Thursday, May 18, 2006

emerging AD:missions 5

emergingadmission1.jpg a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking.

MASS CONVERSIONS: Readings in World Mission, page 9-10.

In this reading we gain insight into baptism in missionary settings. Firstly, ramp up the worship by using the senses. “The church was resplendent with banners, flickering candles and the scent of wax and incense, so that those present believed that they partook of the savor of heaven.” No, not multi-sensory or alt.worship, but baptism in the 5th century. Using all the senses in worship is nothing new. It’s just that the church became captive to the culture and let modernity strip us of our senses.

Secondly, practice catechesis. In a missionary context, instruction was placed before baptism. This year at Opawa we’ve ramped up our catechesis, and used the ancient creedal formulation – do you follow Jesus, do you repent of your sin, do you renounce evil – as the basis for our baptismal instruction.

Thirdly, mission as less than ideal. But this reading leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Conversion comes because the king prayed to God for victory in battle. So, how many people died? How to reconcile “Blessed are the peacemakers” with this missionary narrative?

Perhaps the lesson is that faith is not found in ideals, but between rocks and hard places. Is this where the emerging church is located, in the hard places of people’s lives? Are we messy and provisional? Or are we stuck with our theories of postmodernity, youth spirituality and imaginary conversations with Neo?

For an introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here.
For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 01:15 PM


  1. ‘imaginary conversations with Neo’ made me laugh out loud!

    This week I’ve been reading Bede’s History of the Church in England and have been struck by the careful thinking and planning that Gregory and Augustine put into their mission at the coalface of a very messy early Britain. Gregory advises Augustine not to destroy pagan temples but to build on them and reinvent pagan customs in Christian ways. “He is to destroy the idols, but the temples themselves are to be aspersed with holy water, altars set up, and relics enclosed in them…In this way we hope that the people, seeing its temples are not destroyed, may abandon idolatry and may resort to these places as before, and may come to know and adore the true God. And since they have a custom of sacrificing many oxen to devils, let some other solemnity be substituted in its place, such as a day of Dedication or the Festivals of the Holy Martyrs whose relics might be enshrined there. On such occasions they might well construct shelters of boughs for themselves around churches that were once temples, and celebrate the solemnity with devout feasting. They are no longer to sacrifice beasts to the Devil, but they may kill them for food to praise God…For it is certainly impossible to eradicate all errors from obstinate minds at one stroke, and whoever wishes to climb to a mountain top climbs gradually step by step and not in one leap.” A messy (some would say syncretistic) mission for a difficult coalface!

    Comment by Andrew — May 18, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  2. yeah, i was actually quite chuffed with the neo line :).

    you’ve jumped the gun with gregory and augustine, that is coming up in a few postings time …. stolen all the thunder … i’ll have to go and consult mr neo again.

    Comment by steve — May 18, 2006 @ 7:15 pm

  3. Woops! Sorry!:)

    Comment by Andrew — May 19, 2006 @ 9:17 am

  4. no worries. perhaps you could do a guest blogpost for that entry when it comes up?

    i have wondered about ways to have anyone who wants to, to contribute posts on each reading. it would be better to have a communal discussion rather than a steve discussion.

    Comment by steve — May 19, 2006 @ 10:24 am

  5. I think it is communal via comments. I think that people come to read what “grist for the mill” steve has reflected on and through time trust you and your blog community and want to engage with you and your blog community. I don’t know what your thoughts are but I sense blogging is an offering you bring before people and an invitation to a conversation. It’s not a Steve discussion, even when people don’t comment on a post as they often go away chewing your offering with friends or in their heads or using it (ethically i.e. acknowledging the source) in sermons or what have you. Often I’ll read a blog post someone puts up and within the first sentence decide this isn’t what I’m interested in right now but I’ll return to read their next blog post because I trust them and the offerings they give.

    Is this the sort of thing you mean in terms of trying to make it a more communal discussion or did you mean something else?

    p.s. hopefully not too many people have read the comments and you’ll be able to bring your offering on augustine and gregory:)

    Comment by Andrew — May 19, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

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