Welcome to Missional Shift

'Shift key' photo (c) 2012, Toshiyuki IMAI - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Over the past two decades, the missional church conversation has become a very “big tent” conversation here in North America, with more than 1,000 books written that explore the topic, the history of the movement and its implications. There are dozens of conferences now being held annually that are exclusively “missional” or that have a “missional” learning track of some kind. There are various missional church networks that have formed to promote missional living and church planting. (Full disclosure: I helped start one of those networks.)

The missional shift seems to have really taken hold in the past 21 years since David Bosch’s monumental book Transforming Mission (1991) documented the changing landscape of global missiological thinking, and in the past 14 years since Darrell Guder compiled the Missional Church book (1998), which explored applying these missiological ideas to the North American context.

As I did for several years around the emergent church conversation, I’m excited to bring my journalistic approach to curating the missional church conversation here on the Missional Shift blog.

Who Am I?

Darrell Guder and Steve Knight

Steve Knight, right, with Darrell Guder

Because it’s important in any discussion of missional to understand one’s context, I want you to know the perspectives and biases I bring to this endeavor:

I was raised as an evangelical, and I’ve spent more than a decade of my adult life in evangelical ministries of one sort or another. (I spent six years working for Billy Graham, for example.)

But in the past several years, I’ve found myself on the outside of evangelicalism looking in, for various reasons. I’ve since found a new home as a progressive (some would definitely call me a liberal) in a mainline Protestant denomination. And that’s why you’re finding this missional blog listed under the “Progressive Christianity” portal on Patheos.

I want to explore the full spectrum of the missional church conversation, which includes both the conservative evangelical as well as the missional mainline, with perhaps a special emphasis or nod to the more progressive end of the spectrum — because that’s just how I roll.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

What are your hopes for this new Missional Shift blog? Please leave me a comment and let me know what you’d like to see!

  • paul

    Strong work. Can’t wait to read more

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Thanks, Paul!

  • Tracy

    I’ve always thought that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ ministry of feeding, healing, and in all other ways living in solidarity with the poor and outcast Jesus identified himself with.

    That said, if this is merely a corrective for all those churches and Christians who didn’t get that, fine. But I wonder what will happen if we abandon (as we largely have in the mainline) all interest in theology. I’m kinda tired of hearing sermons that are largely tepid versions of Mother Jones magazine articles. I love Mother Jones — and I know where I can find it. My church once gave me something else. Something that empowered me when I was a social worker doing difficult work all day long. I needed to know how to deal with my disappointment, with human failure, with moments of delight. If I’d come to church to hear “do more” I would have collapsed.

    I wonder if much of this phenomenon isn’t driven by evangelicals who forget that they were taught scrpture and know how to think in theological categories (right or wrong is not my concern here) and pray whereas mainline people have always tended toward imagining themselves as a singing Rotary Club. All about the good deeds. Jesus, for us? Whatever. Maybe our past “good deeds” weren’t deep enough, but we always understood the activity part. I’m hard pressed to think of a church today that doesn’t have a tutoring program, mission trips, a soup kitchen–and maybe much more. But will we leave people more tired and hungry?

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Great comment, Tracy. There are two very important things that I’m taking away from what you said: 1) the missional mainline needs to be able to articulate a theology of mission that has substance and not just platitudes about “making the world a better place”; and 2) the point of “missional” isn’t just to do more stuff, i.e., “Look busy, Jesus is coming!” I think those points challenge folks on both ends of the missional spectrum. I appreciate you posting that!

  • http://www.anabaptistly.wordpress.com Chris Lenshyn

    Well, if you are looking for people to articulate hopes I think a voice examining the grand environment or “big tent” of the missional conversation (I don’t like calling it a movement) is very important. Tons of stuff has been written on ‘missional’ and I wonder if sometimes the ethos is lost in the desire to sell books or promote blogs using that word… particularly since denomonations, polarizing theological camps etc… seemingly have all have adopted that word in some way or another. An examination of this would be very valuable to the online community.

    Look forward to reading and engaging more.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Thanks for that, Chris. I’m going to do my best at examining and sifting through everything.

  • Larry Wilson

    As a big fan of Gruder’s Work and the GOCN, I am pumped that you are starting/continuing this conversation. Looking forward to being challenged.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Thanks, Larry!

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