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.
If you have suggestions or would otherwise like to contribute to the aims of the Once and Future Mission Series, please be in touch!