This is part one of a multi-part set of musings exploring what it mean s to be a missional community of faith in the context of post-Christendom. You’ll need to read the post to understand what I mean, but it’ll be worth the read. Trust me.
Our journey is a courageous missional engagement where we seek to live out the gospel within its cultural context rather than perpetuating an institutional commitment apart from its cultural context. We affirm our deep commitment to historic, orthodox Christian faith, and we hope people will not be thrown by what might be viewed as a somewhat unorthodox approach to life, mission, and church.
It might be possible for an established church to plant a missional congregation within its broader church structures, but the inertia of our inherited church formations and functions tend to keep the focus of “ministry” upon those already inside of the church community. Our desire is to be missional as a central part of what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus Christ. It is our hope that existing congregations would sponsor and support by way of blessing new congregations from their doorstep to reach those not interested in the conventional church—or put more accurately, conventional church culture.
We hope to base discipleship and life in our postmodern world around a vital Christology and to reframe our ecclesiology entirely on missional grounds. This is an intentional movement away from Christendom, where the church is viewed as being in favor as part of the dominant culture. We desire to recover our ecclesiastic role as a subversive, missionary movement that operates not in the center but on the margins of society.
The advent of postmodernism has raised within the West many expectations for an experiential, activist form of religious, mystical experience. The Christian church has not met these expectations. The contemporary traditional church is increasingly seen as the least likely option for those seeking an artistic, politically subversive, activist community of mystical faith, which is becoming the primary posture of “spiritual seekers” within our western cultural context. We desire to establish a Christian community of faith that will engage people with a postmodern and post-Christendom heartbeat.
Our missional community of faith seeks to discern God’s specific missional vocation for the entire community and for its members. “What has God called us to be and do in our current cultural context?” The issue of cultural context is essential because the missional church shapes itself to fit that context in order to transform it for the sake of the kingdom of God. The content remains the same (5 solas); the form is what needs to be continually remade into contextually accessible modes of communication and meaning.
While in reality we are in a post-Christendom context, the Western church still operates for the most part in a Christendom mode. Constantine, it seems, is still the emperor of our imaginations. What is needed is the abandonment of the strict lines of demarcation between the sacred and profane spaces in our world and the recognition that people today are searching for relational communities that offer belonging, empowerment, and redemption. It is the “redemptive” dynamic of the Christian community that sets us apart from other cultural communities of belonging and empowerment. Christ makes all the difference.
(to be continued…)