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Cited by. Crossref Citations. This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef. Google Scholar Citations. Scopus Citations. Export citation. Recommend this book. The Cambridge Companion to Reformed Theology. Edited by Paul T. Nimmo , David A. Optional message. Bauckham , Richard. Brownson , James. Harrisburg : Trinity Press International , Flett , John.

Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans , Goheen , Michael. By reflecting on these seven phases, this article formulated patterns for a missional church. Back to the top How does the church react to an ever-changing world? It is quite clear that the culture in which the church exists is a changing river, charting its own path without regard to the preferences of previous cultural systems. We have moved from an era of comfortable change — continuous and incremental — to discomforting change that is chaotic, mostly unpredictable and with little reference to the preceding culture.

In spite of our progress and the growth in knowledge, or perhaps because of such progress and growth, the future will be increasingly less predictable Taleb xxviii. Fighting these changes with a museum curator mentality , 1 focusing mostly on survival Minatrea and the strengthening of familiar institutions and practices Niemandt —41 , is not the correct strategy. Reading the story of the first church in Acts, one acquires a different impression and a sense that the church has a different DNA: it is, by its very nature, a change agent adept at change and up to the challenge of changing contexts.

This article investigates the challenges associated with being a missional church in an ever-changing world, as well as possible patterns to live missionally in new contexts. This study uses the important work, Constants in context: A theology of mission for today , by Bevans and Schroeder as a companion for a journey through Acts, exploring this important contemporary text in the development of a missional ecclesiology.

The ability of the early church to adapt to changing contexts, even sacrificing some of its core Jewish identity in the quest of bringing the gospel to a widening audience, serves as a clue to the development of aspects of a missional ecclesiology relevant in changing contexts. This activity stimulated an interest in Acts as a particularly relevant text for churches challenged by changing contexts. There seems to be an inevitable connection, therefore, between the need for the Christian mission and the need for that mission always to be radically contextual.

Hendriks describes this as a missional paradigm that pursues a missional and practical ecclesiology; it develops a methodological strategy on how to be a contextually relevant church. The questions that come to mind are twofold. This study builds on this story and the importance of context in Acts. In the reformed tradition, the constant reflection on missional ecclesiology can be seen as part and parcel of a reformed ethos.

Dingemans calls this the bridging function of a faith community — building a bridge between mankind, seeking to make sense of life — and the age-old Christian tradition that transmitted the gospel. McKnight focuses on the importance of reading the Bible with a pattern of discernment. McKnight The church in Acts demonstrates that the church is always forming, even as it seeks to be reforming Van Gelder — In Acts we get clues to a new vitality, a new dynamism, a new way of being a church for our time, one characterised by a sense of adventure.

Back to the top It is important for the church to recognise that contexts are always changing, precisely to be able to discern a pattern of how to live in our world. Bosch stresses the importance of reading the signs of the times, but warns of the tremendous risks involved due to the fact that it is an interpreting exercise Bosch Jonker —46 remarked on the reciprocal relationship between the text Scripture and context, but emphasised that the most important determinant is Scripture in the controlling position.

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The church must try to understand what is happening in the world and who in this world needs the life-changing gospel. We live in a global interconnected biosphere — economically, genetically, politically, biologically and culturally.

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We have become a multi-everything global community Phipps Friedman wrote two important works on globalisation, 6 The world is flat. The globalized world in the twenty-first century and Hot, flat and crowded. Why we need a green revolution — and how it can renew America Friedman describes the globalised world in the twenty-first century as a world flattened by new technologies.

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Our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown and the very improbable Taleb xxvii. These changes pose particular challenges to the understanding of the church and especially the missional church. Changes are rapid; they burst upon us, allowing little or no time to reflect. Globalisation constitutes the interruptive and tumultuous change referred to as discontinuous change Van Gelder , or, in the words of Giddens xxxi , to be living in a runaway world. It is impossible to summarise Friedman in a short article, but I am convinced that his insights into the nature of a globalised, runaway world are particularly relevant to the missional church.

The author is convinced that the Acts of the Apostles may serve us with clues to a new vitality, a new dynamism and a new way of being a church for our time, in this flat, runaway world. This has important implications for missional theology. Even if the way the gospel spread in the first century focused on the locality of people in the community, it reckoned with the communities across geographical boundaries — the Judeans, Samarians and the ends of the earth Ac Local never stood against going global.

Acts presents itself as an ideal guide for the church in a globalised, changing world. Acts as a companion giving insight into the theology of the early church In this article the missiological focus of the Bible is acknowledged. Luke wrote a historical narrative about the beginnings of Christianity Marshall , 8 but then a history charged with theological meaning. Wright Reading Luke together with Acts makes it clear that what Luke wants to tell us is that the transition from Israel to the Church is now complete and that the work of God in the covenant community is alive and well McKnight Bevans and Schroeder state that the church can only be a church when it embraces its mission everywhere and in all situations.

