Tag Archives: David Bosch

Missional Church, Ch. 1

I have recently began reading Missional Church:  A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America that was written by several authors.  I decided to start blogging about write I read as a sort of journal because I feel that I read a lot of books but don’t retain very much of it, so maybe this will help.  I thought I would at least give it a try with this book.

Chapter 1 “Missional Church – From Sending to Being Sent” – gives an overview for the rest of the book but also lays down the basic assumptions, bias, and perspectives that the authors are coming from.  They don’t pretend to offer an objective study of how to fix the church and the church’s relationship with American culture.  Rather, they start from a profound belief in Missio Dei (mission of God) and influenced by British missionary/theologian Leslie Newbigin (p.3).  Missio Dei means that from the start mission is God’s mission, it is His activity in the world.  That from the beginning God has been restoring and healing creation.  It began with His call of Israel and reached a climax in the incarnation and ensuing life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  It continues today through the work of the church and the Holy Spirit.

They argue that this simple shift in thinking creates an enormous shift in our theology and ecclesiology because we now see God as a “missionary God” and the church as a “sent people” (p.4).  Darrell Guder, the author of this chapter, quotes David Bosch:  “Mission (is)understood as being derived from the very nature of God.  It (is) thus put in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, not of ecclesiology or soteriology.  The classical doctrine of the missio Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit (is) expanded to include yet another “movement”:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world.”

Guder argues that the church in America today is not missional and must be transformed to become missional.  Today’s churches are based in Christendom, a time period where the church was shaped because of its dominant role in a society that considered itself officially Christian.  This is no longer the case as the church now exists in a postmodern, multicultural context.  So the basic question no becomes:  “What would an understanding of the church (an ecclesiology) look like if it were truly missional in design and definition.”  Thus the basic question of the book.

They also lay out five characteristics of a faithfully missional ecclesiology (11-12):

  • A missional ecclesiology is biblical…
  • A missional ecclesiology is historical…
  • A missional ecclesiology is contextual…
  • A missional ecclesiology is eschatological…
  • A missional ecclesiology can be practiced, that is, it can be translated into practice…

The rest of the chapter is a sort of overview of the rest of the book, chapter by chapter.  I am excited after the first chapter because I agree with Guder when he states that we need to read the Scriptures through a missional hermeneutic.  Which means to read and interpret scripture from the position that God deeply loves all of creation and wants to heal and restore that creation.  From this basic understanding we must agree that mission can no longer be just a program of the church, in the form of outreach or foreign missions.  Instead, mission “defines the church as God’s sent people” and “either we are defined by mission, or we reduce the scope of the gospel and the mandate of the church” (6).  “Thus our challenge today is to move from church with mission to missional church” (6).

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Definition of Missions

I was reading through Transforming Mission again this week and found this definition of mission that I really enjoyed:

Mission therefore means being involved in the ongoing dialogue between God, who offers his salvation, and the world, which – enmeshed in all kinds of evil – craves that salvation. (Bosch, p.400).

The qoute acknowledges that first and foremost mission is above all God’s mission (missio Dei).  He is reaching and at work in the world.  It is because loving the world with the Gospel of Grace was first God’s mission that we the church are able to do so, both in word and action.  That is the other reason I like the quote so much, it is broad enough that it does not give priority to word or deed in defining mission.  For so long the church has tried to give an order of importance when it comes to mission.  Do we preach the Gospel or do we live in such a way that fights for justice and love our enemies as ourselves?  We must realize that you can no longer separate the two.  There is no either/or.  It is time that Christians “repudiate as demonic the attempt to drive a wedge between evangelism and social concern.” (Bosch, p.406).

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existing for those outside

Since I began my internship at Crosspoint Church I have learned a lot about loving those outside of the church.  Wayne has taught Amber and I so much about the church existing for those outside of its walls.  For instance, a couple weeks ago when time changed our college small group went out into the community to hand out free coffee packets.  We told them it was for some extra caffeine in the morning!  We also gave them a card that read “We hope this small act of kindness brings some light into your day.  Its our way of saying God loves you, no strings attached.  Let us know if we can be of more assistance.”  People really enjoyed it!  Many of them laughed and were surprised.

Over Christmas I received Transforming Mission by David Bosch.  The book is enormous so I skipped to the good parts that I wanted to read!  One section is about churches becoming more missional, in their actions and theology (missional is certainly a buzz word today, but this book was written in the early 90s by a guy from South Africa, so that makes it even more interesting!).  Bosch notes the there is an emerging shift in the way the church approaches mission.  Instead of missions being something that the church sends people to do, it is becoming what the church is.  He claims that today the “church is not the sender but the one sent.”  We are being sent not to comfort ourselves and better ourselves, but be a light in our own communities.  One that is the source of love, justice, and forgiveness.  A humble entity where community is authentic and always accepting.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.”  That means we must find creative, loving ways to be a light in our community.  Many times we have the attitude that people should come to us instead of us going to/finding them.  The church should not be so arrogant but rather imitate Jesus, who when a sheep went missing went out to find it at all costs.

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