At the recent Funding the Missional Church conference, organized by JoPa Productions and held in Minneapolis, Tony Jones gave a presentation on his “10 Myths About the Missional Church.” In classic David Letterman style, here they are:
- Missional is trying to put the conventional church out of business — Not so, says Dr. Jones.
- Missional is anti-denominational — Many of us were surprised to hear Tony say this, but he clarified his personal position: “I am anti-denominational, for theological reasons.” But what Tony thinks is not what typifies all of the missional church, thank God! (grin)
- Missional is a new way to “do church” — “Missional is a thorough-going theological re-evaluation, a thorough-going rethinking of church, what it means to be a disciple of Christ. … Everything should be re-thought in view of missional church.”
- Missional has a spokesperson — Tony affirmed the broad spectrum of theological voices in the missional church conversation, which is the philosophy of this blog, as well.
- Missional doesn’t appreciate church history — “Missional is more of a pastiche, a mosaic, a re-appropriation of church history in a different kind of fashion.”
- Missional is confined to the American church white guys — Tony on the role and place of hipster Gen Xers: “There is that strain in the movement, but you can talk to anybody who’s gone to other places, talk to Brian McLaren, and you’ll meet people who say they’re going through the same things. … [They say,] ‘We’ve been doing missional the whole time, now how do we partner in this thing?'”
- Missional does not believe in authority — “The hermeneutical authority, the authority in the community to interpret the sacred text, set the agenda, set the rules, decide what happens in the church, the dynamic is different. … Missional is saying some of those dynamics are changing, it’s becoming more crowd-sourced, more open-sourced, more participatory.”
- Missional is a reformation of evangelicalism — Tony stated that mainline denominations are “just as involved in this.”
- Missional only appeals to young people — The evidence overwhelming points to the contrary. This missional shift is very much multi-generational.
- Missional is lipstick on a pig — Tony decried those who are wringing their hands, just imagining that missional is a “last-ditch effort to save what is unsalvageable.” The missional shift is much more than that.
As “a thorough-going theological re-evaluation,” Tony pointed to some of the major implications of missiology on other theological questions:
- the doctrine of God — What do we think is the nexus of divine/human action? How are we perceptive of God’s activity in the world? Are we even capable of doing that?
- kenosis — the self-emptying of God in the crucifixion; is this a/the model for missional engagement?
- the Messianic secret — Pointing to the passages where Jesus urged people not to tell others about him, Tony posited, “The job is telling people about the good things Jesus is up to in the world, but Jesus is saying to do the opposite.”
- the doctrine of imago Dei — What are the implications of this on our missional engagement?
- sacred/secular dichotomy — Tony asserted, “There aren’t ‘thin places,’ every place is a thin place.”
- the doctrine of the Trinity — “A reinvigoration of trinitarian theology has affected the missional movement. … If your church is fundamentally relational, then perhaps it is not fundamentally liturgical or eucharistic.”
- the doctrine of revelation — “How do we know where God is up to stuff in the world? That’s a question that I can’t so easily answer and some of you are more attuned to that than me.”
What do you think of Tony’s 10 myths? Would you add more to this list? What about the theological implications? Do you agree? Disagree? What would you add?