Monday, January 21, 2008

an A to Z beginners guide to the missional conversation: part 2

OK, here’s the second installment. If you like to start your alphabet from A, go here.

I is for Incarnation. God is present. In Jesus yes. In the Spirit yes, present in the towns and villages of Luke 10, present in our world today. This is not a looking for God in the past, nor a looking for God in charismatic leaders, but a looking for God in our world today.

I is also for imagination. While the missional church listens to it’s culture, it is not seeking relevance or liberalism. Rather it is seeking the Kingdom. Which is easier to say than to define. Jesus defined it with stories of mustard seeds and coins lost, by pointing to lives changed and tables overturned. Hence I is for imagination, defined by the words, stories and actions of Jesus.

J is for justice. Luke 10 invites the disciples into towns and villages. They are to eat and drink at workers tables in which the labourer is worthy of hire. At these tables, the talk includes the hire of labour. A deep listening to not only the micro-, but the meso-, and macro- will include discernment of the economic structures, the powers and principalities that stand against the imagination of Jesus.

K is for Kingdom. Which we discussed under I is for imagination. So it only remains to simply note that missional conversation is way bigger than church and worship and Sunday.

L is for listen. How else can you hear what God is doing in the world around you? Jesus commands them to take no bag, no purse, no sandals. No sandals has echoes of Exodus 3 and the command to Moses to take of his shoes, for he stands on holy ground. Thank God that Moses put aside his bag and purse and sandals, listened and found God in a desert place.

L is also for leadership. Our world today offers us competing visions of leader. The entrepreneur who can start things and the CEO who can control things. Luke 10 offers us a very different vision of leadership as one who listens, as one who discerns what God is already doing, as one who names a Biblical imagination. The missional conversation gathers this job description with phrases like “cultivating environments” and the belief that leadership is about S is for Spiritual practices that cultivate I for Imagination, as unique I for Incarnation, needed for every T is for Table is unique.

M is for missional. Note the a and the l. Missional is different from mission. Mission has historically been, “I, over there.” In other words, individuals sent to other countries. Missional is about, “we, here.” In other words, the whole church sent to the context in which it is planted. Mission often had the odour our cultural imperialism, the belief in superiority. Missional has a humble questing belief that being sent to the towns and villages relies on our ability to be changed.

N is for Newbigin. A bishop in India for many years, who returning in retirement to his home in Birmingham, was shocked by what he saw. He wrote a chain of books, wrestling with the realisation that he had left a Christian nation but was returning to a non-Christian nation. It was he who first gave voice to the question: “Can the West be won?” The missional conversation continues to wrestle with Newbigin’s question.

N is also for narratives. When you sit at tables, you hear stories. Stories name identity, values and worldviews. They carry culture. In other words, stories are what you hear as you L for listen and D for discern.

More links
For A to H of missional conversation, go here.
For an A to Z of emerging church, go here

Posted by steve at 01:15 PM

5 Comments

  1. I’m enjoying the ‘alphabet’ so far Steve,

    It strikes me as you recorded the Newbigin-esq question under ‘N’ that it was a question asked to him by an Indonesian leader (and military General). It was an observation of someone from the 2/3rds world about the West. How we must be open to voices from the majority world where often there is real wisdom but we are too brash to give them voice.

    W stands for Warney!

    Andrew

    Comment by Andrew — January 22, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  2. Thanks for the alphabet, very informative to someone like me who is unfamiliar with terms such as ‘emergent’ and ‘missional.’ There are some ‘letters’ or ideas that I could really say “Yes, great, at last!” to, some that I think will/are very challenging and some I’m not so sure about. Thanks for the food for thought Steve. Oh and Andrew, as I’m afraid for ‘W’ I will suggest W is for Wiki – a collaborative, evolving journey :)

    Comment by Jack — January 22, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

  3. this is great so far, Steve

    Your A to Z of the Emerging church was one of the best introductory sources for my B.Th research paper – comprehensive and honest. This A to Z is yet another quality guide and discussion-starter for newcomers and seasoned missional thinkers!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Comment by Deborah Taggart — January 22, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  4. this is great so far, Steve

    Your A to Z of the Emerging church was one of the best introductory sources for my B.Th research paper – comprehensive and honest. This A to Z is yet another quality guide and discussion-starter for newcomers and seasoned missional thinkers!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Comment by Deborah Taggart — January 22, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  5. Steve – As always, totally brilliant stuff… and not just because you mention Canadians :)

    Comment by Pernell — January 23, 2008 @ 6:53 am

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