After a hiatus of three months, first due to work on a manuscript on disciple-making, but more so because of an unexpected accident that took me off the scene, … I am returning to my twice a week blogs, to share with my subscribers and readers some of my thoughts about the mission of God, or of the mission that God has given to the church. I define myself as a missional-ecclesiologist. Precisely what it is that Jesus is creating his church to be and to do. Certainly not to be a pleasant gathering of religiously inclined who gather to passively enjoy the liturgy week by week.

So, I was fascinated yesterday (as the presidential campagn heats us) to listen to the announcement by Mayor Pete Buttigeig that he is entering the 2020 race. He is remarkably well-informed and articulate, but there were a couple of points that translate easily into understanding the mission of God. First of all, everyone who knows him comments on how carefully he listens to whomever he is talking. He tunes-in to people very thoughtfully. Having just finished my thoughts on disciple-making I am keenly aware of essential that we listen to the persons to whom we are talking, taking time to clearly understand some of the pieces of their lives and engagements that are part of their formation as disciples. There is no one-size-fits-all model for disciples. All being to the calling all the factors that make them who they are, and are the influences in which they seek to obey Christ’s calling.

For Mayor Pete, this is one of the factors that has made him so popular as mayor, and has been taken note of by so many others. As we are called to be engaged as those who are called to be the missionary arm of the Holy Trinity, to be listeners is an essential. Jesus asked his first inquirers: “What are you seeking?”

The second thing that caught my attention (as a missiologist ) was his vision for the nation’s future with all of the cultural, generational, ethnic, and other inescapable challenges. His insistence that we can’t go back, we must create a whole new generational culture that looks at the realities and problems that have no easy answer. It does not suffice to want to make the nation great again. We can never go back.

So, with the church. Patterns that have been present for centuries of church institutions formed in the Christendom era do not accomplish the mission of God in a post-Christian culture of self-satisfied humanism. (Which is why I wrote Homebrew Churches: Reconceiving the Church for Tomrrow’s Children). There is an unquestionable need for those communities of faith in which God’s people “teach and admonish one another” but it will take many forms to meet hugely diverse needs in various contexts. Like tomorrow’s politics, tomorrow’s church will require a new generation of creative leaders.

I’ll be coming back to this, now, in these blogs. I’m thankful for being able to hear from you and to share with you. Peace.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Sarah Estes says:

    Welcome back!

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