Moving from the theological tower to the churchplanting trenches, more than my clothes have changed. In this transition I have been exposed to the broken-in look of various theological concepts. In particular, I have in mind the theological notion and practical understanding and expression of being missional. If “missional” is hot and hip among young evangelicals, its blazing and blown-up among churchplanters. I guess I am hot and hip, if in using the word missional we are referring to taking part in the Missio Dei by participating in the triune God’s activity to redeem all peoples and cultures (personal definition).
Discussions and definitions for missional abound. However, how we participate in the Missio Dei, how we responsibly mobilize and strategize in God’s sovereign redemptive activity requires more than people who definitize.
Being a “missionary” in N. America is common parlance among churchplanters and missional advocates, and though center of gravity of global christianity has shifted to the south and east, I don’t think that puts the West on an even mission field with many non-Western places, more importantly, peoples. To be sure, we should all redemptively engage peoples and cultures with Pauline missionary passion, but more than passion is at play.
To mobilize and strategize for the cause of global evangelization effectively, it seems that the missional movement needs to hold Missio Dei in one hand and Missio ad Gentes in the other. Missio ad Gentes is a Latin phrase that refers to mission to the “pagans” “nations” or “non-Christians.” It is frequently used by Catholic missiologists and appears in the Vatican II documents. To engage in missio ad gentes is to make a distinction between evangelism and mission, advancing the notion of priority in missions to peoples receiving a first proclamation of the gospel of Christ, not unlike Winter’s E 1.2.3 paradigm.
There are still over 8,000 people groups that have not heard the first proclamation of the gospel. Thousands more do not have the Scriptures in their language. Add to that the cultural corruption in many unreached nations that fosters poverty, disease, crime, sex trafficking and so on. The frontiers of missions must not be lost in the homeland of the West. We need people and churches that will be missional both locally and globally, joining with the triune God in pursuit of his global glory. We need Missio Dei in our hearts and Missio ad Gentes in our hands.
Justin posted this list of questions by Douglas Wilson for father’s to interrogate ask their daughter’s potential boyfriends suitors. I really liked number twelve about the guy’s GPA in college (!). Read them and consider whether or not they are questions you would ask. Why or why not?
1. Tell me about your spiritual background. What was your church upbringing like? At what point did your spiritual experience become real to you? Have you ever had a period of spiritual rebellion?
2. When was the last time you read through the entire Bible? The New Testament?
3. Do you attend worship every Lord’s Day?
4. Describe your parents’ marriage for me. What are the most valuable lessons you have you learned from your parents? [In cases of divorce, or other severe marriage problems] What did you learn from these problems? Have you learned what not to do? [In cases where dad wronged mom] What did you do to support and encourage your mother?
5. What is your relationship like with your dad? With your mom?
6. If I were given a fly-on-the-wall glimpse of a typical conversation that you might have with your mom, would you agree that this will likely be the way you will be treating my daughter ten years from now? Why or why not?
7. How many brothers and sisters do you have? How do you get along them?
8. What kind of worker are you?
9. How many jobs have you had in your life, and what did your bosses think of you? Were those bosses sorry to see you go, or glad to see you go?
10. What do you believe God has called you to do vocationally? Ten years from now, what you believe you will be doing?
11. What steps have you taken to reach that goal?
12. What was your GPA in college? How come?
13. How much money did you make last year? Do you pay your bills on time? How much debt have you accumulated?
Aaron recently asked for my recommendations on missiology texts, so I thought I would post for anyone to check them out. Aaron, please feel free to specify, if you are interested in a particular aspect of missions and missiology. I will try to recommend texts from several different angles. I will leave many out but include books that I have found particularly insightful or helpful. Feel free to add to the list!
3) Whose Religion is Christianity?, Lamin Sanneh – a dialogical presentation of questions and concepts that rightly and wrongly undermine Western trends in missions. Sanneh is not an evangelical but is a profoundly insightful African missiologist.
4) The Mission of God, Chris Wright – a great biblical theology of mission by a fine scholar, missionary, theologian and Englishman.