Monday, 19 September 2011

mission an idol?

I'm pretty disturbed (some would presume this is a massive step forward in my growing self-awareness!). However, what's disturbing me is the way in which we seem to be intent upon separating what God has joined together. One reason why I use and welcome the word 'missional' is precisely because it enshrines the recognition that mission is not merely the domain of narrow-minded and theologically inept pragmatists: it is about both being AND doing, incarnating the gospel AND being attractive disciples, etc.
What is disturbing me is how, in the UK, we seem to be picking up on divides from across the Atlantic, which really should not become our concern.
Some of it is language - 'mission' and 'missional' have become inter-changeable words, which seems to my way of thinking a mistake, not universally accepted, or understood and mis-communication results are rife.
So, Mike Breen writes a blog entry: 'why the missional church will fail', which is all about how important discipleship is: 'if you make disciples, you will always get the church, but if you try and build the church you will rarely get disciples'. Agreed, but is this our point of tension? Mike's, from the UK, but now based in the States (incidentally I have huge respect for Mike and this is in no way critical of him) and I suggest it may be an appropriate challenge there. It may a relevant conversation in the USA, but where discipleship AND mission are seen as being intrinsically missional??
So, we get an article highlighted on the BU new sweep, again from the States, 'Has mission become our idol?' I can see ways in the States where the way in which this question is posed and the challenges is presents to some people and agencies, but is mission our idol here in the UK? I think, if mission had the place where it could even begin to be considered as a question, we'd be alot furtehr down the road than we are. At present, we're a couple of light years away!
So, I think 'On the Verge' is a great book in many ways, but are we on the verge here in the UK? The chance would be great thing.
So, when it will dawn, we are in the UK and not the USA? 


Geoff Colmer said...

Hi Nigel! I found your understanding of 'missional' interesting. Is this how it's generally understood, as joining mission (especially with an emphasis on the incarnational) together with making disciples? Does 'encouraging missionary disciples' encapsulate this?

Nigel Coles said...

cheers Geoff - basically yes, but I sense another blog coming on!