The gospel of the kingdom

John Zxerce reviews Hugh Halter's Tangible Kingdom and raises concerns that if correct, will derail the emerging-missional movement.

The part of the book that most concerned me was their understanding of the gospel. The authors claim the gospel isn't the answer of Jesus to the sin-problem of men and women. Rather, it's "[God's] love and acceptance and vision for every human being... God's love for his created humanity."

That description of the gospel too easily marginalizes the passion, crucifixion, and substitutionary death of Jesus. In fact, if the gospel is merely about God's love and acceptance of every human being, then why would Jesus have to die? They go on to claim that the gospel isn't just about God's love, it's about love in general - people adopting children, having block parties, and planting trees... "it's all Kingdom, and it's all good news."

While Christians are called to love others, that's not the gospel - that's an outworking of the gospel. The good news in the New Testament isn't a message about us, it's a message about Jesus. The authors go on to claim, we should look for ways to "Witness to this gospel by bringing tangible slices of heaven down to life on Earth, and continue to do this until those we're reaching out to acknowledge that our ways are `good news'."

The gospel is not a message about me. It's a message about Jesus, who is more than sufficient for a person has the same problem a non-Christian does. It's called sin, and Jesus provides an incredible answer to it - His life. His good news is about Him, not about me trying to be Him.

;The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)" (Hugh Halter, Matt Smay)

Missional Fad vs Missional Movement

iStock_000006711564XSmall.jpg Ed Stetzer wonders why so many "missional" churches are uninterested in doing global missions. Others have wondered why the emerging/missional church doesn't do evangelism.

Dan Kimball agrees that something is wrong: "For the past few years, I have been observing, listening, and asking questions about the missional movement. I have a suspicion that the missional model has not yet proven itself beyond the level of theory."

Andrew Jones looks back on 2009 and observes,

I can think of 5 or 6 countries where some of the top "emerging church" leaders have been brought on staff to more traditional churches or denominations or mission agencies where it is hoped they will bring new perspective to the traditional streams of Christianity. There are now Bible colleges that offer a degree in the emerging church.

Not a good sign for the emerging/missional church if it has any intention of being truly missional/missionary.

Four years ago, Gibbs and Bolger's study of the emerging church left me deeply disturbed for its future.

Their two year study revealed: a loss of confidence in the gospel; a blurring of the distinction between the church and world; a redefining of mission away from evangelism towards social and political agendas.

In contrast, this is what I would expect to see in the few emerging/missional groups that will become genuinely missional movements.

1. Missionaries without borders

Has anyone read the Matt 28:18-20 lately? You're not a movement if you're only interested in reaching your tribe.

2. Making disciples

Missionary movements teach the newest believers to follow Jesus in obedience. It begins with simple commands of Jesus like: repent and believe, be baptized, love one another, be generous, make disciples, celebrate the Lord's supper. True discipleship always leads to church formation.

3. Paying their own way

Where's the money coming from? Some denominations have millions of dollars to splash around for "missional initiatives" that are not sustainable. Missionary movements take responsibility to generate their own funds rather than remaining dependent on mom and dad.

4. Gospel faithfulness

Movements are not known for the vagueness when it comes to their message and mission. Putting a "missional" label on it may just be a smokescreen for the reality that we not sure anymore about what we really believe. Movements return to the heart of the gospel and at the same time find relevant and effective ways to make the gospel known in new contexts.

5. Vision validated by action

Movements turn dissatisfaction into vision, and vision into action. There was a time for critique and vision casting. That time is over. The emerging/missional groups that have a future are already implementing a positive agenda for making disciples.

6. Children and grandchildren. Everywhere

This is everything. This is the end of the bigger vs smaller debate. You can be five or five thousand. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you have descendants. Produce some great great grandchildren, and we might even call you a movement.

7. Out on the fringe

The breakthroughs always occur on the fringe. I'm not expecting to find leaders of dynamic movements in denominational bureaucracies, or theological seminaries, or on Christian television.

Look for the leaders who follow the example of Jesus and Paul, and all the great movement leaders through the ages. They are close to the action. They hang out with people: preaching, teaching, healing, confronting, mobilizing, and pioneering.

Look for leaders like that in the emerging/missional church of today, and you'll find founders of movements that will change the world.

When "missional" churches aren't

Ed_Stetzer.jpg Ed Stetzer wonders why some missional churches don't do global missions.

It appears to me that many missional churches are missing the Great Commission in the name of being missional. That makes zero sense.

I was recently told by a pastor who called himself "missional" that his church needed to pull back on their global mission support to help their people "be missionaries right here."

