Tuesday, April 10, 2007

critical missional issues in the emerging church

I am flying up to Auckland tomorrow to lecture a Masters intensive course titled Critical Missional issues: Emerging church. I am doing 3 days this week, and 4 days in October. (More info about the course is here.)

In the course I will be asking students to read the emerging church by analysing the everyday practices of local emerging church communities, rather than relying on the books and the blogs. I am then flagging what I think are some critical missional issues facing the emerging church.

Now, if you were teaching this course, what issues would you raise? What do you think are the critical missional issues facing the emerging church? (So as not to spoil your fun, I’ll wait until later in the week before telling you what I raised.)

Posted by steve at 06:54 PM


  1. Steve,

    I’d raise Avery Dulles three essential ingredients for a church to be a church and therefore missional people:

    1. Locality (geographic, social, local, etc)
    2. Relationality
    3. Permanence

    And because of the nature of the course you are teaching and the subjec matter I’d add one more?

    4. How is the ‘Homogeneous Unit Principal’ broken so as to maintain Kingdom authenticity?



    Comment by Andrew — April 10, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  2. safe travels Steve
    and I look forward to reading your post about it all

    Comment by jen — April 10, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  3. just found your blog a posts ago and have been enjoying it so far…have not been involved with the emerging church conversation long but would encourage people to talk about a few things:

    1) Outreach

    2)Humility with the scriptures[you may not know it all after all!]

    3) Agape Love

    4) community

    just a few anyway..

    Comment by jason77 — April 11, 2007 @ 3:10 am

  4. Kia ora Hipene,

    As I have been doing of late, I will come at it from an aboriginal/indigenous peoples perspective. How will non western, non white, non first world peoples be engaged in the emergent conversation ? New Zealand and Canada – where I’m living, are becoming increasingly more multi-cultural. Will their cultural perspective have a say as they emerge from their contexts and are confronted by post-modernity? Are we as people that have been raised in western society open to their cultural perspective on the gospel etc…. Do we think that they would have important things to say to us ?… Or do we think that our particular formation has more credence and they need to conform to us ?

    I’m aware of the dangers of syncretism – adopting ‘foreign’ philosophies, ideas, values and trying to make them ‘Christian’. For example : how Christians in the west or the first world have adopted democracy, consumerism, materialism, separatism, abuse of the environment etc. and basically made them ‘Christian’ Ideals, signs of Gods blessing. I’m talking more about contextualization – where the gospel is allowed to speak to a particular culture, permitted to be framed culturally, so that it is understood by those to whom it is speaking. Celtic Christianity is a great example of this – before it was reigned in and squelched by Rome.

    If Christ is allowed to be conceived in another culture, grow in the womb of another culture, once birthed, would we be open to hear from that unique perspective ? Who knows, maybe our blind spots might be revealed from a different perspective. I think these are important missional questions.

    Comment by Tangira — April 11, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  5. What an intelligent comment that last one was. I agree thoroughly.

    My suggestion would be, how does the emergent church encourage emergent expressions cross culturally? We are generally a culturally homogenous group.

    My second point, related to that is how does the emergent church relate to and work with other forms of church? New, and established.

    These are pretty plain points, cant wait to see what pearls you actually do bring out.

    Comment by Rhymin Simon — April 11, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  6. Hey Steve, on a separate topic, just wanted to mention that I used your tile painting along with moby idea, and it was a fantastic experience for everyone.


    Comment by Lon — April 12, 2007 @ 3:23 am

  7. I think what it means, in ideal and in practice, to be community is critical in this age of individualism. Any missionality that flows out of that individualism will inevitably be limited. The tension of being community within being insular is significant.

    Another critical issue is how we relate to the established church, both directly and in respect to how we publicly speak of them.

    Look forward to hearing what you have to say.


    Comment by Jamie Arpin-Ricci — April 12, 2007 @ 4:23 am

  8. Attempting to live out the “vital” inter-connection we have with one another (to use one of Paul’s metaphors). That is, how is an initial “we” established and what are the ramifications of someone belonging (who conforms to whom, for example). Generally, I’d encourage the “raising of the issue” of community, especially a local community.


    [Can’t wait for the next episode!]

    Comment by David Malouf — April 12, 2007 @ 6:30 am

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