Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rise of the Missional Church

I just reread a book called, The Shaping of Things to Come. This book is probably the most influential book I've read on the missional church. If you want to understand what the missional church is aiming for...go get this book. Whenever I get discouraged about attempting something new, different and experimental, I can pick up this book and it reminds me that what we're doing at The Well is important work. Let me share a quote from the book with you that is one of many convincing arguments for shifting away from the traditional / Christendom model of church and embracing mission:

"We are living in an ephoch-shifting period in the West (and globally) as we shift from the modern to the postmodern. There is every indication that this cultural shift will be even more profound and radical than was the shift precipitated by the Renaissance, which took place within the auspices of Christendom. What is happening now is entirely outside of any discernible Christian influence."

"We propose that what will emerge from the chaos of the current social-historical shift to the postmodern is likely to be a second reformation as the church rediscovers itself as an apostolic movement. In fact, we suggest that if the church in the West does not embrace such a radical recalibration, it will find itself increasingly imperiled. The standard Christendom model will simply not engage [a new] generation. To reach them and all other postmodern subcultures, the church should abandon its role as a static institution and embrace its initial calling to be a missionary movement. What is the nature of this apostolic movement? Whereas Christendom has unraveled because of its seduction by Western culture, the emerging missional church must see itself as being able to interact meaningfully with culture without ever being beguiled by it. This is the classic task of the cross-cultural missionary: to engage culture without compromising the gospel. We cannot emphasize this enough. In fact, the whole tenor of this book will be to call post-Christendom to see itself again as a missionary movement rather than as an institution."(Frost, Michael and Hirsch, Alan. The Shaping of Things to Come . Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.)

What I realize when I read this book is that we still have a long way to go before we're truly missional. Then again, we're moving in the right direction, and that's unbelievably important. More thoughts on this soon.

Bless somebody today out of the abundance of blessings with which God has blessed you.


brad brisco said...

Ryan, I too love "Shaping." Certainly a must read. While you are probably already familiar with it I would highly recommend Hirsch's "The Forgotten Ways." In some ways I found it even more helpful and challenging.

Bill Wolfe said...

I love the quote you pulled out, especially this:

"This is the classic task of the cross-cultural missionary: to engage culture without compromising the gospel."

I guess that's what it all comes down to.