Missional Church: a vision for the sending of the church in North America
edited by Darrell L. Guder
Authors: Lois Barrett, Inagrace T. Dietterich, George R. Hunsberger, Alan J. Roxburgh, Craig Van Gelder
Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub, (C) 1998
This first reading of Missional Church has been another stop at the proverbial fire hose. The next reading (January or summer 2007) will no doubt be deeper and more critical. From this initial reading, I have collected several notions worthy of further investigation. These are rather like the firstfruits, offered as evidence of and thanks for a good harvest in the future:
- “Apostolic” as the church’s Missional vocation (p.83)
- We are not merely on a mission; we are missional (p.128-132).
- Because all in the community are gifted and sent by the Spirit, our decision-making processes are neither autocratic nor democratic. Rather, these processes are pneumocratic. This notion is worthy of at least one blog post…probably several (p.172-175).
- Covenant community as bounded set and congregation as centered set (p.213).
- Eschatology as shaping our organizational expression (p.231)
- Marks of the church in the Nicene Creed as practices rather than characteristics: apostolicity as proclaiming, catholicity as reconciling and reconciled, holiness as sanctifying, and unity as unifying (p.254-264)
- Missional ecclesiology: “church” is particular missional communities AND missional structures of connectedness (p.266)
- The tasks of missional ecclesiology: identify and resist attempts at maintenance, question temptations to compromise with the world, turn to Scripture and the global church to correct our thinking, and the gospel as the sole criterion for both particular and connecting forms (p.268)
The most important lesson I take from Missional Church is the firm conviction that we must return to Scripture and relearn God’s intention for the ecclesia. There is, of course, a human-divine tension in the church. But while the church is surely a human structure, we have focused on the human aspect for so long and so deeply that I fear we have forgotten that we are HIS church. We are HIS sent church, sent to proclaim HIS kingdom, not to build and protect our own.
We know this. We feel this deeply. We know that a comforting, self-protective, self-promoting church is not what God intends and is not what we need. Since we know this, let us search the Scriptures.
NOTE: chapters 2 and 3 offer a very good summary of North American culture.