Acts paints the picture of the origin of Christian mission and helps the church in discerning this mission. The disciples understood themselves to be a church only after discovering their mission to the ends of earth. The Acts of the Apostles depicts the church emerging in its response to the mission with which it was entrusted and affords us with a particular insight into the way a changing context is navigated while the church is still true to its identity. The church in Acts was challenged to discern how best to live the gospel in its day and in its way McKnight This can be illustrated by the pattern of discernment found in Acts 15 regarding the issue of circumcision.

It is clear that the early church discerned that the ageless command to Abraham to circumcise was not necessary for Gentile converts — even to the point that Paul discerned that circumcision did not really matter at all. Embracing and discovering its mission, the church, through a process of discernment, found a pattern to live missionally in new contexts. These insights from Acts enable the elaboration of a theology of mission, illuminating the following three elements. Mission does not belong to the congregation.

Mission is both what God does and who God is — an attribute of God Bosch Mission thus is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God, for God is a missionary God Guder Secondly, the missional nature of the church.

Church for Every Context: An Introduction to Theology and Practice

Mission is not one of several tasks in which the church should be engaged; it is the basis and origin of the church and is the source of unity, vision and energy in the church. The church finds its being in its mission, under the guidance and power of the Spirit. Its intention and direction is orientated to the world God loves and to which it is sent Anderson The gospel is dynamic and evolves into newer and newer forms in keeping with each local situation and according to the need of the moment Gnanakan A church sent into an ever-changing environment must be fluid in its capacity to adapt while maintaining a clear commitment to its unchanging purpose Minatrea Since the very beginning, the missionary message of the church incarnated itself in the life and world of those who had embraced it, affirming that God has turned towards the world 11 Bosch , Hendriks underlines the importance of faith communities authentic communal structures that constantly develop contextually as the faith community responds to the initiative of a living, purpose-driven God.

The church is always in dialogue — with itself, with the context, with society at large, with culture; and in dialogue with the Christian tradition it inherited Dingemans The seven stages of mission in Acts.

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Back to the top Bevans and Schroeder describe seven stages of mission in the development of the mission of the church in Acts in changing contexts. The article investigated the challenges associated with being a missional church in an ever-changing world as well as possible patterns to live missionally in new contexts.

Guided by these stages, one can find a rich source of reflection for the missional church. It gives the reader an opportunity to discern patterns to live missionally in new contexts and informs the understanding of ecclesiology and missional strategy. A brief description of the stages mentioned by Bevans and Schroeder is followed by reflections on patterns emerging from these stages.

Stage 1: Before Pentecost Acts 1 The focus in this stage is on the formation of a community understanding their identity and structure as, 1 determined by the reign of God, 2 with apostolic leadership and 3 waiting on the Holy Spirit. This is important, because the Spirit not only initiates mission, but also guides the missionaries about where they should go and how they should proceed.

Reflecting on this stage and the emphasis on waiting on the Spirit, the following pattern comes to mind: the importance to wait on God; to acknowledge that discernment is a process that is fundamentally influenced by the Holy Spirit.

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The guidance of the Spirit is promised to us as we pray, as we study Scripture and as we join the conversation with church tradition. It would be much easier for God to have given us rules and regulations for everything. But God, in his wisdom, has chosen not to do that. Discernment is an element of what it means to walk by faith and is an intrinsic part of being a missional church. Keifert and Van Gelder —66 emphasise this important pattern of missional congregations: Spirit-filled missional churches expect to discover new insights into new situations. They understand that the power of the Spirit maintains the church in truth and love and that dependence on the Holy Spirit permeates every moment of a missional church.

There is something contagious about a community in which the Spirit of Jesus becomes a dynamic that not only binds the members into a fellowship of common love, but also touches all who come in contact with members of the community Anderson Stage 2: Pentecost Acts 2—5 In this stage the focus is on the unexpected Pentecost experience, where the inauguration of the expected messianic times was by the descent of the Spirit and the endowment of the community with the gift of prophecy.

The speech by Peter plays an important role in this regard. The following pattern then comes to mind: Spirit-led missional congregations anticipate new insights into the gospel. When it comes to stories, there is always more to tell.

You have never fully arrived in a relationship with a biblical text. There is always more there Sweet McKnight calls this adopting and adapting the Bible. The church is a community where hermeneutical interpretation 14 helps members to orientate themselves in the world and the Christian tradition. It is about engaging the context with a missional imagination.

The church is nothing less than a hermeneutical bridge connecting the tradition and wisdom of Christian faith with the challenges and questions of the modern world. Everyone in the community participates in this reformulation of tradition and naming of the future Dingemans , , The disconcerting transformational power of the gospel and preaching of the gospel is controversial — in the sense that it leaves nothing untouched, not even the untouchable tradition of interpreting the Bible.

Preaching is transformation because it opens up fresh understandings of the meaning of the gospel. This means that we adopt and adapt the Bible, applying parts of the story and some of the stories in the Bible and adapting others — but always by using patterns of discernment McKnight Themes such as diversity and the expansion of the gospel message are introduced. The living God is a God on the move and on the march, who is always calling his people to fresh adventures and accompanying and directing them as they go. Stage 3 presents a rich source of reflection on issues such as the relationship between Christian and Jewish faith, the missional dimension of martyrdom and the end of the Jerusalem-phase of the early church.