Saturday, June 21, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: Breaking the Code Without Breaking the Faith (ch. 13)

I had a friend ask me about “emerging/emergent church” the other day. They had heard it did some good things at reaching out, but it was moving away from key theological doctrines. I told him it isn’t that simple. It is a vast movement and Stetzer notes that, while some key leaders have drifted theologically, the majority of young missional leaders have not given up key theological doctrines.

I’m starting at the end of the chapter, but Stetzers there are three streams from the emergent/emerging church. Some are relevants – those trying to explain the message in a relevant way. These guys are fully legit. There are the reconstructionists – those trying different forms like house churches and incarnational models. These can be good so long as they keep the Bible central, etc… Finally, there are revisionists – those who question key issues of theology along the line of some of the mainline denominations that have gone before. This isn’t good.

Before these streams, Stetzer talked about the challenge of faithful contextualization. This is the challenge of missions. Good contextualization, in my mind, should at times come close to syncretism. It shouldn’t go there, but we need to figure out how to speak the timeless message into our contemporary culture.

Good missional leaders need to ask key theological questions about the nature of the church and how it engages culture – like Paul did at Mars Hill in Acts 17. Paul was a missionary theologian. He wasn’t in an ivory tower. A key quote: “To be theologically faithful and culturally relevant we must be willing to engage in answering hard questions because the mandate of Scripture and the lostness of culture require nothing less” (p. 183). We have to avoid going too far (syncretism), but we also need to make sure we go far enough for fear of irrelevance. One more quote: “The missional church does not reject scriptural commands, only cultural barriers” (p. 184).

The Breaking the Code Challenge
1. Describe the traditions in your context that may hinder your church from breaking the code.
2. Describe areas in your church and mission where you may be compromising truth.
3. What does it mean to be a biblically faithful and a contextually relevant church?
4. How can you help lead others to understanding what it means to connect with culture without compromising the truth?

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