I’ve noticed that there’s an impulse to reject denominations among “missional/emerging types.” This is especially true regarding the older more conservative evangelical denominations. Often denominations like these can’t get out of their own way to allow “fresh expressions” of missionality to take shape within their churches and church planting structures. They are often blind to the ways Christendom has become entrenched in the ways they administer the churches. They have rules that aggravate. They have doctrinal formulas that were formed out of a different place and time. They focus on the differences, the denominational distinctives, that really don’t mean much anymore. All of this turns off even the most dedicated of young missionaries to the territories of post-Christendom.
And yet I think these denominations could play (must play!) a role in just the kind of renewal we seek. We see emergent presbyterians, anabaptist emergents (submergents) and indeed many many other emergents as Tony Jones has outlined. The conservative evangelical denominations however seem strangely left out. Yet I think denominations like the Salvation Army (check out Pernell Goodyear’s church) and other holiness denominations that have deep roots in ministering wholistically to the poor will be a significant place for the kind of renewal the missional movement is leading.
This is why I wrote THIS PIECE for Fuller Theological Seminary‘s Theology News and Notes. Its about my own unusual and good relationship with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, my home denomination, a conservative evangelical denomination if there ever was one. The whole issue is on the emerging/missional church within denominations. You can read my piece here. Check out the entire issue! Thanks to Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs. They did a great job!
How has your experience been within your denomination? Have they been supportive? Would you recommend your denominational heritage for those seeking to explore missional/emerging church?
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.