missional? again?

November 10, 2008

OK, I’m going to say this. I’m getting sick of missional.

David Bosch

Everyone likes to quote  David Bosch nowadays (read so many books on mission, and you’ll find roundabout one random quote of Bosch somewhere, as if the author just wanted to include Transforming Mission in the bibliography – Constants in Context actually seem to have read Bosch), so let me give you a quote or two:

The inflation of the concept [talking about “mission”] has both positive and negative implications. One of the negative results has been the tendency to define mission too broadly – which promted Neill to formulate his famous adage, “If everything is mission, nothing is mission”, and Freytag to refer to “the spectre of panmissionism”.

And yes, I know that he adds to this:

Even if these warnings have to be taken seriously, it remains extraordinarily difficult to determine what mission is.

But did you read that he also adds:

Attempts to define mission are of recent vintage. The early Christian church undertook no such attempts-at least not consciously.

All of these found on the first page of chapter 13 of Transforming Mission.

Missio Dei

The missio Dei is a extra-Biblical, 20th century theological concept. It’s not the heart of the Bible. I cannot see how all of the Bible can be read through this concept. It addressed certain 20th century theological questions. Nothing less, nothing more. It’s important. It’s not the heart of the gospel. I think we tend to be too sure about the heart of God in the easy way we use this concept.

Early Church

The early church wasn’t missional, they were followers of Jesus. They cared more for themselves than for the world! Yes, hear that again: They cared more for themselves then for the world. Go study Acts, see how they get together money for the poor and elect deacons to look after the poor. Which poor? There fellow Christians. These passages make me uncomfortable, I tend to think the early church was wrong. I tend to think they should have cared for the poor regardless of whether Christian or not. But this is the tradition I believe in, so maybe they were right and I am wrong.


I see this in our denomination today. Wanna be popular? Be missional. I see this on the blogosphere.Watched the Obama campaign? Share the wealth, care for the poor, care for the environment… sound familiar? Like the missional church? Somewhere in the back of my mind I have the fague recollection that when theological ideas become popular, something tend to go wrong.

I’ll continue to read missiology. I’ll still be signed up for all those missional blogs. I hope to never stop thinking what it means to follow Jesus in this day and age. But forgive me, I’m not comfortable with being missional

Am I the only one?


On my “to-read” list I have Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators. Haven’t heard about the book before 5 minutes ago, and the name Tom Sine has no meaning whatsoever. What immediately convinced me to read the book was the BLURP found on Andrew Jones’ blog:

God is doing something fresh through a new generation of “conspirators”. This new work can be seen in at least four different streams:
1. the emerging,
2. the missional,
3. the mosaic (multicultural church plants)
4. the monastic.
In this book Tom Sine present some of the innovative new models that are being created by those ministering within these diverse streams.

Talking of differing streams seem interesting. I’ve been uncomfortable with the equating of emerging with missional or monastic for quite some time. I’ve seen the renewed interest in missional churches in places which won’t easily fit the emerging conversation, which got me into the difficult question, is the missional church then the emerging church? Thus I would have to call people emerging that won’t like to be called emerging? Don’t know if anyone can follow that paragraph, but that was my thoughts.

You can find a review on the book here as well.