Yet, what was extraordinary about this assembly is that collectively the majority of commissioners seemed to recognize, on some level, that in order to create a missional church we have to grant equal rights to our members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The two issues are interconnected. Think about it – if the goal is for the church to be woven into the very fabric of society – we can’t have preconceived notions about our neighbors. We have to go out with open hearts to preach and practice the message that we are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Affirming the equality of all God’s people is a prerequisite for reaching out in Christian service to all God’s people. So the GA approved overtures to grant equal rights to people who are LGBT and also approved steps to create a more missional church. In so doing, I believe the Assembly found a new way forward.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Missional and Progressive
I'm reading A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation by Rick Rouse and Craig Van Gelder (Fortress, 2008). In part I'm reading this because I've been looking for a primer on the missional church movement to use with my Elders. I'm just getting started with this brief book, but as I was reading I started thinking -- how might we be missional and progressive?
I ask this question because the more I read in missional oriented works I keep getting reminded that by most definitions to be missional is to be evangelical -- even conservative in theology even if not in practice. Yet, I'm drawn to the missional ideal because I believe that if the church is to be renewed it must understand that it's work must be tied up with what God is doing -- in the neighborhood. Thus, we become agents of God's mission.
So, taking a break, I looked up the words missional and progressive. Doing so I came upon a piece by my former philosophy professor at Fuller -- Jack Rogers. Jack was on the progressive side of things at Fuller during that era (early 80s) and has become more openly progressive over the years.
In this posting Jack spoke to the issue of being missional -- something the Presbyterians (like the Disciples) are talking about becoming -- while embracing the LBGT community. Jack notes that the drive to become missional is coming from the theological conservatives, but across the denomination there is openness to the idea -- so, he asks: what is missional?
So, he raises the issue:
This is, of course, not simply a Presbyterian issue. If we are to be a congregation where our ministry is interwoven into the very fabric of society, where we are engaging in the work of God in the neighborhood, who is our neighbor?