Statement on Missional Theology

The 2008 Church of the Lutheran Brethren Annual Convention passed a motion that called for the formation of a Study Committee on Missional Theology which would draft an exegetical paper (and/or a position paper that is exegetically anchored) delineating the implications of these teachings for faith and life, which was to be considered by the 2009 Annual Convention of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. The President’s office selected seven individuals to serve in this task and the committee launched a working strategy which included a preliminary list of readings (see below) essential to understanding the primary and foundational teachings of missional theology, out of which committee members identified terms and concepts that were essential to the study, and constructed a topical framework for writing the paper.

Our goal in the project was 3-fold, drawn from a December 11, 2008 letter from President Egge:

  1. to provide a basis for understanding missional theology
  2. to provide an exegetically-based standard by which pastors and congregations can assess missional theology
  3. to provide a working guide for pastors, congregations and individuals to apply missional theology as they participate in God’s mission

The paper was distributed to our congregations on May 17th, 2010, and it was reviewed and acted upon by the CLB Theological Council and the Council of Directors who brought the recommendation to the 2010 convention. The 2010 convention voted to adopt the Statement with several amendments, which have been updated on the current copy available for download below.

The Study Committee on Missional Theology counted it a privilege to serve our CLB church family in this way, and we very much sensed the weight of such an important assignment. We now commit the results of this work to our church family as we corporately seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 CLICK HERE to Download the revised resource paper that was adopted by the 2010 Convention

The Study Committee on Missional Theology consisted of:

Dr. Eugene Boe
Rev. Dale Hanson
Rev. Paul Larson
Dr. Gaylan Mathiesen (Chair)
Rev. Matthew Rogness
Dr. Jeff Seaver
Rev. Brad Soenksen

 

A Suggested Reading List

The Study Committee worked with an extensive list of materials, out of which we also were requested to make a shorter list available to our churches for the purpose of equipping churches with a basis for understanding missional theology and for carefully processing this theology and examining the implications of its teachings for faith and life. The intent of this list is not to offer endorsement for any of these works, but rather to offer suggestions for primary texts that have formed a foundation for the missional church conversation, and also some other works by which the reader might critique these works. Most of the missional material produced so far has come out of the mainline churches, particularly those from a Reformed theological tradition. The committee is aware that while material is readily available that critiques the Emergent Church movement, very little has surfaced so far that critiques missional theology. Although leaders in these two streams are in conversation, and there is some overlap, still, their histories, their theologies and methods are different, therefore, works critical of the Emergent Church movement or the larger problems of Post-Modernism, Post-Conservatism, etc. are not included here.

 

Foundational Works in Missional Theology

Guder, Darrell L. Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North AmericaGrand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1998.

This book arose out of a study and research project inaugurated by the Gospel and Our Culture Network, which is a North American expression of a conversation that began in Great Britain in the 1980s in response to publications by Lesslie Newbigin. Many consider this collection of essays to be the primary theological work on this topic; it serves as foundational piece to which many other books respond or build upon. Chapters 1, 4, 6, 8 and 9 are especially helpful in gaining an introduction to the topic.

Van Gelder, Craig The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the SpiritBaker Books, 2000.

Van Gelder has been a familiar voice in the missional conversation, and in this book he presents an ecclesiological argument that the church is missionary by nature.

Roxburgh, Alan and Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing WorldSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

A Leadership Network publication, this book arose as response from readers of the above material for information on how to develop a different kind of leadership for the missional church.

Vicedom, Georg, The Mission of God. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1965

The 20th century conversation around the “missio Dei” concept was largely started by a German Lutheran theologian back in the 1950s, Georg Vicedom, in his book “Missio Dei” which was later released in English in 1965 by Concordia Publishing House as “The Mission of God.” This book is still referenced today in works by missional authors.

 

Some Books to Consult in Critiquing Missional Theology

Beyerhaus, Peter P.J. God's Kingdom & the Utopian Error: Discerning the Biblical Kingdom of God from Its Political CounterfeitsWheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1992.

A collection of articles and presentations by Beyerhaus addressing the issues around which the mainline and Evangelical churches disagree regarding a biblical concept of the Kingdom of God. He maintains that the problem is deeper than a pragramatic solution: simply bringing both sides together in social action and evangelism. A solution must be sought in the theological foundations, in our understanding of God's redemption.

Beyerhaus, Peter. Shaken Foundations: Theological Foundations for MissionGrand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1972.

This work is in response to one of the great departures from a biblical view of mission which took place at Uppsala Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1968, where it was declared that "humanization" was the meaning of mission, and that mission must be guided by the agenda of the world. The Frankfurt Declaration on the Fundamental Crisis in Christian Mission ( http://www.institut-diakrisis.de/fd.pdf ), drafted at the Theological Convention at Frankfurt in 1970 addressed those distortions. Beyerhaus was a leading Evangelical voice in that debate, and continues that debate in this work. (See also the earlier Wheaton Declaration of 1966 athttp://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/docs/wd66/b01.html and the Lausanne Covenant of 1974http://www.lausanne.org/covenant .)

Schulz, Klaus Detlev. Mission From the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of MissionSt. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. 2009.

Schulz is a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in the department of Pastoral Ministry and Missions. This book is a Lutheran theology of mission that discusses mission from the perspective of the Book of Concord and argues that the Lutheran Confessions carry one into evangelistic engagement with the world.

