Over the last few days an interesting discussion has been taking place on the yahoo ‘reframe’ list concerning this thing called ’emerging missional church’. My friend and co-worker Geoff has posted his thoughts on his blog.

Funnily enough my thoughts are quite different – yet we both live and operate in similar ways…

Here’s my post:

Words are very slippery.

As an ex phys ed teacher I often wondered what I would call my kids because after 10 years of teaching so many names had come to have such negative connotations… there is no way I would ever call a boy ‘Derek’, after the Derek I taught few years back.

Reality is you may like Derek as a name. I don’t. I’m not sure I ever will”

When it come to words to describe things I think they do matter, but the meaning or nuances we attach to words depends so much on our experience and understanding of them.

Up until a few weeks back I wouldn’t have given you two bob for the term ’emerging missional church’, as it seemed to have such a vague meaning. I have always been content to describe our work as ‘missionaries in our own backyard’, however the more I have pondered the term EMC the more it sits very well with me.


Emerging – this was the bit I really didn’t like, but” now I actually hope I am always part of the ’emerging’ church – the church that is constantly adapting and taking stock of where it is at. If we are a missionary people then that is an imperative because the world is always shifting. I hope that I will be the 85 year old guy at church who supports the changes the young 50 year old pastor wants to bring in even if I don’t always understand them, because I appreciate the fact that the world changes and we need to adjust our stance too if we are to engage with it.

I hope any church I lead (I’m ok with ‘leadership’ as a word too J) will be constantly ’emerging’. I sense that the moment we stop emerging we ossify. So from seeing it as a ‘nothing’ word I have actually come full circle. I also like its earthing in emergence theory, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence ) with a sense of something coming together that is from the people and not orchestrated from above.

Missional – again this is a difficult word because it’s the ‘in’ word. Everybody is missional now – even if they’re not. But as one who feels his specific calling is to be a ‘missionary’ in Australia its simply an adjective for who I feel I am. (And yes, missionary is a word with heavy baggage too!)

In my experience it doesn’t have the same ‘combative’ tones Geoff mentioned, but perhaps that’s where our paths have differed. Or maybe it’s also that I view and approach mission in a different way? (Then again maybe we don’t – but the word resonates differently for us)

If mission is sharing God’s love with the world then let’s be missional churches – we can’t not be. I sense for some that ‘missional’ with an intentional edge to it feels abrasive or intrusive. However Jesus was the one who came to ‘seek and save what was lost’ – a very intentional act, the one who sent the disciples out in twos to preach the kingdom of God etc. And if Paul or the early apostles are any kind of models, then intentional strategic mission (with a very pointy end sometimes) has some strong roots in scripture.

Church – so” this is also a loaded word, but again I am for redeeming it rather than ditching it. As the body of Christ – his representatives here on earth we are ‘the church’. (I appreciate Geoff’s take on this, but I also see other images of the body throughout scripture.)

Again I have had very positive experiences of church all thru life and have developed great love for ‘the church’. I sense part of my own calling is to be about developing expressions of church that resonate with the people in my neighbourhood and in that I am very content.

Actually as ‘Upstream Communities’ in Brighton, we see ourselves very clearly as a missionary team – much like any overseas mission team – there to do mission and see indigenous faith communities develop. If the EMC is simply about funky new ways to do ‘post-modern’ church then I’ll pass on it. ‘Funky’ churches don’t produce disciples of Jesus Christ any more than meat and two veg churches.

Hopefully as those of us who are exploring new ways of doing mission express ourselves in different ways we will discover healthy ways to make authentic disciples of Jesus. That’s gotta be the end game.

So”all these words sit well with me and they are an accurate description of my experience.

Will we ever find words that fit perfectly our lives and experiences?

I doubt it!

So while it definitely matters what words we choose, we also need to simply step back and appreciate that words that resonate with you may not with me and vice-versa.


Here’s a thought…

I have been developing what I consider to be my own personal understanding of mission – how I see it biblically and practically and trying to shape it into a ‘model’ of sorts.

One of the exercises this weekend is for the crew to take a maximum of 5 of these words and shape a model / flow chart for mission that is well grounded biblically and practically. Mine has morphed over the last few years to a point where I now feel reasonably confident with it.

If you’d like to have a go… the words are:

obedience, guilt, love, inspiration, action, serving, presence, relationship, proclamation, hell, heaven, Jesus, conversion, death, life, passion, witnessing, church, sin, grace, bridge (just in case you need it 🙂

Last time I shared my model I realised it needing modifying so we’ll see how it shapes up this time.

sweet november online

Off to Kalgoorlie

This weekend I head out to the wild west of WA for a couple of days in Kalgoorlie.

I’ll be hooking up with the 24-7 house church network and doing some ‘forgish’ type stuff focusing on mission and evangelism what shape that takes especially for house churches.

I’m loking forward to the opportunity to meet a bunch of people who have been re-discovering church in a very different context.

The Mission

Perhaps its just my own sense calling to be a missionary, but The Mission is one of my favourite movies – one of the few I actually own and I watched it again today.

Its a beautiful movie, but also incredibly powerful with themes of incarnation, justice and love all thru it.

The penance / grace scene is brilliant when De-Niro drags his weapons all the way to the top of the falls to be set free by the Huarani. The closing scene is also a reminder that the gospel is bigger than all of us as the remaining children gather up the remains of the church and set off to start over.

But the big question it always raises for me is what would I do?… Would I be a Father Rodgriguez type and fight, or a Father Gabriel type and simply walk away?

I find both inspiring because they act on what they truly believe even at great cost. In the end neither ‘succeeds’, but the motives of both were honourable. Rodriguez believes that deadly force is ok to protect innocent people while Gabriel believes force should never be used. Both die.

all that heaven allows download free

I think I’d probably side with Rodriguez…

If you haven’t seen it then do yourself a favour!

And Now From Bonhoeffer

"During the last year or so, I have come to appreciate the "worldliness" of Christianity as never before.

The Christian is not a homo religiosus but a man, pure and simple, just as Jesus became man… It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to believe. One must abandon every attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, a converted sinner, a churchman, a righteous man, or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one…

This is what I mean by worldliness — taking life in one’s stride, with all its duties and problems, its successes and failures, its experiences and helplessness… How can success make us arrogant or failure lead us astray, when we participate in the sufferings of God by living in this world?"

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Wisdom from Oscar Romero

"Every moment and every situation challenges us to action and to obedience.

We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbor or not. We must get into action and obey — we must behave like a neighbor to him.

But perhaps this shocks you.

Perhaps you still think you ought to think out beforehand and know what you ought to do. To that, there is only one answer. You can only know and think about it by actually doing it. It is no use asking questions; for it is only through obedience that you come to learn the truth."

divx journey into fear

Great value

This bloke has some great things to say on thinking and living like a missionary here in the first world.

Phillip has written some great stuff on New Age / alternative spiritualities and was a great help to us when we put a stall in our own local healing festival.

His latest post is a great image of contextualised Chinese Christ C06_1images. Phil says:

"New Zealanders and Australians might like to reflect on "how to de-Europeanise Jesus in our south-western Pacific contexts". In what ways does a Europeanised version of Jesus need to be renovated for today’s Europe? How does globalisation impact on our images and depictions of Jesus?"

Here he is calling Zacchaeus.


I obviously haven’t had too many thoughts to offer lately, but here’s a quote from Miroslav Volf, via James that I am thinking about.

"There is no church without the reign of God and there is no reign of God without the church."