Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Missional? Emergent?

It occurred to me that, again, lots of my friends and family aren't all that familiar with terms thrown around in the last post, like "emerging church" and "missional". Since I'm likely to use them a lot, I was going to link to their entries on wikipedia. But glancing at them quickly, I'm going to refrain - as it turns out, I don't think their descriptions are very good. They seem very one-sided and written by people suspicious of the terms. (You can still read them if you want, but I'm not going to help you do it. :P Except for making it easy to get to wikipedia.)

So, since it's late and I don't want to write out comprehensive descriptions myself, which would also be one-sided - anybody know where there are really good definitions of the terms? You can get a fair bit of info from checking my links - there are several missional/emergent-influenced groups mentioned to your right, especially the Emergent Village. But that itself is only one expression of the emerging church or the missional life. Though this, from EV, seems like a pretty good description of missional as commitment to God's world:
"We practice our faith missionally – that is, we do not isolate ourselves from this world, but rather, we follow Christ into the world.
We seek to fulfill the mission of God in our generations, and then to pass the baton faithfully to the next generations as well.
We believe the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; we seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else.
We see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so we join God in seeking its good, its healing, and its blessing.
To build relationships with neighbors and to seek the good of our neighborhoods and cities.
To seek reconciliation with enemies and make peace.
To encourage and cherish younger people and to honor and learn from older people.
To honor creation and to cherish and heal it.
To build friendships across gender, racial, ethnic, economic and other boundaries.
To be involved at all times in at least one issue or cause of peace and justice."

Cool. Whereas the wikipedia article implies that missional doesn't include 'teaching' or encouraging 'holiness' or 'disciple-making.' Which may or may not be true of individual strains, but is not my understanding or experience. My experience is that there's lots of teaching and theology; and as for calling for holiness or disciple-making, it's more fair to say that there's a different understanding of it. Say, rather than teaching somebody to recite the four spiritual laws, or that they're not supposed to dance or , you try to model loving God, loving neighbor, forgiving know, Jesus stuff. And you build relationships with people without first requiring that they live as if they were saints - which is not the same thing as not talking about holiness, or virtue - though as I say, I've no doubt that tendency is there for some. Overall, though, I find that the missional understanding calls much more fully for holiness, as it encourages taking Jesus' most outrageous commands seriously, and encourages living them out all the time, not just on Sunday morning or Wednesday night.

Any better definitions of missional out there? How about emerging/emergent?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Wow, I have another blog to check on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. Since I just got your blog address I had a lot of reading to do to catch up. Since I mostly get updates on you through my husband (with an occassional dinner thrown in), I'm excited to get direct contact to your thoughts through your blog. Thanks for challenging me to be silent before God, and to really listen. If you have any more advice on listening to God, I'd love to hear it!