 

Online Resources

Richard Mouw talks about what he learned from Carl F.H. Henry about church involvement in social justice issues.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/january/25.30.html

 

An article on the Kingdom of God by John Schaller. The article appeared in German in 1918; Professor Schaller served as president of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary from 1908 to 1920. The article is available here in either pdf or rtf format. http://www.wlsessays.net/node/1636

 

The Lausanne movement mobilizes Evangelical leaders to collaborate for world mission. See Peter Beyerhaus' paper concerning the Kingdom of God delivered at the 1974 Lausanne Congress.http://www.lausanne.org/documents/lau1docs/0296.pdf

Also, Samuel Escobar's paper on evangelism and justice issues.http://www.lausanne.org/documents/lau1docs/0309.pdf .

Also, the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Evangelism and Social Responsibilitiyhttp://www.lausanne.org/all-documents/lop-21.html

 

Also coming from an Evangelical perspective, Ed Stetzer had done a fair amount of writing and teaching on the missional church concept, and is considered by some to be a major Evangelical voice on the subject. His blog has a series of five articles on the meaning of missional. The second installment in the series is especially helpful in identifying why some Evangelicals have problems with the "missional" emphasis. It is important also to read the comments that follow these pieces. The blog is helpful in directing you to other more Evangelical sources on the topic as well.
http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/the-meanings-of-missional.html

 

A video piece on YouTube where Pastor Tim Keller gives his view of "missional church" can be accessed at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFFlSb-Zsc8&eurl=http://vodpod.com/watch/...

Craig Van Gelder has two articles that speak to his interpretive methods and his proposal for church leadership in a time when church members think that how I know what I know is not as important as how I interpret it: “Method in Light of Scripture and in Relation to Hermeneutics,” http://arl-jrl.org/Volumes/VanGelder04a.pdf and “The Hermeneutics of Leading in Mission” http://arl-jrl.org/Volumes/VanGelder04b.pdf. Much of this debate turns on the philosophy of language and grammar. A helpful discussion for critiquing this topic is found in D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), pp. 95-102; Timothy R. Phillips, and Dennis L. Okholm, eds. The Nature of Confession: Evangelicals & Postliberals in Conversation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), pp. 7-44; and Reclaiming the Center, edited by Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth and Justin Taylor, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004). See especially chapters 3-5. Although the latter book is a response to post-conservative positions, while the Gospel and Our Culture Network writers are actually more in line with what has been called post-liberalism (dealt with in The Nature of Confession), nevertheless, the philosophy of language enters into the debate with both of these streams.

 

Periodicals

A journal piece that gives a more directed critique of missional theology can be found in the journal Logia, written by Ken Schurb, entitled "Missional? The Church in Luther's Large Catechism." The article is not available in regular online databases but you can buy a copy of that issue of the journal at their web site.http://www.shop.logia.org/product.sc?productId=302&categoryId=-1

Leadership journal dedicated most of their Winter 2007 issue to the topic of the missional church.

 

Additional Suggested Resources

Christianity Today October 2009 has an article by Christopher J. H. Wright, "Whole Gospel, Whole Church, Whole World." Wright is international director of what we know as John Stott Ministries in the U.S., and is chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group, and is author of The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative. See also Mark Galli's article, "In the Beginning, Grace."

There is a 6-part series called "A Conversation: Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson" on You Tube regarding the tensions surrounding doing evangelism and mercy ministries. This comes out of The Gospel Coalition 2008.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzbSlQovq-0

Van Engen, Charles. God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local ChurchGrand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995.

This book proposes an ecclesiology that helps evangelical local congregations identify more strongly with the church universal, with a view to becoming God's missionary people, sent into the world on Christ's mission.

 

Bliese, Richard H. and Craig Van Gelder, eds. The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution. Augsburg Fortress Press. 2005.

This book interprets missional theology from an ELCA Lutheran perspective. Important chapters are 1, 2, and 3. Also included is an Epilogue of 12 commitments of a Lutheran evangelizing church. (Chapter 6 is one that Evangelicals will have a hard time with, taking a very inclusivist position toward the non-Christian world.)

 

Van Gelder, Craig. The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the SpiritBaker Books, 2007.
This is Van Gelder's version of Roxburgh's The Missional Leader.

 

Van Gelder, Craig, ed. The Missional Church in ContextEerdmans.
A compilation of papers from the first Consultation on the Missional Church at Luther Seminary, 2005.

 

Kiefert, Pat, We Are Here Now: A New Missional EraAllelon Publishing.
Kiefert is a professor of systematic theology at Luther Seminary. This book is the result of church consulting work that Kiefert has done.

 

Earlier writing by Lesslie Newbigin, whose work is still highly influential in missional thought, includes Foolishness to the Greeks; The Open Secret; and his newer The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. There is also a free 40 page publication at: http://www.newbigin.net/searches/online_texts.cfm?offset=126 . Scroll down and click on the title "Mission in Christ's Way: Bible Studies."

 

Barret, Lois Y., ed. Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional FaithfulnessEerdmans.
Case studies of nine churches with missional characteristics.

 

Rouse, Rick & Craig Van Gelder A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation, Augsburg, 2008.
A book for missional lay leaders. Rick Rouse is Senior Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Phoenix, Arizona, serves as a church consultant and teaches at Luther Seminary.