Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Almost Church Revitalized, and a digression on the word missional


Good stuff through and through. His term public church is pretty much what we use for missional community.

Reminds me that I had a conversation with a friend and colleague about the word "missional" and "mission" and they were saying they had been warned by seminary faculty member against using the term because it evokes colonial imperialism and all that bad stuff that missionaries did/do. They wondered if I ever thought about things like that in using the term.

I vaguely remember having a second thought about it once upon a time; but immersed in the language just didn't give it much of a second thought. And then I was at a meeting where a minister said pretty much the same thing that she was American Indian and couldn't stand the word mission because of all that baggage it carried with it.

I guess coming from Oklahoma I just don't think about the word that way because being in and around the American Indian culture for so long it seems like someone else's issue, though I can certainly see an alternative phrase like the serving church or community, etc. since that is the way the term missional has come to be used in the movement; it is in fact the opposite of the old way of doing mission work; see Vincent Donovan's Christianity Reconsidered for a classic text on all this back in the day before the missional church became a thing unto itself.

Mostly though when I speak the word missional I am thinking first and foremost of its Greek roots; that is what comes to mind. Missio. To be sent. It is not the church of come to us, but the church of being sent into the world, to love the world, and help unleash the transformation of love and justice in the world. Missio, going forth without staff to serve, to be a holy fool, to make good things happen wherever and whenever you are.

I guess the word missional might scare some progressives for another, perhaps deeper reason, than imperialism though; it might evoke serious committment to the world right outside your comfort zone; evoke depth of purpose, mission and missional echoing back to the core that it is The Mission that calls the church into being itself, not the other way around with the church trying to find and name and proclaim its own mission.

The good thing is that we can help words heal themselves. The best way to undo the damage of the word, if damage there is in the word missional, is to so use the word until its original and truer sense is the one most thought of again. It is like how I say that the best way to help someone heal who has been hurt in the name of Jesus is for a healing understanding relationship from someone else in the name of Jesus.

What does all this have to do with the wonderful work by Michael Durall? Not much I suppose. I will try to blog later on his 5 Heresies. Or go to the link and check it out there and elsewhere. And though it is geared to the UU culture; my friends in mainline churches will find much to resonate with them as well.

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