Thursday, February 08, 2007

Leadership Gone Post Modern

When I held the latest issue, Winter 2007 of Leadership in my hands, I was surprised…shocked actually. There is a change of cover design. It looks like Wired, the post modern magazine for Internet nerds (in the good sense of the word). Even the size of the magazine has changed. It is the same size as Wired, though not as thick. There is a sentence under the magazine title Leadership- real ministry in a complex world. Leadership journal has been the staple for pastors, ministries leaders and evangelical leaders for decades. It is for leaders what Christianity Today is for evangelical Christians.

Editor, Marshall Shelley’s editorial, aptly titled “What’re You Looking At?” mentioned that for the past year, the journal has been exploring the overarching theme of “The Church and Culture” and one things has been clear to them. The church is entering a new era. Hence the extreme makeover of a conservative magazine.

The magazine is more colourful, more “visualcy” in acknowledging that people are normally visually attuned. There are more colour photos, graphics and artwork in the page formatting. There is also more “connectedness” in more exposure to blogs and websites, often giving the URLs. In this issue, some blogs comments were printed. In some pages, the reader is led to URL by a printed “cursor”. YouTube was mentioned as a possible tool for church to use. Overall the magazine looks and feels like Wired! Except Wired is thicker and has lots more interesting advertisements. And to complete the move to post modern ministry, Brian McLaren is given a regular “Commentary” column. Ouch. When a mainline leadership magazine makes a transition to post modern, it is a powerful statement.

In one of the articles, Tim Condor, the founding pastor of Emmaus Way in Durham, North Carolina writes that “missional” churches are not of one variety but many. He identifies 5 streams which are worth noting:

(1) The Reformation stream.

Characterized by a strong identification with a particular theological system (usually reformed theology, though other systems apply) combined with creative commitments to authenticity in a post-modern culture. This stream retains the gospel message as conceptualized in reformed systematics while radically adapting its methodology.

(2) The Transitional stream.

These churches allow missional Christianity to develop alongside traditional understandings of church life. These churches blend elements of missional strategy with other approaches (small groups, seeker sensitivity, etc.)

(3) The Pre-Reformation stream.

Fellowships in this stream are exploring sacramental theology and practices. Much attention is directed towards the grand narrative of God’s redemptive work with a desire to connect with the pre-Reformation and even pre-Christian Judaism.

(4) The New Monastic stream.

Not “church” by traditional definitions, those communities are guided by some form of communal living, a commitment to a rule of values (such as relational reconciliation, peace, advocacy for the oppressed, and hospitality), a shared rhythm of spiritual expression (“offices” such as common meals, liturgies, and prayer gatherings), and a priority of place (a parish mindset that focuses ministry toward a defined local community).

(5) The Post-Church stream.

These non-traditional expressions, such as house churches or informal communities of Christian sojourners, avoid the forms and norms of institutional church

Condor, Tim, 5 Missional Streams, Leadership, Vol:28, No:1, Winter 2007, p.48

Condor has given us an excellent overview of the missional church compared to Scott McKnight’s Five Streams of the Emerging Churches from Christianity Today. McKnight gives us 5 characteristics of the emerging churches while Condor gives us 5 possible forms the missional churches can take. Whether we can equate emerging churches with missional churches, the jury is still out on that one. However, we can move one step closer to understanding what is happening in the emerging/emergent/missional churches arena.

Soli deo gloria

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Blogger Missional Jerry said...

glad to see an institution like Leadership showing the bravery to change

12:38 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hello missional jerry,

Yes, it is indeed gratifiying to see that an established journal like Leadership with such a large conservative readership willing to make the risk of change.

There is still hope after all.


1:25 AM  
Blogger andre said...

Missional churches...I think the 5 streams are helpful but how would you define the essence of missional? Is it a church with intentional structures, programs and lifestyle to engage post modern society?

Sometimes, I can't help but feel it's another buzz word that the church at large has locked into....for now....until another one comes along. What do you think?

11:28 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Andre,

I have been trying to understand the word missional and have blog on it before.

May I invite missional jerry who have done so much work with missional churches to comment here.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

i like the 5 streams model, very helpful. i think for many new Christians or even pre-ones, stream 5 usually are more appealing.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi alwyn,

It is interesting that you think stream no:5 is appealing to new Christians or pre-Christians. That is a totally 'non'institutionised' church setup. More like a fellowship.


11:57 PM  
Blogger Missional Jerry said...

The essence of missional things:

To love the Lord your God with all your heart,soul and mind and to Love your neighbor as yourself.


To seek and to save that which was lost.


We are blessed to be a blessing.

Its a move from attractional to relational.

From building the body to building the kingdom.

To a focus on those on the outside and not those whose fire insurance card is punched.


11:55 AM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

Hi Alex, yes...whilst obviously it doesn't apply to all 'new/non'-Christians, in my experience i've discoevered that people have found YET another "religious institutional' setting somewhat threatening, formal, 'dry', etc.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

dear missional jerry,

Thank you for sharing the essence of missional things. It is very helpful.

6:43 PM  
Blogger jacksons said...

Great Observations! I have been advocating profesional media engagement by Christianity for some time now, and this website does it better;

12:45 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi jacksons,

welcome. We missed your comments. I always like your insights and the different perspective you brings to a discussion.Yes, we desperately need professional media engagement for Christianity. the amateurs can only do so much.


12:13 AM  

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