In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul speaks of unity and diversity in the Body of Christ. In terms of diversity, he highlights a plurality of gifts, callings, and abilities given by God to the Church. In terms of unity, he urges us to consider a common relationship to our triune God: “the same spirit…” “the same Lord…” and “the same God…” Paul may be primarily referring to unity and diversity in local communities of believers, but these same dynamics are central to the integrity of the Church as a whole. Far from arguing for uniformity or dispassionate tolerance, Paul would have us know that Christ-centered unity and diversity are essential to the DNA of the new humanity made possible in and through Jesus!
Given the increasing amounts of fear, polarization, and reactionary rhetoric that seem to be manifesting themselves in different quarters of the North American Church, this text offers a timely reminder and invitation. A reminder and invitation that is perhaps doubly significant in that much of this “cracking” stems from finding ourselves in a profound time of social dislocation.
The fact of the matter is, the future of mission in North America is uncharted territory. Never before have we found ourselves in a situation where the task before the Church is to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ among entire cultural groups who believe they have heard the good news and have moved beyond it. In fact, the last time any of God’s people faced a similar situation was when the Celtic movement re-evangelized the British Isles in the 700’s after its initial evangelization in the 3rd century.
We believe that the Spirit is forging a new horizon for the Church; one that is built on the gifts of the traditions of our past, but fused together for a new reality in the future. We know the theological and missiological gifts that have carried us as we enter this new territory, but we do not know for certain how these gifts will come together – or what new gifts might yet be given – as we journey forward together.
It is in this spirit that Missio Alliance is excited to convene the “Once & Future Mission Series.”
The Once & Future Mission Series is dedicated to recognizing the gifts of our various traditions up to today and re-imagining those gifts for the future of mission. We seek to do this by bringing these gifts into conversation with other parts of the Body of Christ so that a “fusion of horizons” can begin to take shape – one that we believe will be necessary for the future of mission in North America.
This “Series” will run for approximately the next two years. We anticipate that it will consist of hosting gatherings for conversation and learning, various calls for blog articles, and interviews, among other forums and content streams.
Stay tuned to our Gatherings Page and via our social media streams (Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter) for announcements related to this Series.
If you have suggestions or would otherwise like to contribute to the aims of the Once and Future Mission Series, please be in touch!
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.