Kudos to any of you out there who haven’t given up on following this blog. Let’s put it this way – if the blogging community had its own version of Child Protective Services, I’d be the guy all over the news for gross neglect! Sorry for not making the space for writing more regularly. I wish I could promise some more regular commitment, but pushing into a new phase of doctoral studies, involvement in aspects of local mission, paying attention to a few interesting side projects, and ramping up to the inaugural national gathering for the Missio Alliance initiative are going to be getting the bulk of my attention for the next little while.
Hey, speaking of the Missio Alliance initiative…
Have you heard about this? Do you feel like you’ve got a handle on it? Do you even care? Well, I’m going to try and spell some things out and convince you that you should care; in fact, not just care, but get involved! So here’s a few things…
Origins & Overview
Missio Alliance has its most direct origins in the Ecclesia Network – a network of church-planting leaders that has been around for the last 6-7 years. This network has been an enormous help to me and many others who have felt a need for their church community to be part of something larger – a family that would be a source of inspiration, encouragement, and sharpening. Ecclesia has, and continues to be, a great place for those who are thinking about and seeking to embody issues of church planting from a missional perspective (think Newbigin, Bosch, Guder) and taking the realities of Post-Christendom seriously. In fact, as someone whose doctoral research is focused on Ecclesia, I think some amazing days are in store for this group of men and women!
The people of the Ecclesia network are incredibly theologically minded; not heady, just intentionally reflective. And, while the training, gatherings, coaching, assessment, and other aspects of Ecclesia’s work have been helpful for many of our churches and leaders with reference to issues of church planting, there has been a growing sense and call for a broader kind of “space” where we could come together to dialogue and workout larger theological and cultural issues for the sake of mission. And then, as we began talking and listening to people outside of the network, we realized we weren’t alone; there was a pretty broad and even passionate call for such an initiative amongst disperate communities, networks, and tribes.
Here’s a brief video of Dave Fitch talking about “Why Missio Alliance?” And if you want to know even more, check out this About Page as it talks about some of our core convictions, distinguishing features, outlines the doctrinal and cultural issues that are framing our work, and explains our current leadership structure.
The Future of the Gospel (#futuregospel)
Anyone who has been tracking with the broader evangelical conversation or the last number of years knows that the issue of “the gospel,” has come front and center. Books have been written, conferences have been held, debates have been waged, and entire coalitions have even been formed with reference to this one, albeit central, issue.
So, as we thought and prayed about how to catalyze an initiative that is predicated, not so much on staking out a particular doctrinal territory, but on cultivating theological reflection and discussion for the sake of mission that would be deep as well as multi-voiced, we decided this would be a good place to start.
Some have justifiably asked, “Seriously, another conference?” My response is something along these lines…
Well, we are using this as a place to start, and we think it will be different from a lot of options out there as well as helpful for beginning to shape an identity, but just doing conferences is not what we are after. This is a way for us to begin an initiative that we believe will take on different expressions, but we have no desire to develop a vision and plan for that in isolation. Hosting a conference/gathering like this is meant to engender conversations and relationships that will contribute to what the future of this initiative will look like.
So there’s a little bit on what this Missio Alliance thing is all about and some of the thinking that lies behind our inaugural national gathering in Alexandria, April 11-13. I’d love your thoughts and questions!
The title for our conference in April is: “The Future of the Gospel: Renewing Evangelical Imagination for Mission.”
This title did not come about easily or quickly (or without debate!). It did, however, come about as the result of a collaborative effort amongst a diverse and invested group of Christian leaders. In the coming week or two I plan to offer individual posts that provide my personal take on the relevance of each of the key words from the title: FUTURE, GOSPEL, RENEWING, EVANGELICAL, IMAGINATION, MISSION. So, if you’re not convinced yet, hang in there and we’ll see what we can do If you are, what are you waiting for?! Head over here to register yourself or a group and join us in April to contribute to what I think are going to be important and catalytic conversations, to make new friends, and to be further equipped and encouraged for whatever kind of ministry God has entrusted to you or is preparing you for.