Showing posts from December, 2009

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #6: Local, Worshiping Communities

Okay, here is my conversation (with myself) about the sixth and final component of a Western missiology -- according to Bosch. Let's not forget that Bosch is advocating a missional way of thinking that no longer views mission work as something we do in faraway places. Rather, he suggests (along with many current theologians and church leaders) that we need to view our own Western world as a mission field. These 6 characteristics describe the kind of church that has a chance of connecting with our contemporary Western world. And how would a church reach a mission field without connecting to it? These 6 traits are the foundation -- not the magic bullet -- for becoming missional here in North America. So how do Churches of Christ stack up against Bosch's vision? We'll tally the score after today's discussion. Here is the 6th component: 6. Local, worshipping communities. Bosch beautifully makes a case for a renewed focus on independent congregations as the source of miss

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #5: Laity Driven

Hope you had a Merry Christmas. I'm looking forward to 2010. Should be an interesting year for many reasons. Here is a summary of Bosch's 5th key component of a Western missiology: 5. Laity-driven. Bosch believes that the restoration of a priesthood of all believers is absolutely essential if we hope to re-evangelize the West. He makes two points in this regard. First, witness will be more credible when it comes from those who do not belong to the "guild of pastors." Second, a mobilization of the membership is the only way to destroy the false dichotomy present in the lives of too many believers -- namely, the divide between public and private, between religious and secular. Too many Christians think that only pastors have to be held to a higher standard. Wow! If you are familiar with our heritage in Churches of Christ, you know that we have always emphasized a priesthood of all believers. While there have always been those who worked as preachers or evangelists,

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #4: Contextualization

Here's a summary of what David Bosch wrote about the 4th component of a Western missiology: 4. Contextualization. We know that the gospel must be contextually relevant in the 3rd world. But contextualization for the Western world? Aren't most Western societies already based on Christian principles? Bosch states (and I agree) that too many people "still believe that the gospel has already been indigenized and contextualized in the West." Yet the West has mostly turned its back on the way of Jesus. Was Christianity never deeply embedded into our culture? Or did the gospel contextualize so much that it lost its distinctive character? Bosch doesn't know what Western contextualization will look like, and no one else honestly seems to know yet either. But we need to begin to re-contextualize in earnest. When I left graduate school for the European mission field in 1994, I was prepared to contextualize not only my message but also my view of church. In other words, I

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #3: Ecumenism

Continuing my analysis of Churches of Christ, I am looking at our compatibility with David Bosch's 6 components of a Western missiology. Like most North American denominations, Churches of Christ are experiencing decline and fragmentation. We seem to be losing our own members while not appealing to new prospects. This is a problem shared by most churches across the board. In the face of decline, we have two major temptations. The first is to withdraw into private spheres of spirituality where we "blow off" church and just focus on "being a good person" and on "being happy like God wants me to be." I can't say enough about how ungodly and self-centered this direction is. The second temptation is to try to reestablish Christianity as the way of life for our country. It is just as bad as the first because it will isolate us even further from the world that God wants us to reach. This temptation over-glorifies the past and projects a triumphalistic sp

A Christmas Gift Idea

Here is a Christmas story & gift idea forwarded to me by a family member who had the good sense not to post this on a blog. I have no such good sense. I can only hope that it's a fanciful tale. I present it in its unauthenticated form with only a couple minor edits. Happy shopping! Pocket Tazer Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife ... A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Tazer for their anniversary submitted this: Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest... The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse- sized tazer. The effects of the tazer were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety.....?? WAY TOO COOL! Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #2: Counterculturalism

On with an analysis of Churches of Christ (particularly the progressive "branch") through the lens of the late, great South African theologian David Bosch... His masterpiece work is Transforming Mission , a hefty tome that is not easy to wade through. A small volume called Believing in the Future: Toward a Missiology of Western Culture provides the fodder for these articles. In the concluding chapter of this 60-page book, Bosch lays out 6 components that (in his opinion) will mark a healthy missiological approach to Western culture. As I have said previously, the Western world (US, Canada & Europe) is in need of being re-missionized. We can't assume that churches as they currently exist will be effective in reaching Westerners who are increasingly rejecting the church as they know it. In light of this thought, these posts ask how Churches of Christ stack up against David Bosch's 6 suggested elements of a Western missiology? In other words, do we in Churches of

David Bosch & Churches of Christ #1: Ecology

I've not been the most faithful blogger lately. Lots of good things are happening, but this has left me less time for posting. Back to our subject... How do Churches of Christ stack up against David Bosch's 6 suggested elements of a Western missiology? In other words, do we in Churches of Christ already have any of these components in place? Or do we have to completely reinvent ourselves if we hope to survive beyond the next generation or two? There are multiple factions within Churches of Christ, as with any Christian denomination or fellowship. My experience is with the more moderate or progressive elements in our fellowship. We all have strongly sectarian roots, but most progressives have jettisoned big portions of this heritage. As a matter of fact, the most popular pastime among Church of Christ progressives is bashing their own heritage. The preachers who get the biggest laughs and have the widest followings are those who are not only good speakers but who also cleverly

David Bosch's components & Churches of Christ

Having spoken of David Bosch's 6 components in 2 previous posts (Nov 23 & 24), I thought it would be interesting to examine Churches of Christ through the lens of Bosch. I'll try to do that today and tomorrow and perhaps beyond. What were Bosch's 6 components? You can go back & read this or this , but let me summarize. David Bosch, the late South African theologian and missiological researcher & teacher, spent much of his career investigating and writing about the components of mission for our era. His hefty work Transforming Mission was a seminal tome in missions. Bosch was at the forefront in identifying our Western world as seriously in need of re-missionizing (not a word, I know). Mission work is not just something we do "far away" in remote places. Mission is about expanding the Kingdom reign of God. And the Western world needs PLENTY of that! Out of his massive research, he proposed 6 elements of a potentially effective mission to the Western