More on 'missional'by Various authors
I agree with almost everything Ron Adams wrote in "Bearing Witness to the Missional God" (June). But I disagree with his main point—that we jettison the word "missional." Throwing away "missional" is not even an option, for two important reasons. First, it takes us out of the missional conversation circle happening now among mainline Protestants, evangelicals and Catholics throughout North America and Europe. These conversations must include Anabaptists. We have something important to offer and to gain. We did not invent the word and we cannot uninvent it.
Second, just because the word requires definition every time we talk about it does not mean the word is the problem. The same is true of "church" and "kingdom of God." Clarifying definition means we take words seriously.
Adams argues that missional language assumes the church is an equal partner with God and that we err in thinking God’s whole project crumbles without the church. That is only problematic if, by church he is referring to the institutional church, the one that is anxiety-ridden about its declining numbers and diminishing cultural influence. If instead we use “church” to refer to the worldwide people of God loyal to the kingdom Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated, then we must say yes. Our missionary God does depend on the church to collaborate with God's saving purposes in the world.
Amen to Adams and all Mennonite Church USA pastors who proclaim that God’s agenda has primacy over the agenda of the church as institution. May we fall on our knees before our missional God in humble worship and obedience. May we be energized by this partnership between a missional God and a missional church. And may we recognize our need to clarify and define as we talk together, remaining in this larger conversation that is transforming the way Christian communities inhabit the world today.—Phil Kniss, Harrisonburg, Va.
Re "Bearing Witness to Our Missional God" (June): the word missional is of
fairly recent origin in our church writings, but the concept has long been in practice. Perhaps it is time for new terminology. Whatever word or phrase you choose, the following article, "A Day Care in Bolivia" by Isaac Shue, well exemplifies the concept.—Ruth L. Burkholder, Harrisonburg, Va.
Many thanks to C. Norman Kraus, Ruth Anne Abraham and Jim S. Amstutz for their responses to my article calling for replacement of the word "missional" with "bearing witness." I also heard from several others via email. I am glad to know that good folks still read The Mennonite and do so carefully and with a theological eye.
I'm less concerned about use of missional than I am about the anxiety besetting our denomination. This anxiety is fed by endless discussions about our role in salvation history without equal time spent discussing the wonder that God is reconciling the whole world to God’s self through Christ. I’m concerned we have read the road signs and imagined the end of the Mennonite church, forgetting that the church belongs to Christ and not to us. Do we trust Christ to see us through?
No matter what happens to the word missional, I hope we never get so caught up in our need to do and be something useful that we forget that at the end of history stands the promise of redemption. And God will make it so. —Ron Adams, Madison, Wis.
Associated Issue: Gene Herr: Holy restlessness - June 2012
Associated Article: Bearing witness to our missional God
- A life of opportunities
- Questions for women leaders
- A ministry of open arms
- Our mission is the world
- Blessed are those who question
- The shared, blackened pot
- An upside to downsizing
News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer
- Congregational unity or the decision to vote?
- Executive Board looks at fund-raising needs
- Ervin Stutzman visits Mennonites in Indonesia
- Savoring the present
- How should we remember 9/11?
- El Centro discovers kindred spirit
- Serving veterans in VA hospitals
- Dark Knight in Aurora
- More than 1,500 visit Global Fair
- 12 Scriptures Project engages churches
- Congolese Mennonites celebrate 100 years
- Lanctot encourages Congolese women leaders
- Geiser remembered at Kidron Church
- Dumpsters and peace vigils new way of life
- ¡Bienvenidos al Meno Acontecer de Septiembre, 2012!
- Consideración importante
- Evento de golf pro-fondos para HPLE
- IMBP Goshen, nuevo pastor
- Asamblea Bienal de IMH
- Convención Nacional Menonita en México
- Reflexión pastoral - Sept. 2012
- Del Dr. Nuñez AFECCIONES DIGESTIVAS
- ¡Bienvenidos al Meno Acontecer de Octubre, 2012!
- Educación: la mejor inversión
- IBA retiro anual de estudiantes
- IBA al sur de Texas
- Mayordomía en congregaciones pequeñas
- Reflexión pastoral: La madurez cristiana. Hoja de ruta.
- Del Dr. Nuñez: Capitulo I
- Signposts: A hospitable community
- Before Pieter Jansz there was Tunggul Wulung
- Are art and violence connected?
- 3 misperceptions about the generation gap
- Expand the conversation on human sexuality
- Can someone 'look illegal'?
- Hazard pay
- What to do when the powers drag their feet?
- Being the church in contentious times