This is a very overdue post.
A Personal Vocational Transition
At the end of last December I resigned my position at Northern Seminary in order to begin helping direct the efforts of a new theological initiative. The transition was quite seamless as Northern has actually become an early and major sponsor of this new initiative, the Missio Alliance. In this new role I get to work alongside Chris Backert (serving as Ex. Dir. & Regional Dir. for Eastern US), JR Woodward (serving as Regional Dir. for Western US), and Dave Fitch (serving as Regional Dir. for Central US).
What is the Missio Alliance?
This initiative has grown out of the Ecclesia Network, a group I’ve been privileged to be a part of for the last 5 years or so. Whereas Ecclesia has become a home and source of support, training, and encouragement for missional churches and church planters, the Missio Alliance has more to do with bringing a broader array of practitioner-theologians, missiologists, pastors and other Christian leaders together for dialogue, training, and the creation of resources. Here’s a fuller description of the origins and aims of the Missio Alliance from the initial web page that we have up…
As the Church in North America wrestles with the complex realities of an increasingly Post-Christian cultural context, there’s a need to consider afresh what God is doing and calling us to in His Mission. In recent history we have witnessed increasing fragmentation within evangelical Protestantism and sharp denominational decline. Yet even amidst these challenges, we believe there is a unique opportunity to work toward the renewal of the Church for Mission in North America.
The Missio Alliance seeks to provide a seeding ground for such renewal. We aim to bring pastors, practitioner-theologians, leaders, and missiologists together from across the spectrum of the North American Church to work for a Kingdom-driven, gospel-centered, biblically grounded theology and ecclesial practice for God’s Mission in North America. We seek to provide a place for theological dialogue, training, and the creation of resources to navigate present and future missional challenges. Grounded in The Capetown Commitment of the Third Lausanne Congress, these endeavors will emerge out of a strong and distinctive theological identity that is rooted in relationships. We will seek to cross cultural and denominational boundaries, creating by the Spirit a gospel dynamic for discerning the challenges of our time.
Dave Fitch has talked about the need for something like the Missio Alliance to emerge. As he wrote in this post…
As I said previously, and as I have said in my new book The End of Evangelicalism?, evangelicalism is at a tipping point. We are cracking. The emergent conversation started by Brian McLaren et. al. has not produced theological leadership (it seems Love Wins is another case of this). The herds of disenchanted evangelicals are left to either wander or head for the newer coalitions of the Neo-Reformed. Yet as I’ve said here, this isn’t going to take us into Mission. Based in the impulses in both of these movements, we need an alternative place for the work of theology and mission. Without it – it is questionable whether these much needed conversations can place. Without an alternative coalition (that can bring certain parts of these existing factions together into conversation with the Holiness, Anabaptist Missionals), the aftermath of traditional evangelicalism is going to devolve into defensiveness and fail to produce a missional movement. There’s some of us working toward that end (of nurturing an alternative theological coalition). In the meantime, this for me, is the lesson of the Rob Bell fiasco.
Who’s Involved & How can I Connect?
At present, we are working toward a launch conference in April of 2013. Among those who have already agreed to be a part of that conference are Dallas Willard, Scot McKnight, Roger Olson, Cherith Fee Nordling, Amos Yong, and Jo Saxton among others.
If you’re out West, we are planning a regional conference on Oct. 19-20 near Los Angeles featuring Alan Hirsch, Dave Fitch, & JR Woodward w/ engagement and responses from 6 local pastors. Stay tuned for more info on that as the date gets closer.
We’ve already begun to establish working partnerships w/ a handful of denominations, seminaries, and leaders of various networks, but if you represent an institution or organization that might be interested in partnering with something like I’ve described above, please be in touch via: connect [@] missioalliance [dot] org.