Thursday, June 07, 2007

missional church and missional agencies part 2

Hi. I’m on the run, needing to be in the lecture room in a few hours, all made worse by my flight from Rotorua to Christchurch being cancelled. I hope to post some further reflections, but in the meantime, the following worked really well.

As part of my presentation I wanted to engage with Scripture. So my partner made up 4 postcards with the words: “I am learning that mission is ….”. The first postcard had to be written at Luke 10:4; the second postcard at Luke 10:7; the third at Acts 10:23; the fourth at Acts 10:47. I got people in groups around each postcard. (The postcards are here)

It seemed to work really well in terms of helping people enter the text and think about mission. Which of course sets up The Question: so where is the mission agency in Luke 10 and Acts 10?

And at that point, there was a quiet silence in the room, because the answer is …

Posted by steve at 04:34 PM


  1. on another note, dont we have teams in any fellowship to acheive certain tasks? whether flower arranging or playing instruments, or putting things out for others?

    I think, that the place we go wrong is to articially separate church and para church, we are all church, and perhaps its just the language we use that is unhelpful, as it has changed thinking.

    The church still needs people with particular skills and abilities to help others in some areas.

    Or am I missing the point? (wouldnt be the first time :))

    Comment by simon cross — June 8, 2007 @ 2:22 am

  2. steve, i’m trying to get my head around your discomfort with all this…

    i know that luke 10 and acts 10 are a model for mission, but you seem to be saying they are the only model. i’m wondering how you’ve come to that conclusion.

    Comment by cheryl — June 8, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  3. hi cheryl,
    i’m trying to get my head around all this also. i use luke 10 a lot with various groups in terms of missional church, cos i find it subverts a whole lot of stuff – the text invites us to learn from the culture, to engage wholistically, to see holiness in our culture not in church … etc, it’s just wonderfully subversive and i personally like to sit with bible texts that hurting my head.

    i added in acts 10 for the first time at this presentation cos it is a post-Pentecost text and yet also has the same themes — to learn from the culture, to engage wholistically, to see holiness in our culture not in church.

    i then made the following links
    1: in david boschs’ book transforming mission he talks about different mission eras and how they have different bible texts that shape them. so I ask, what might be the text that shapes our postmodern mission? and could that be Luke 10?

    2: i read bevans contansts in context and he talks about the modern mission society as born from modernity. so I think, wow, that leaves them open to an aweful lot of critique as our culture shifts.

    now i am not a terribly logical thinker and i tend to make random connections and it might be that all of this is too random. but it has left me thinking aloud — how will mission society function in a post- reality. i have spent a lot of my last years thinking about church and mission; so am now trying to wrap my head around mission agency and church and mission.

    does that make any sense?


    Comment by steve — June 8, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  4. simon, interesting point.

    it invites the following question:
    historically the agency has sets itself up as “parachurch.” that is the essential definition of the modern mission society. it does not want to say “we are the church” both cos it needs the churches resources and because it wants to be focused and tight in a way that the church is not ie it wants to reach students on a campus or people group in bangladesh.

    So, what does it then do with the church: either the church it plants, or the church it seeks to be “para” from.


    Comment by steve — June 8, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  5. Hi Steve, (your excellency) yeah I guess you’re right. But isnt this distinction a bit like the distinction that says unless you are part of a distinct local church fellowship, you arent part of the church (ie not a Christian)? Which often has something to do with money too I think.

    Also you’re right to say its a modern distinction, premodern and postmodern understandings wouldnt necessarily have such an delineation.



    Comment by Simon Cross — June 8, 2007 @ 6:25 pm

  6. Hi Steve,
    Great to meet you at MI 7 (I was the red-head). Thanks for your challenging session.

    I tend to agree with Simon in wondering if differentiating between church and para church is a false dichotomy. My ecclesiology sees church in a group that meets in a house (like we were involved in in Guayaquil Ecuador), in a group that meets in a church building (like the group we are with in NZ) and in a community of believers that partners with other communities to send / recieve in cross-cultural mission (could this include an agency like the one I am part of?). To me all these are expressions of church and part of the wider body of Christ. Perhaps what we are doing right now is church of the blog? You asked us where is mission agency in Luke & Acts 10. Well in Luke you have 72 disciples send out in pairs by Jesus and in Acts 9:32 you have Peter travelling around the country with a few friends. In Acts 10 God directs him to Cornelius. In Acts 11 when he goes up to Jerusalem he is hassled by some of the believers there. But it is not clear if he was directly “sent” by that congregation or not or how the friends related to the wider church (did they volunteer?). Yet I wonder if both “local church” and “misison agency” might have trouble answering the question where are they in these chapters because perhaps we are asking the text an anachronistic question that it wasn’t designed to answer. What we do see is groups of disciples participating together in Misio Dei and the result being new groups of believers in other towns and cities. So how can we partner together in what God is doing in local and cross-cultural situations? may be a good question. But thanks for challeging us with the question, too easily we take for granted our role.

    The other questions we asked of the text about how we go about mission are both permission giving and challenging to us all.

    Thanks heaps, the session was extremely stimulating and I am still thinking about agency as abbott, global worship resourcer & myspace.

    Comment by Negrito — June 9, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

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