Becoming Missional: Denominations and New Church Development in Complex Social Contexts

Book, 2010, 161 pp
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Christian leaders at every level of the church are working in the crucible of multiple realities where paradoxical trends occupy the same space and time. Today church leaders find themselves bearing witness to the gospel in contexts of discontinuous change. Nowhere is the complexity of mission strategy more apparent than in the relationships among denominational leaders and church planters. Enlightenment era models of mission relied heavily on models applied to cross-cultural contexts with little consideration of the congruence of the model with the cultural context. While mission practitioners have done their share of experimentation in the field, denominational centers typically play the role of referee in determining acceptable and unacceptable mission strategies.

While it may seem that everything is up for grabs in the ecology of the church, the complexity and change Christians leaders face is not only a problem. Change and complexity also offer frame-breaking opportunities. The narratives in this book, presented as four case studies of church planting, will explore issues with which local, regional, and denominational church leaders struggle as they attempt to plant churches at a time when modern models of mission are quickly losing their relevance and coherence. This study will identify new pathways forward so that church leaders at every level can incarnate a winsome witness in social contexts that are increasingly characterized by complexity, paradox, and discontinuous change.

"This important study is based on careful empirical analysis of the emerging North American environment, rigorous questioning of past practices, and theological-missiological critique of the prevailing ecclesiology. The roles of structures and leadership in facilitating effective missional witness is canvassed. Dr. Boshart demonstrates that leadership at all levels is crucial to a dynamic and fruit-bearing church. This is a vision-building work that challenges and inspires." --Wilbert R. Shenk, Senior Professor, Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies

"An insightful and challenging exploration of a vital but under-researched subject--how can denominational structures and personnel interact creatively and constructively with pioneering church planters? Advocating a dynamic interplay of theology, missiology, ecclesiology, and centres theory, David Boshart draws on interviews with church planters and denominational leaders and illustrates his findings through four extended case studies. Although his recommendations are specific to Mennonite Church USA, his research and conclusions are of much wider significance." -- Stuart Murray, Anabaptist Network, UK

"David Boshart's Becoming Missional makes a significant contribution. Boshart hospitably listens to the experiences of church planters and denominational leaders, all of whom inhabit a post-Christendom culture in which old approaches no longer work. Recognizing anti-missional tendencies in thought and culture, Boshart draws upon social sciences, theology, and hands-on experience to propose approaches for all churches that are story-based, collaborative, and dialogical. Boshart's book is practical, hopeful, and needed. I recommend it highly." -- Alan Kreider, Professor of Church History and Mission, retired, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

TopicChristian Mission
PublisherWipf and Stock Publishers

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