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Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (The Gospel and Our Culture Series) [Paperback]

By Darrell L. Guder (Editor) & Lois Barrett (Editor)
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Item Number 67458  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   280
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 5.94" Height: 0.72"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1999
ISBN  0802843506  
EAN  9780802843500  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this post-Christian era, the focus of the North American church centers on the maintenance of the institution rather than on God's mission. In this timely volume, six missiologists examine the church's loss of dominance in today's culture. Presenting a biblically based theology, they challenge the church to recover its missional vocation---here in North America.

Publishers Description
What would a theology of the Church look like that took seriously the fact that North America is now itself a mission field? This question lies at the foundation of this volume written by an ecumenical team of six noted missiologists--Lois Barrett, Inagrace T. Dietterich, Darrell L. Guder, George R. Hunsberger, Alan J. Roxburgh, and Craig Van Gelder.
The result of a three-year research project undertaken by The Gospel and Our Culture Network, this book issues a firm challenge for the church to recover its missional call right here in North America, while also offering the tools to help it do so.
The authors examine North America?'s secular culture and the church?'s loss of dominance in today?'s society. They then present a biblically based theology that takes seriously the church?'s missional vocation and draw out the consequences of this theology for the structure and institutions of the church.

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More About Darrell L. Guder & Lois Barrett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Darrell L. Guder is Henry Winters Luce Chair of Missional and Ecumenical Theology and Dean-elect at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A sign of hope  Mar 2, 2007
Missional Church is a humble, yet firm, call by the authors for the church rethink itself. Perhaps rethinking is not exactly the best term to use. Once senses in the pages that the book more or less assumes that the church has always been what the authors suggest it should be, but the people of the church have forgotten who they are. So it is more that the church needs to remember itself than rethink itself. In fact, a good bit of the problem is that all the church has been doing is rethinking itself to the point where it has lost its identity and been washed up in whatever cultural setting it is found. The authors focus directly on the church in North America, identifying the cultural milieu we find ourselves in and offering a helpful examination of how the North American church can reorient itself in such away that it not only doesn't fade away into irrelevance but becomes again what it was always meant to be.
One should not read this book with the expectation that it will confirm ones understanding of the nature of the church. Even if one is conversant in the language of culture and willing to hear that the North American church doesn't actually have it all figured out, something new can still be learned. A new language is developed as one enters into the thought of the missional church group, a language based on sending. Whereas for centuries the churches of the West thought they were the ones sending people, for example and American congregation sending a missionary to China, missional church thought would say that sending is the action of God because God is by very nature a missionary God. Now, it is also necessary for North American churches to understand that they are not only to send people "out there" into other parts of the world but that the church is sent into whatever context it finds itself. It is for this reason that the church must become conversant in the language of culture, because culture is the context into which it is sent.
The authors take the reader through the relevant history which has brought the culture to where it is. They overview the history of the Enlightenment and show how the autonomous self arose, fracturing society metaphysically and ideologically into a big melting pot of individuals. The individual has been bombarded by numerous metaphors to shape her identity, notably the roles of consumer and product of technique. These identity roles have created an "unresolved tension" for the modern self (31). This history has also shaped the church in North America, from the way the church views itself in relation to the government, to the way members view themselves as consumers of a religious product. The system of denominationalism was developed greatly in North American after peoples from Europe immigrated bringing along their various religious views and ideas shaped by current philosophical and governmental ideals. The product has been "a functional Christendom and forms of church life shaped by modern notions of voluntary association and rational organization" (77).
With the current state of the church in mind and a desire to meet the challenge of reshaping the church's way of being the authors move forward and spend the bulk of the book sketching what the church ought to look like and how it can move in that direction. Again, the missional church is sent by God into the world. The church is the representative of God on the earth. The authors provide the concept of the reign of God as an overarching theme and lens by which to view the call of the church. It is a helpful concept because it is all-encompassing, holistic vision for the world. It is what Jesus preached. In a culture overcome by individualism which leads to selfish division, the reign of God stands out as a beacon of hope. It is this hope that the church is to radiate to the world in its communal practices as the Body of Christ. The authors offer helpful guidance for how churches can begin to live out this calling, by seeking formation which equips and empowers congregations, even collectives of churches in particular areas. The reign of God breaks down the barriers of autonomy and exposes functional Christendom for the sham that it is. The church must always be aware, even in the midst of transitioning into the missional way, of the threat and very real temptation of idolatry. Things such as image, growth, success, and security can become idols to the visible church (229).
Missional Church is a comprehensive look at the North American church, its history, current state, and the direction it needs to find. It offers a view of the church that is more than refreshing to a person discontent with the current state of nationalistic and individualized (funny how those two things so often go together) Christianity. It offers a challenge and wakeup call to those who have been misled, and encouragement to those who have been wondering what to do.
This is a must, excellent read  Jan 10, 2007
This is book is the first in a series entitled "The Gospel and our Culture Series." It was written by a team of six authors and it provides an excellent introduction to the relationship of the church and culture and why the church must see itself not as "having" a mission, but "being" a missional community. The book challenges the consumer approach that is found in much of the North American church and promotes a missional ecclesiology that sees the church as a living, breathing organism that is being sent (Apostolically) into the culture to bring transformation where ever it goes.

