Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Mystery, Memory and Mission

Missional.jpgAlan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren are onto something: in their new book called Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Allelon Missional Series) ,  they liken the “missional church” as a river with three currents shaping it:

Below we give the factors they think are “damming” the flow of mystery, memory and mission. [An important set of insights can be found in those suggestions.]
How important are these elements to church life? What do you think of their suggestions about modernity and postmodernity as damming up the missional river?
You can’t answer the question “Why Israel?” There is no answer other than God’s election. You can’t answer the question “Why those first Christians? Why Peter or Paul?” No answer. It’s God’s own mystery. That election, as we saw in Chris Wright, is about being chosen for missional purposes.


Memory is also central to the people of God and God’s missional ways. Memory is not about factual recall so much as it is about a Story that shapes identity. That Story gives rise to contemporary actions to embody and live out that Story. Think Passover and Lord’s Supper — not so much soteriological events but of ways we participate in the Story that defines us and gives us identity. Memory is formative.
Mission is the outgrowth of mystery and memory: the church demonstrates (embodies) what God’s mission is to be.
Now I skip to the next chp because they give the items that dam up the flow of the missional river:
1. Modernity: 
***** because mystery is reduced to history, chance and preferences
***** because memory is replaced by progress, future, next and frontier
***** because mission is reduced to self-actualization.
2. Postmodernity:
***** because mystery is reduced to spiritual options and experiences
***** because memory is replaced with nostalgia, borrowing bits and pieces.
***** because mission is recasted as playfulness …
Comments read comments(4)
post a comment

posted December 14, 2009 at 8:39 am

I think that the critique of postmodernity is especially insightful, and explains much of what is happening in our evangelicalism as of late. There are trends which appear to be good and worthwhile but are quickly flopping or falling short, and this helps get at the reasons why.
Also, I am concerned what has happened to the concept of ‘mystery’ as a whole. Not to be overly anecdotal, but it has been my experience that many believers think of mystery as something that is confusing, contradictory, or illogical. This means that they shy away from any mystery in the faith because they want something that ‘has all the answers’ and are finding ways to ‘solve the mystery’ rather than explore the richness and depths of it.
Certainly this notion has a part to play in a discussion like this, but perhaps rests somewhere between Modernity and Postmodernity. I’ve not pushed on this, so I would be interested in other perspectives and how it relates to the missional church.

report abuse

John W Frye

posted December 14, 2009 at 10:46 am

Is “the Story” to Roxburgh and Boren the same as “metanarrative” in contemporary discussions?

report abuse

Scot McKnight

posted December 14, 2009 at 11:04 am

John, can’t recall if he gets into the metanarrative deconstruction theme. And I can’t get to the book right now.

report abuse


posted December 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm

OK–disclaimer–I have not read the book.
But it’s interesting in his definitions of Modernity and POMO his reduction of these two terms smacks of Modernity!
Having said this does he offer a way beyond this?
Also, I notice when folks criticize Modernity or POMO they usually resort to these very same methodologies–is this inescapable and does it therefore negate the critique they offer?
Or, is are they going to offer a critical realist way foward?

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.