Previous posts in this series:
- So what is Missio Alliance and this Future of the Gospel Gathering? (Pt. 1)
- The FUTURE of the Gospel: Renewing Evangelical Imagination for Mission (Pt. 2)
- The Future of the GOSPEL: Renewing Evangelical Imagination for Mission (Pt. 3)
- The Future of the Gospel: RENEWING EVANGELICAL IMAGINATION for Mission (Pt. 4)
I’ve been spending time this week trying to provide some insight into the sort of convictions and hopes that are guiding the Missio Alliance initiative. One thing I haven’t offered is the brief tag line that I often use when people ask me what Missio Alliance is exactly. It’s nothing “official” at this point, but I often say…
Missio Alliance is an initiative for the theological formation of pastors and other Christian leaders for MISSION.
… and I am always sure to emphasize that last part – for MISSION.
I emphasize that last part because I want to make sure people get the fact that our ultimate priority is not hosting conversations and engendering friendships (though these are vital); nor is it contending for a given set of doctrinal affirmations (though operating from theological convictions is imperative). Rather, our ultimate priority is seeing the Body of Christ more fully and faithfully equipped to participate in God’s MISSION in the world.
As this is the case for the initiative on the whole, we wanted to be sure to include it in the theme of the gathering as well. It’s not a tack on phrase for us. Neither is it intended to be taken as an isolated or derivative function of the Church (as if MISSION is merely one individual aspect of what the Church does). Instead, a baseline premise for us (owing to the likes of David Bosch, Darrell Guder, Karl Barth, and others of this theological vein) is that the Church is missionary by her very nature.
Such a disposition requires, among other things, partnership and integration.
Across the board, virtually all denominations are in decline – numerically, but also in terms of solidarity. At the same time, seminaries and other centers of theological education are witnessing a decline in enrollment and struggling financially. In addition, the changing face of “global missions” holds vast implications for traditional mission organizations.
Missio Alliance is not looking to be a seminary, a denomination, or a mission organization. Nor would it be accurate to say that we just want to help get things back to where they once were. Instead, our desire is to come alongside denominations, seminaries, mission organizations (and still other Christian networks and groups) and cultivate partnerships that can advance the health and vitality of all given a very new cultural landscape.
We’re very excited by the groups that are exploring partnering with us as co-sponsors of our inaugural national gathering.
I have two things in mind when I say that a disposition toward seeing the Church more fully and faithfully equipped for MISSION requires integration. The first has to do with partnerships. The very idea of partnership, at least in its fullest (or perhaps Christian) sense, is predicated on integration. That is, a vision in which we see not merely two or more entities relating to one another structurally, but relationally; where there is real openness to authentic change and transformation based on a relational encounter with others. As hard as this is for individuals, it will be even harder for institutions and organizations. Nevertheless, it’s our hope and prayer that this will be part of the work we get to see God do.
Secondly, we desire to see more and better integration at the level of scholarship and practice. As with above, the aim isn’t just to help two independent fields inform one another, but actually to advance the development of the categories of “Missionary Theologians” or “Theological Practitioners” (some other resources on these issues here).
So there you have it folks. As best as I’m able as but one member of a team of people who are working together on launching this initiative, this is the insight I feel like I can provide on where we’re coming from, what we’re all hoping and praying God will do through this, and what we have in mind for this inaugural gathering. Hope I’ve convinced you that this would be a worthwhile for you and/or your group/tribe/network to be involved with. Feel free to drop questions in the comment section or via the contact pages here or or over at the Missio Alliance site.
Or, by all means, go ahead and get registered!