Thursday, April 21, 2011

Synchroblog: Missional theology and Churches of Christ

I was thinking last night (as I tossed and turned without sleep) about other challenges Churches of Christ face in light of missional impulses. Most are not unique to us. We have very little sense of what it means to be church on someone else's home turf. And the days of if we build they will come are largely over. But again, this is true across ecclesial traditions.

So, is there something uniquely challenging to Churches of Christ? Probably several things. I will note one here. Missional church begins with theology. We're after the missio Dei (mission of God), which means we are immediately into the questions of God. And we have not paid much attention to these questions over the years.

Specifically, we have avoided any kind of explicit Trinitarian theology. And since the World Wars, we have been pretty much devoid of any meaningful eschatology. Trinity and eschatology form the heart of missional theology, so at the very least we have some catching up to do (and many thankfully are taking up these conversations among us).

The problems, however, go beyond just needing to be conversant in certain theological themes. Our theology, or lack thereof, sponsors a certain view of the world. In our worship, evangelism, community service, and the like we are enacting our theology in many ways. Apart from changing our imagination about God and God's relationship with the world, missional will only be a call to more busyness doing good. And I think that's one of the things that's killing our churches now.


Scott Ferguson said...

Another thought on the topic:

...and if that's not a live link, my apologies for not knowing how to do that in this format.

Jeff Davis said...


Maybe you have moved on from these posts, but a few questions came up as I read. You said busyness is killing our churches. I agree, but what do you see is giving them life?

Also, in Missional thinking do you have to have an identifiable ecclesial tradition, like CofC, Lutheran, Quaker, or Methodist? I am not advocating for pretending we don't have a history/heritage (as non-denomination churches do and our early history did), but at what point do you say this is something different. Can multi-denominational churches/communities exist? I wondering about when different traditions or even different faiths come together if that forces you to start with epistemology, particularly ways of knowing God? Or can you still start with social location and then move to doing theology in the midst of community?