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Hi, Dr. Dunbar,
I’m a PC(USA) pastor in Philadelphia whose parents were independent faith missionaries planting churches in Japan. I served two terms with SEND International as a church planter before going to seminary and being ordained here. We knew nothing except the missional church before we knew the term.
With you, I long to live in the reality of the kingdom of God, and acknowledge that it’s only happening in seemingly small and hidden ways. I am glad to read your thoughts on this.
I also have a question. Is the goal of the missional church different from that of, say, the work of Frank Viola?
This post was a genuine moment for re-focusing. I appreciated your direct, clear observations while being sensitive to the more nuanced subtleties of implementing this culture challenging phenomenon known as ‘missional ministry’. As you know, I am wrestling with some of the same fears your authors probably allude to in their works. I will be getting and reading them as soon as I return from Africa. I am still in that place of transition and pray that the details you’ve spoken to here will keep me aware of the distractions that can easily return me to ‘business as usual’. thank you for your leading conversations.
Dave, I love your challenge statement at the end “to move the theoretical discussion to incarnational reality.” If we could all center on Jesus and the reality of Him living in us, transforming us, and leading us to LIFE in His mission; the minor “beefs”, well, might really become “Where’s the beef?” They might just disappear…
Appreciating your clear thinking and leadership!!
Hello Dr. Dunbar. I am a 2002 alumni of Biblical and started pastoring a Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma. I just finished reading a collection of essays in a book on Southern Baptist Identity. In one of those essays, Ed Stetzer defined what it meant to be “missional” in a Southern Baptist context. He pointed out that being missional involves engagement with the culture, incarnational ministry and transforming the areas where we live. In reading your recent piece on being missional, I was stimulated to thing about how I as a Pastor can move from talking about it to doing it. My one thought was that being missional is as much about Christology as it is ecclesiology. In the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, Christ begins by asserting His Sovereignty. The power source for the commission stems from He being God in human flesh. It would seem then that being “missional” means that one cannot be truly big on missions without also having a Big-view of Christ. It would seem then that all Christological reflection must lead to some type of missional thrust. Unless our Christology is connected somehow to our ecclesiology, the missional thrust will never connect. In that text I see the success of the Church dependent upon the word of Christ and the work of Christ through the word, as it so relates to Him being fully God and fully man.
In Halter and Smay’s book, “AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church”, which I just recently read, I was reminded that its OK to be attractional. Who wants to be know as “The Repulsive Church”?! But the missional call of the Church takes a back seat too often when parishioners rely on the attractional aspects of their local church to bring people in rather than responding to the call to go out. It takes constant reinforcement from the pulpit, modeling from the leadership, and practical opportunities outside the walls of the church to get the missional message across to the people sitting in the pew.
Before reading your article I was reading The Reformer’s Pledge in which Bill Johnson wrote: “All structure is to give passion a place, while strategy is to give passion a focus.” After reading your article I was struck by the connection. The bottom line is that we as the bride have to seek intimacy with the Bridegroom. Learning to live from His presence and not just act out principles is the starting point. After all, it is His mission and He will provide the structures and strategies as we listen. Thanks for your call to practice…or actually making a difference in the lives of people.
I just want to drop you a note to tell you how much I appreciate your missional journal. It is like drinking water from a cold stream on a hot day. Thanks for the insight.
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