Friday, May 13, 2005


Mission -- the missio dei -- is trinitarian. Our understanding of who God is as trinity is not rooted in abstract philisophical reflection on who God is or should be. The trinitarian understanding emerged in history as God unveiled himself in space and time. God's self-revelation is missional at its heart. We know God because of God's acts. God's acts are about creation and redemption (or re-creation). Those are missional things. Hence to know God is to know him through his missionality (is that a word?).

This is why the church is missional. Not because it is a better way of doing church. It is because of who God is. This is why mission comes before the church -- because God comes before the church and God is missional. What God is doing in the world (i.e., the unveiling of his kingdom) is larger than what God is doing in the church. The church -- like the incarnate Son -- is a sign and witness of the Kingdom.

The tricky thing is to figure what this looks like. One thing I am beginning to think -- and this will be controversial -- is that much of the emerging church is not missional in the sense that I understand missional. In many cases, the emerging church still sees the church as coming before mission and that new forms are better ways of doing what it is that christendom churches do -- make better disciples, have more effective community, experience real transformation. But these are byproducts of entering into the mission of God.

Think of the 12 disciples. Jesus did not set out firstly to form a community that would form disciples. He firstly set out to be a sign and witness to the Kingdom (i.e., do mission). He invited people to join him in that mission. It was through joining Jesus in his mission that a community formed around Jesus and the mission of Jesus expanded through this band of missionaries. It was a community. They were transformed. But these things came as by products of joining the mission of Jesus.

I have a lot to learn about this -- and if I am living it at all I am just taking initial baby steps. But I am praying that I will learn to live missionally and then learn how to lead a community of faith in that direction. God help me as I work on it.

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