I have a feeling that in church world the noughties will get remembered as the decade when mission got brought back on the agenda wholeheartedly.
What began with alt worship and asking how do we reach ‘Gen X’ (remember that?…) morphed into a much bigger and important missiological question – who are we as the church and what are we doing anyway? It doesn’t get any bigger!
While different ecclesiologies came at their understanding of mission from their different perspectives, we increasingly agreed that the church needed to move from a fairly passive and programmatic approach to outreach into a much broader and holistic understanding of how we engage in the world as the people of God. Mission moved well beyond pure evangelism and proselytism and became concerned with the whole of the gospel, with the environment, the poor and with everyday life to name a few areas.
Still not all would share the idea of the ‘gospel of the kingdom’, seeing it as in conflict with the ‘gospel of the cross’, (I see them integrated) but my own framework and thinking expanded significantly to be able to see some of God’s bigger picture and what that meant for our mission.
FWIW, I still find the term ‘missional church’ an absurdity – like a ‘goal kicking football team’ – or a ‘stand up surfer’ (boogers are not real surfers 🙂 ), but obviously it was the correction we had to have because we had become so inward looking and self focused.
But now I am wondering if we are ‘moving on’?…
I don’t mean that in the sense that we no longer care about mission, but rather that we have sufficiently ‘got it’ and are in the process of implementing, so the conversation is now less pertinent or stimulating. This could just be my own experience as I find less desire to think/blog/discuss in the area of mission but I sense it may be wider.
I remember being part of local missional networks, blogger chats and all sorts of forums online and offline in the early noughties, but no one seems to want these forums these days. I remember when missional thinking that challenged established paradigms met with vociferous opposition, but these days our own Baptist publications from Crossover encourage and endorse a much broader missiology than ever before.
Of course, let’s not think we all mean the same thing when we use the word ‘mission’, but I don’t think you could talk with a church leader anywhere these days who is ignorant of the missional conversation. A fair swag of churchgoers are keyed into it too, but not to the same extent.
While the idea of ‘engaging with the world’, ‘sending people’ to their local communities and ‘mission’ rather than ‘missions’ (overseas) did meet with some opposition, we now seem to be over that hump. The innovators and early adopters have done their work and in typical change mode the ‘crowd’ and the ‘laggards’ are coming along.
So I find myself wondering if God is up to something else. While we get on with the job of being the missional communities we have spoken about for so long what is he brewing up in the background and what will he challenge us with next?
Is it just me?…