Mission, Personal/Reflective

Best (& toughest) of both worlds

I just read a very worthwhile blog where Andrew Hamilton, director for Forge in Australia, wrote about 6 reasons not to quit the missional journey. Forge started and continues purely as a missional endeavor in suburban Austraila, whereas most congregations are Christendom-Enlightenment-based churches with all of the Western trappings.

As I am contemplating the possibilities w/ Ebenezer LBC (Minneaposlis), we might have the rare opportunity for the best – but toughest – of both worlds. My sense is that the leadership at Ebenezer is ready to embark on the missional journey. I’ll eventually find out where the congregation is at, but some will not be up for the trip. And for all of us, no matter how much we sense we have been transformed to recognize our environmental change from Christendom to a post-Christendom/post-modern context, we’ll still have some metrics that harken back to church-as-we’ve-known-it, or as Hamilton puts it: “…where the work is familiar and I know what I am doing, where at least there I can see the people in the ‘saucer’ coming along occasionally, where I get kudos for decent sermons and the size of the crowd makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile. It is familiar territory and safe.”

Can we do/be this? I guess we’ll see.



7 thoughts on “Best (& toughest) of both worlds

  1. Jim,

    The missional church changes into whatever the missionalist leaders desire. Pastor Todd brags about the Rock of Ages church of the CLB and how the missional emerging community in Fergus Falls is two years behind. If Todd and his gang in the CLB are able to achieve their desires, the CLB synod which they have successfully infiltrated, will be completely foreign to the founding fathers of the CLB and, most important, biblical doctrine. Contextual is only what the missionalists claim should be contextual and what is contextual for that community. Of course none of this helps the body of Christ. The missional church is just another man-made religion based upon a few select biblical passages infused with a “healthy” dose of multiculturalism, anti-westernism, anti-capitalism, anti-enlightenment, marxism, and relativism. It is a shame that Pastor Todd and his cohorts can’t start their own synod, instead they opted to take control of an existing synod and lead it into the darkness of missionalism. Congratulations Todd.

    Posted by David | December 8, 2007, 5:07 pm
  2. The “missional church” is changing into what exactly? Biblical doctrine defines what the followers of Christ believe. How is being “unrestrained” and having this “freedom” going to help the body of Christ?

    Posted by Jim Pierce | December 7, 2007, 12:34 am
  3. Guder states, “Neither the church nor its interpretive doctrine may be static. New biblical insights will convert the church and its theology; new historical challenges will raise questions never before considered; and new cultural contexts will require a witnessing response that redefines how we function and how we hope as Christians.” In other words, the missional church is ever-changing, unstable, and variable. It is fluid. It is contextual. Unrestrained by biblical doctrine. Freedom. Eternity will tell what that freedom will bring.

    Posted by David | December 2, 2007, 11:40 am
  4. Thank you for the response. It is interesting. Many things you are saying stand out for me, but most notably is the idea that somehow the people we are reaching out to have embraced post-modern thought. Quite honestly, I haven’t found very many people who understand what “post-modern” refers to, let alone understand the complexities found within post-modernist thinking. My point is anecdotal to be sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised that if a Gallup poll were conducted over what it means to be “post-modern” most people wouldn’t have an idea. Indeed, most well educated people probably never heard of Lyotard or Derrida. Why would the average perosn concern themselves with post-structuralism and deconstruction, for instance?

    This leads me to another point, which is that the Christians I am familiar with, who think of themselves as “emergent post-christians” have actually embraced the idea that truth is relative and that there is no “meta-narrative” for truth. They cheer at what they think is the death of “modern thinking” such as propositional logic, foundationalism, and moral absolutes. I have read some “emergent thinkers” who have even abandoned the idea that God’s word is authoratative for all people. The followers of emergent I am aware of prefer the idea that while Jesus is a sure route to God, He is not the only way to the Father. There are other paths. However, that point of view is in direct contradiction to the words of our Lord who clearly stated He is the only way to the Father. His words are certain knowledge for the believer.

    One final point. I was an atheist for around 18 years. I was immersed in the ideas that there is no absolute truth, that knowledge is an illusion, and morality is reducible to mob rules. However, God the Holy Spirit would change all of that for me by showing me how broken of a human being I actually am. Forgive me for my bluntness, I didn’t need a post-modern Christian message to bring me to my knees in repentance. It took the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to show me how dead in sin I truly was. It took the Holy Spirit to give me strength to accept a gift of faith whereby I could come to accept the life raising power of God’s grace and mercy. It was only then that I understood the truth. I prayed the Apostles Creed as my own. I am now a confessional Lutheran, because I believe that God directed me to a church that focuses on His word and rightly dividing law and gospel. Sound theology is important to me; not spinning neon-crosses and Hip-hop worship services. Each and every day I look forward to the liturgical style of worship service I attend on Sunday because it is a constant reminder to me of the universal Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I apoloize for the length of my response. I tend to get chatty about things I find very important. I want to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts here on your blog. Should you have any questions for me please don’t hesistate to shoot me an email.

    “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.” – Hebrews 13:7-9

    In Christ,


    Posted by Jim Pierce | September 7, 2007, 2:00 pm
  5. Jim,

    I’ve been on a hiatis from blogging during August and am just returning. Thanks for the engagement.

    Your comment actually confirms my proposition. I understand that philosophical streams form much earlier among philosophers and within the academy before they appear take root in the public consciousness (though Nietzsche and Kant may be more like “hpyer-modernists” to my thinking rather than post-modern). But your tracing of postmodern thought is helpful, especially the “hardened” truth postulation.

    I am NOT saying that Christianity is a “hardened truth” on parallel with any other “hardened truth.” What I am getting at is that the people with whom we wish to connect, love, and point toward Jesus Christ live with that “hardened truth” mentality. Christians (especially evangelicals) used to believe that their own personal testimony of faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and their redeemer would plow through any philosophical barrier. That is no longer the case. This “hardened truth” reality (or postmodern context) allows folks to say, “Well that is fine for you” – meaning that that is “your” reality, whereas their own reality is, well, their own, and stands as valid as yours or any other. It is precisely THIS context that can baffle or deflect any sincere witness of Jesus Christ as God’s Son and savior, and the Christian church is slowly awakening to this reality. Will it be willing to do more than just “be aware” of this change? Will it “change” (or be transformed) so as to more meaningfully (effectively) engage our post-Christendom/post-modern context?

    That is my question (and, hopefully, my journey).

    Posted by likeasplinterinyourmind | September 7, 2007, 8:06 am
  6. Correction: I meant to type “19th Century”, not 20th.

    Posted by Jim Pierce | September 3, 2007, 1:10 pm
  7. What do you mean by “post-Christendom/post-modern context”? Are you aware that the post-modern movement started as a philosophical movement in the 20th century with Karl Marx and Freidrich Nietzsche? These men took the writings of Kant and sought to collapse reality (reduce) into “conceptual metaphors”; that truth is nothing more than a chain of conceptual metaphors that have been “hardened” into “accepted truths” by cultures. In other words, Christianity is the product of a long chain of metaphors that have been “hardened” into truth by the followers of Jesus. At the same time, Islam is the product of a long chain of metaphors “hardened” into truth by the followers of Mohhamed. The post-modernist will say that those “truths” are relative to the community of believers in them; that BOTH are truths! Is that what you really want to say about Christianity? Please do clarify. Thank you.

    Posted by Jim Pierce | September 3, 2007, 1:03 pm

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