Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great News!

I already mentioned that I am doing Local Area Coordinator of the Canadian Theological Society work for Congress 2009 (formerly the Learneds). And I just received notice that the paper I proposed was accepted! That is so good. This one is similar to the paper I have accepted for Concordia's conference next month, but a bit of a twist. "Micro-Missional Ecclesial Identity" is the title, and I am exploring the way in which alternative forms, in this case deliberately small faith communities, are efforts to wrestle with what it means to be the church. In a sense it is about an incipient ecclesiology. But what is exciting is that now I am officially using a term - micro-missional - that my dear friend Brad coined, and using it in an academic setting. I think this term is important for a number of reasons.

  1. It identifies that every effort of the church re-inventing itself can be named, can be a model. Now I'd be the first to say that a model doesn't help you, and in fact it is the following of models that is part of the reason that micro-missional options are emerging. But, never-the-less you can always determine bounds by which to describe a movement and this is helpful for academics who wish to understand a given model.

  2. It situates the churches that have affinity with this model/tag as a response to the mega-church. I know that emerging church commentators have made this observation already, but here I'm naming the model in a way that directly confronts an alternate model which does not provide a satisfactory ecclesial identity to the micro-missional crowd. This is not a value judgment in my form, but an entrance into a conversation that might shed light on what kind of ecclesial identity micro-missional might describe.

  3. It is a super cool way of describing a counter-cultural trend - the love of the small. As someone who has experienced both models, it is easy to describe the differences in terms of benefits (on both sides). But there is something that is unfortunately hip about being small that also allows us to bring to bear a critique.

I also situate this movement in what I call cycles of evangelicalism. Something that I have adapted from the historical work of Robert Webber, particularly his book The Younger Evangelicals. This allows me to ask questions that I know aren't in the immediate conscious of micro-missional leaders. Questions like: what will this look like when it integrates into the larger sense of evangelical identity?

A lot of work ahead of me. I'm excited to be bringing my questions and research into an ecumenical context and amongst academic theologians.


Les said...

Well done mate. I am very proud of you.

One of Freedom said...

Thanks Les.