Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Synchroblog: Missional Challenges to the Churches of Christ

One brief point tonight related to our blog topic for the day.

Historically speaking, church has been topic number one for Churches of Christ. It has been important for use to identify "marks" of the church that would allow us to stand in one-to-one comparison with New Testament churches. The idea of the missional church pretty much blows this kind of approach out of the water.

First, the missional church assumes that the church serves the mission of God, not the other way around. A missional maxim that I like goes like this: It's not the church has a mission, but rather that the mission has a church. To make the shift from being church-centered to mission-centered is no small shift. Because I've done it this way, I know that an extraordinary amount of energy goes into furthering the institutional concerns of the church. The church, its programs, numbers, members, etc, become the point. Our structures, forms, programs, leadership styles are all the product of a church centered imagination. We're not alone in this. All congregations that have defined themselves in the broad wake of Christendom have tended to imagine things this way. But we have kind of specialized in this kind of approach to thing. The missional impulse significantly challenges that way of thinking.


Jeff said...
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Jeff said...

Seems to me that in this post "church" means something like "local religious institution with a defined location, physical plant, organization," etc. rather than (as I'd think EKKLHSIA means in the NT) "community of believers and disciples." You're of course right that most attempts to foster the latter in our lifetime have involved building and maintaining the former, and I'm open to considering whether that should change. But one wouldn't say that "the community of believers and disciples doesn't have a mission, the mission has a community of believers and disciples," would one? (Hope I'm doing more than quibbling here . . . )

Mark Love said...

I think one might, Jeff. A community of believers and disciples still might not see their vocation in relation to the world. Either way, you have a legit point that measures the imaginative distance between the notion of church most perform (whether they would define it that way or not) and what is in view when you talk about a missional church.