I can’t believe that the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (IMBR) is now free online. This is top flight missiology. I’ve been a subscriber for years. Several articles have had a profound impact on my missiology. I may add to that list from some of the articles in the most recent issue of IBMR on Partnership. Consider an excerpt from Jonathan Bonk’s (author of the very helpful Missions & Money) introductory editorial:
The deficiencies of the discourse of ecclesiastical partnership become apparent when applied to the organs of our own bodies. It would be bizarre to suggest that each of the thousands of parts that compose a healthy human being is in some kind of voluntary partnership with all of the others. Much more is at stake in the interconnections, interpenetrations, and interdependencies within us than the word â€œpartnershipâ€ can be made to imply. A detached body part is dead. In the most profound and ultimate sense, as with the myriad parts of any living body, so all Christians are interconnected, utterly interdependent members of one body. As such, we dare not confine our practical thinking about how to fulfill the churchâ€™s mission to the restricted range of possibilities suggested or permitted by a contractual term, even one so potentially rich and intimate as â€œpartnership.â€
Read the Rest of “What About Partnership“
As church leaders it can be difficult to read the books we need to read. We are often overwhelmed with emergency readingâ€”reading in areas of the church where we are deficient (e.g. childrenâ€™s ministry, church discipline, missional church, counseling, best practices). We scour blogs and books for practical insight, inevitably digesting half-baked ideas and practices.
If we arenâ€™t careful, we can get indigestion by consuming this stuff. Our diet devolves. We get bogged down in best practices instead of diving deeply into the Bible and our culture. What we need is good theology and missiology.
Read the rest at the GCM Collective Blog
Okay, so maybe American missions work is driven by the same kind of pragmatism that characterizes so many American churches. Is that really such a big deal? Well, stop and consider the differences between planting pragmatically-driven churches in America versus planting them in most Majority World contexts. Such churches in America have the luxury of building themselves upon the foundations of a culture imbued with several hundred years of Christian influence and ethical norms. Fill a room with nominal Christians, as pragmatically-driven churches do, and you still have a dame that looks half way decent. She’ll dress up alright.
There’s some good thinking in this issue of 9 Marks, though I don’t agree with all of it.
Okay, here are my thoughts on the so-called Missional Tree (I surprised no one has commented on this). The idea of a missional tree is pretty cool and potentially helpful; however, this tree is an incomplete, second generation tree. I realize that these books are practitioner oriented, with the exception of Guder, but there’s not one biblical theology of mission listed. What about Chris Wright’s landmark The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative or Stetzer and Hesselgrave’s forthcoming Mission: God’s Initiative in the World?
All the books listed here were published within the past ten years (and we need fresh publications like these). Missional theology has been in existence much longer. Look no further than Ed Stetzer’s fine historical work on the Meanings of Missional to uncover some of the missional greats. But before there was Stetzer and Guder there was Bosch, Walls, Hiebert, Kraft, Van Engen, etc. These missional redwoods tower over many of the books features in the missional tree, both in history and content. Consider this rich description of the missional church from Andrew Walls first published 20 years ago:
Christian faith is missionary both in its essence and in its history. At the heart of the Christian fiath lie assumptions about the Lord and the Ground of the uinverse and the common nature of humanity and affirmations about Jesus Christ that forbid its appropriation to any person, group or community as a private possession. The conviction that Jesus is Lord and the testimony that Christ is risen cannot mean that much unless they are to be shared. But both the faith of Christians and the nature of the church are missionary in a much deeper sense, more closely related to the “sending” idea from which the word “missionary” came…The mission of the church is not simply to add to itself but to bear witness that by his cross and resurrection Christ brought back the whole creation and defeated the powers that spoil it. In this sense all Christian life is missionary, as is the work of Christians and their commerce and habits of life, their art and music and every activity that demands choice.
If that isn’t deep and wide missiology, then I don’t know what is! Walls has influenced many missiologists. His first-hand experience in Africa outpaces the missional wisdom of many popular missional authors. We do well to get under the shade of such missional redwoods, to think their thoughts after them, and plant churches that sink strong missional roots into the soil of our cities, towns, and churches.