What kinds of challenges does the missional conversation present to Churches of Christ?
There are three major challenges that I feel pressed by in my engagement with the missional conversation within the context of Churches of Christ.
There are three major challenges that I feel pressed by in my engagement with the missional conversation in the context of Churches of Christ. The challenges are (1) hermeneutical, (2) generational, and (3) relational.
The Hermeneutical Challenge...
One of the great strengths of a missional orientation is the need to be mindful of the biblical narrative. This enables theology to be more than proof-texting, traditionalism, and sometimes just downright weird. (We can't have a kitchen because we can't find it in Scripture, but a church building at all is not a problem.) We are people who have a rich heritage of serious committment to and engagement with Scripture. The missional conversation gives us bearings to re-examine our stances on a number of theological issues with discernment and greater context. This is not to suggest that we have missed the boat on everything. But it is to say that space needs to be created to re-examine, re-articulate, and if necessary to re-orient ourselves more closely with Scripture.
The Generational Challenge...
Churches of Christ, like much of Christendom has been guilty of drinking the generational kool-aid. Nursery, Children's, Youth, College, Young Professionals, Young Marrieds, Young Families, Not Quite so Young Families, Grandparents of not quite so young families...do you get the idea yet?
Worse than that, we have too often functionally removed some of the most important segments of our congregation (the very young and the very old) and have not expected or enabled them to participate in the Mission of God, much less with each other!
The missional conversation here is helpful because it reorients our focus toward the Mission of God and not the "mission of the church" (althought it seems most of Protestantism can't agree exactly on what that is). This means that ALL ages, all demographics, all people have a place in God's mission in which the church has been caught up. This is huge and MUST be recovered by Churches of Christ for our continued growth and health in God's kingdom!
The Relational Challenge...
Our religious heritage, the American Restoration Movement is rich and deep. But it appears to me that we have wandered far from the giants of our past into tribalism, exclusivism, and sometimes downright arrogance at the expense of not only others who are striving to follow Christ but also at the expense of the unbelieving world. I think what we will find is that some of the richest contributions that we have to make as a fellowship to the missional conversation will come from the giants of our past and their vision being renewed among us in the present. We need to reclaim the Kingdom vision of Lipscomb, Harding, and others, and God help us, we will do so.
Are there any other challenges that are out there? If so, what are they and how might we move forward?