Every Sunday morning, we’ll be posting articles and links that are saying something important about church, culture, and mission. Here’s what resonated with us this week on the web:
Church & Theology
Over at the V3 Movement, Welford Orrock explores the undeniable elements of a missional calling:
Recently I learned a helpful lesson from a friend who is a minister and community organizer. He shared that, in ministry and non-profit terms, there is a significant difference between a partner and a service provider. Partners know one another, love one another and share their mission together. Service providers furnish what the other doesn’t have or can’t do. In the former, the relationship is mutual and the field is level. In the latter, there is an inescapable power dynamic of giver and receiver which always inhibits meaningful relationships.
Moving missionally into new places and new relationships has to be in response to a call.
David Fitch shared the Foreword he wrote for the book Starting Missional Churches:
The good news is that, beneath the radar of most large church planting organizations and outside the purview of the “100 largest churches in America” lists, hundreds of new churches are springing up in N America that look very different from the church plants of the past. They begin small and relationally. They live life among their neighborhoods. They view the incarnation as the way God works so they go be present “with” people, not offer services “to” people. Inspired by an enlarged view of God’s Triune work in the world, they seek to discern God at work preveniently where they are living. They are there to join in God’s mission. And so a missional movement of churches is now sprouting up all over N America.
Scot McKnight expounds on the ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by looking at obedience vs. freedom:
In the middle of Ethics is a section on obedience and freedom that illustrates what it means to act responsibly in freedom in the world and not simply in obedience to some command (or principle) — which means to embody in a concrete situation the reconciliation of the world in Christ through faith and in Christ’s own vicarious representative act to enter in to the human condition to redeem it.
It begins in christology: “Jesus stands before God as the obedient one and as the free one. As the obedient one, he does the will of the Father by blindly following the law he has been commanded. As the free one, he affirms God’s will out of is very own insight, with open eyes and a joyful heart; it is as if he re-creates it anew out of himself.
News & Views
Brian Zahnd writes for The Antioch Session about Charisma Magazine’s unfortunate decision to post an Islamaphobic article:
Friday afternoon I read an opinion piece entitled “Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic” by Gary Cass posted on the CharismaNews website. After considerable backlash, the post was thankfully removed tonight (just minutes ago, in fact). It is, however, still posted on Cass’s organization’s site.
It is such an horrendous piece of hate-speech and fear-mongering that at first I assumed it was a satirical piece designed to lampoon Islamaphobia. Sadly, it was not. (I had to read it twice to make sure it was really saying what it obviously says.)
Sarah Bessey responds to several recent blips on the charismatic media radar with a strong and heartfelt letter:
We’ve taught the message that “everyone is out to get us” and “be afraid” for so long that perhaps it is no wonder that we have become fear-filled, defensive, close-minded anti-Christs. I grieve for our witness. Is this the activity and experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Surely not.
We are living out of our worst fears instead of our best hopes. We are teaching and preaching, we are writing, we are leading, we are praying out of crippling fear instead of the hope of Christ.
This saddens me because it is so far from our historical roots as charismatic/pentecostals. And it is also so antithetical to the Holy Spirit.
Matt Smethurst writes at The Gospel Coalition about ISIS and the persecution Christians are facing:
But amid this persecution there is the light of gospel hope. In the latest edition of our Going Deeper with TGC podcast, Mark Mellinger speaks with Brother Victor, a Christian leader in the Middle East who has been in the center of the storm, working to help believers who have been forced to flee their homes and have lost all or most of their earthly possessions. “The trauma is indescribable,” Brother Victor says. Yet through their tears and pain, Middle Eastern believers are taking comfort that this hardship confirms the authenticity of their faith. They are seeing the Lord bring about scores of conversions. And they are prayerfully hoping they will be able to return to the houses and church buildings they’ve been forced to vacate.
The Church & Post-Christian Culture Event is THIS WEEK!
Our very first Once & Future Mission gathering will be happening on Friday and Saturday of this week, and we couldn’t be more excited. Church & Post-Christian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus promises to be a rich, life-giving time exploring the relevance of the Anabaptist tradition to mission in a post-Christian world. We’re looking forward to the many people from across various tribes, traditions, and other contexts who will be coming together to share and learn from one another. We’re especially excited about the diverse slate of leaders who will be coming to speak to us on a host of important topics. It is the voice and perspective of those who are “lesser-known” and are perhaps even marginalized within mainstream media channels that we are most pleased to be setting forth.
Stay tuned for updates on our social media channels throughout the event by watching the #OnceFutureMission hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
And we will keep you posted about the availability of audio sessions in the days following the gathering!
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.