DJ's Book Rants

A Seminary student and pastor trying to find an outlet for all the books he has to read.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Missional Church

The “Missional Church” was edited by Darrell Guder but much of the books richness and depth come through its diverse voices. A great team of theologians and practitioners have joined their knowledge and experience under the banner of resending the Church in American. Unlike many how to books the challenge of reaching America with the good news of Jesus and his Kingdom is presented as a monumental challenge. The “Missional Church” undertakes the task of presenting a missional theology of the church that is: biblical, historical, contextual, eschatological, and practical. Under girding this theology is the assumption that mission is understood and derived from the very nature of God, mission Dei.[1]


The Missional Church” describes the context and environment for sharing the gospel in both North America and Canada. Craig Van Gelder describes the postmodern condition and its transitions in culture and society in connection with consumerism, the self, and truth. Van Gelder does a useful overview of the Church as it experienced Christendom, denominationalism, and the church growth movements. After establishing the context of the mission George Hunsberger provides and inspirational call to be the people of God bearing the Good News: The Reign of God is at Hand. Hunsberger describes the Reign of God as the teaching objective of Jesus and the historical prophetic visions of shalom characterized by peace, justice, and celebration. The church experiences the Reign of God through the biblical images of gift and realm which are received through the acts of repentance and faith.[2] Lois Barrett provides specific direction for a church seeking to have an apostolic ministry in our present day context. Barrett uses the familiar example of Jesus as preacher, teacher and healer to illustrate how these objectives look different in the environment of God’s reign and new citizenship. Inagrace T. Dietterich help make missional theology a practical reality in his chapter on “Missional Community: Cultivating Communities of the Holy Spirit.” In this chapter he applies missional theology to the practices of Baptism, Communion, accountability, discernment, and hospitality. Alan Roxburgh is the one who helped me see the amazing spiritual formation that can take place through the practice of hospitality in his book “Missional Leadership.” Roxburgh uses several diagrams in his chapter entitled “Equipping God’s People for Mission” to illustrate a community that is both open and committed. He uses the language of creating a pilgrim people of God seeking God’s reign and a bounded Covenant Community committed to living out God’s Reign.


Guder describes the belief and commitment of the “Missional Church” in his chapter on “The Particular Community.” This quote is found in the context of describing a churches move from Parish to Mission Community.
We believe that we are the church, that is, we are a community of God’s called and set apart for witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to be a blessing. As the Father has sent Christ, so Christ sends us. Jesus Christ has defined us as his witnesses where we are. We believe therefore that the Holy Spirit not only calls us but also enables and gifts us for that mission. Our task is to determine the particular focus and direction of our mission. We are to identify the charisms given us by the Spirit for mission. We have the responsibility and the capacity through the Holy Spirit, to shape ourselves for faithful witness. Our purpose defines our organizational structures – which means that our mission challenges us to re-form our structures so that we can be faithful in our witness.[3]
This statement encompasses many of the teams values: a sent people, Trinitarian, gift driven, and changeable. Guder communicates with accuracy the most foundational beliefs and values for those who hope to be apart of a missional church.

Guder speaks highly of the churches worship gatherings and recognizes their importance in forming a people of God. He has equally high expectations for a dynamic of people on the edge of God’s Church and those who are in the center of covenant community. He believes worship should be carried out by “God’s called and sent people,” but it should also “welcome and make room for the curious, the skeptical, the critical, the needy, the exploring, and the committed.”[4] I don’t want to disagree with his vision or goal. I simply have not seen a worship gathering for worshipers that can make room for the skeptic and the critic. Worship should be forming us into people who love the skeptic and the critic, and invite them into our lives. I believe they will feel uncomfortable in sharing their true questions and concerns in a gathering of worshipers. Our worship should seek to continually convert and form the people of God. Those who do not want to be people of God yet are probably not ready to be in our worship Gathering.


The “Missional Church” reestablishes the eschatological call for the church live out the mission Dei, bearing the Reign of God. The team of theologians and practitioners have skillfully joined together to create a consistent and coherent Missional Church theology. Guder has achieved the goal of presenting a picture of the Missional Church that is biblical, historical, contextual, eschatological, and practical. The “Missional Church” will serve as a primer for anyone seeking to lead or participate in a church in North America or Canada that seeks to missionaly share the God News of Jesus Christ.
[1] pg. 5
[2] Pg 96
[3] Pg 236
[4] Pg 243


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