Monday, June 23, 2008

What is Missional?

Fr. Joe at felix hominum has linked to some other bloggers who have proposed a Missional Synchroblog for today, June 23, 2004.

I have reflected on aspects of this topic previously, including my well received beer posting last week.

The great challenge for the Church today is to come to grips with the death of Christendom. The Church no longer holds the priviledged position it once did in society. It is no longer assumed that all - or even most - are formally affiliated with any formal religious structure. While church attendance was once the norm, it is now the exception.

In those days, the idea of mission for the average Christian in the developed world wasn't about much more than opening the doors. Build your church. Open the doors. People will come.

Maybe that worked then. I don't know. I'm too young to remember those days.

And I'm 48. Hardly a young man.

This relates to another dysfunctional tendency - one which may be a problem particular to North American Anglicans.

Are we here to preach the good news to all nations? Or are we a chaplaincy to the English ethnics and the odd English ex-pat?

Seems to me that both of these dysfunctions turn our vision inward on ourselves.

Were we to be faithful to Jesus, we would change our focus.

To be missional, it seems to me, is to turn our vision outward, to acknowledge the end of Christendom, to see that there are people far and near who do not know the Jesus we meet each Sunday in the breaking of bread.

It isn't about keeping the doors open. It isn't about more bums in seats of a Sunday. (Though both those things might be by-products.) And it certainly isn't about - or at least not limited to - "people like us."

It is about taking Jesus out of the big besteepled box we put him in.

It is about taking Jesus to the street.

It is about taking Jesus to the people, to all people, wherever they are.

It is about finding Jesus there in the face of the poor.

It is about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the sick and the prisoner.

This is post-Christendom - and that is a challenge to the Church.

But it is a blessing to the Church as well. We are liberated from the bondage of establishment and respectability.

Let us sieze this blessing!

Let us seek out Jesus!

Let us proclaim the Good News of Jesus!

Let us preach good news to the poor!

Let us proclaim freedom for the prisoners!

Let us declare recovery of sight for the blind!

Let us release the oppressed!

Let us proclaim the year of the Lord's favour!

But mostly, let's bloody get over ourselves. It ain't about us. It's about him.


Country Parson said...

I'm lifting this post and sending it to the clergy in our diocese. Thanks.

Tim Chesterton said...

Amen, brother! Preach it!

(at the risk of sounding Pentecostal!)

Country Parson said...

And for that matter, the French version of O Canada, which I understand to be the original, has that touch of Three Muskiteerishness to it. I guess it doesn't matter which country it is, it's not patriotic until the swords are out and the fight is dared.