Saturday, March 03, 2007

Missional Church 2

In his excellent book, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch defines the Missional Church in this manner:

A community of God's people that defines itself, and organizes its life around, it real purpose of being an agent of God's mission in the world. In other words, the church's true and authentic organizing principle is mission. (82)

This definition is rooted in the idea of the Missio Dei: the mission of God. The Triune God is on mission to redeem and restore all of his creation. This mission has been unfolding since the fall and will come to completion at the return of Christ. Central to the Missio Dei is the redemption of individual persons. But the mission is larger than that. God's mission has to do with the flourishing and restoring of all of life; all of creation. It has to do with what Martin Luther called the restoring of a trustworthy creation. The church is God's agent of this mission between Christ's ascension and his return. The church is a proleptic sign of the eschaton -- the coming Kingdom. The church carries out this mission while gathered and scattered.

The central question a missional church asks is, "What is God doing in and around us and how does God want us to participate in that?" Some of what God wants is revealed in scripture. Each Christian to grow in holiness, the poor are to be served, new disciples are to be made, worship in word and sacrament is to happen. But what those, and other things like them, will look like in a particular context will involve discernment and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

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