All this provokes me to ask, "Why are so many missional Christians uninvolved in God's global mission?" As the missional conversation continues and deepens, what has occurred that has led to our blindness to the lost world around us?

Five reasons why Ed thinks this has happened:

1. In rediscovering God's mission, many have only discovered its personal dimensions.

2. In responding to God's mission, many have wanted to be more mission-shaped and have therefore made everything "mission."

3. In relating God's mission, the message increasingly includes the hurting but less frequently includes the global lost.

4. In refocusing on God's mission, many are focusing on being good news rather than telling good news.

5. In reiterating God's mission, many lose the context of the church's global mission and needed global presence.

The full text and Ed's solutions for the unmissional missional church

Emerging church—DOA?

Url Scaramanga announces the early demise of the “emerging church” in RIP Emerging Church: An overused and corrupted term now sleeps with the fishes. ... HT: Alan Hirsch UPDATE: Ed Stetzer's article on The Emerging Church, the Emergent Church, and the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints.

10 questions for Alan Hirsch

Alan Hirsch-2
1. Question: Why did you write Forgotten Ways?

Answer: To cultivate an apostlic imagination and practice for the 21st century church.

I was fascinated with the question of what makes an apostolic movement tick? How did they do it? I ended up exposed to the phenomenon of the apostolic church in it's elemental forms—no resources and yet amazing growth and impact against the odds.

2. Question: What are you reading?

Answer: The Wisdom of Crowds by Surowiecki, an interesting book on how mass groups of people can be very smart.

Refounding the church by Arbuckle.

Lastly, Subversive Orthodoxy by Inchausti.

3. Question: What are you writing?

Answer: I'm writing with Michael Frost on a missional take on Christology. We're examining the place of Jesus in shaping the people of God as radical missionary movement.

4. Question: What are you learning?

Answer: I'm learning about multliplication movements and cause-driven people movements. In the West it takes a lot of resources to get a church planting movement off the ground. Our idea of the Church is too institutional. A dynamic movement has to multiply from the beginning. We need to simplify the ecclesiolgy so it's less onerous and more reproducible.

The Starfish and Spider has been a great resource for this.

5. Question: What are you excited about?

Answer: I'm too tired to be excited!

Seriously, I am excited about relocating to the US in June this year. I have a sense of destiny about the move.

I hope two things will come out of it. Firstly, I'd like to help develop training systems for missional leadership. Missio is an important partner with me in this.

There's a hunger in the US for a fresh take on the church and mission. The US is still key to impacting the Christian movement globally.

I'm also working on a Doctorate in the area of monotheism, Chistology and missiology. Monotheisim: one God over against the claim of many gods, shaped by Christology and informing missiology.

6. Question: What's the future of the emerging church?

Answer: I place myself within the Emerging church. But I am concerned that its movement ethos can be anxious and doubtful.

It must guard its ethos and focus on its transformative vision for the world. The Emerging church must not lose its sense of the centrality of the Gospel. It must remain confident in the message of the gospel. It must commit itself to a subversive orthodoxy— orthodoxy in the historic sense.

7. Question: What's the difference between “Emerging church” and “Missional church”?

Answer: I'm moving away from Emerging church as a term. I think it's been hijacked by side debates. Emerging is about contextualizing church and the Gospel in a postmodern world.

Context is a subset of missions. Missional church sees ourselves as a missional agency of God in the world. All churches have to be missional. Not all churches need to be “emerging”. Established church can be missional. Emerging churches can be non-misisonal and internally focused.

8. Question: What projects are you working on?

Answer: We've done a lot of work on creating online learning systems around the release of Forgotten Ways. We're just about to release some exciting new tools on the forgottenways website: the APEST Test, Missional Fitness, and Training Options.

I'm also doing some fun stuff with missio, Christian Associates, Dawn Europe, and glocalnet.

9. Question: If you were in your 20s, starting all over again, what would you do?

Answer: Start with applying organic multiplication ideas. Discipleship as a fundamental. I'm in full agreement in Neil Cole in his focus on discipleship and multiplication. If I was starting again I'd want to start a movement on that basis.

10. Question: At the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for?

Answer: The church in the West is waking up. It's coming out of it's long slumber. It's beginning to see itself in a more “dangerous” potentially missional form. I think the “tipping point” for the idea of missional church happend two to three years ago.

I want to help birth and nuture the missional church wherever I find it. I have a great heart for the West. I want to be a midwife to what God is doing in birthing apostolic movements that will reach the West. That's why I wrote Forgotten Ways.

“The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church” (Alan Hirsch)