List strengths of book.
The book does an excellent job, better than I have ever read anywhere else, on presenting the mission of God. The book also offers an excellent bibliography of more than twelve pages for research on a missional ecclesiology.

List weaknesses of book.
While the book is probably strengthened by the work of the research team the writing in the book seemed at times to be too varied between authors. Secondly, the book would have been strengthened with concrete examples of what a missional church look likes.
The Reign of God  May 15, 2006
Among other things, "Missional Church" deals unusually comprehensively with the term "reign of God". Mostly, when one encounters this term, its meaning is assumed or merely suggested through the context. I shall seek here merely to draw out what the text itself communicates.

A reign is not the same as a kingdom. "Reign" is represented in the New Testament by the Greek word "hegemonia" (e.g. Lk. 3:1), while "kingdom" is represented by the Greek word "basileia" (e.g. Mk. 1:15). The authors maintain that the reign of God "better captures . . . the dynamic meaning of basileia". The word "kingdom", on the other hand, is "too static, political, and archaic".

The reign of God, therefore, is something in progression. It has to do with "God's intended future for the world". It envisions "a world characterized by peace, justice, and celebration". This may be summarised as "shalom" (broadly: peace). This is not "a social project" that we ourselves bring about. Rather it is something that we "receive and enter". It is "accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus". That is, it is God's project, of which we ourselves may become a part.

In the past -- in fact "many times through the church's history" -- the Church has "lost its sense of this gospel of the reign of God". It did this by separating "the news of the reign of God from God's provision for humanity's salvation". This made salvation a "private event" by separating "personal salvation" from "the advent of God's healing reign over all the world". Humanity's salvation, therefore, has to do with a coming, an "advent", over all the world.

What does it mean to "receive and enter" the reign of God? This touches on "the further issues of repentance and faith". Repentance is "a turning from other hopes and loyalties" -- that is, hopes and loyalties other than God's intended future for the world. Faith is defined as "a turning . . . from sinful rejections of God's rule as well as carefree disdain for God's mercy and care".

In fact, the theme of the reign of God is closely bound up with the theme of the whole book. The Churches of North America are in a "predicament", and need "a dramatically new vision". Therefore the Church needs to rediscover its essence "in its origins in the gospel", and this is "eschatological in character". It is "centered profoundly . . . in the announcement that the reign of God is at hand."
Prepare to Re-Think  Mar 3, 2006
I believe this book is a critical read for the church of today--calling for a restructing of perception of the church from a "place where" to the church as a "people sent." Many of the philosophical shifts presented in this book could lead to a revolution in the ministry of the modern church--a revolution that I believe is much needed.

Great book for mainline churches  Sep 19, 2005
Keeping in mind the audience for this book, which is mainline churches, the authors do an excellent job of challenging us to rethink how we do church. Society is not what it once was, so should the church remain the same in order to communicate effectively the Gospel story? Though one reviewer did not find the book useful, he was already of the postmodern generation and not necessarily the key audience. My seminary president led a class with this book as one of our main resources. We all found it both thought provoking and well worth reading.

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