misuse of the term, as expressed by several of us. This was also the impetus for the major series I undertook last summer on the subject. I had left it aside for a while, but am still hoping to revive my work on the topic for eventual publishing.
Duncan McFadzean begins by quoting Mike Frost from Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture:
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.”
I’m not sure quite how I was struck by the thought, but something occurred to me about the way we learned to fly. Early attempts at flight were clearly based on an examination of birds. Contraptions designed to allow a human being to fly would typically employ a device whereby the aviator’s arms and legs would power a “flapping” motion of the wings on the machine. Da Vinci designed such a device, as did many others — some of whom tested them with varying degrees of success. Perhaps “varying degrees of failure” might be a better way to phrase that. It seems that the best case scenario was flight for a limited distance off the edge of a bluff or small cliff and lasting for as long as the aviator could maintain the frantic flapping that would delay or diminish the pain at the end of a potential plummet.
I’m thinking about small group ministries that so many churches offer these days. Many seem to be based on good principles of mutual care, and some are based around the idea that the small group or cell is the basic building-block of the church. At one time I might have said that a church without a small group ministry is missing out on a critical element of church life. In my CLB, we were all about small groups, at least in the earlier days (they became more mechanized than organic nearer the end). I remember a lot of the cell church material as well, and the attempts at hybridizing the purer forms of cell church and the megachurch mentality. I wonder now if a church with a small group ministry isn’t sometimes an oxymoronic expression of community, an attempt to replicate in smaller units the thing that’s fundamentally missing from the larger context… but since it’s fundamentally a program, its makeup cuts across the formation of organic relationship and true community.
First it was Mark Driscoll saying, “And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations — I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.” Then recently I found a post asking if it was End of the House Church? This from another insider, who notes, “I am beginning to wonder if the ‘reemergence’ of the House Church Movement that has happened in the last three or four years has stopped before it really got going? The reason I wonder this is because in the four years of being in organic Church nothing much seems to be different in regards to numbers and the vibe I am getting around the place from way back in 2004.”