ecumenical (a missiology for the west)

September 26, 2008

(This post is part of a series reflecting on David Bosch’s six distinctives for a missiology of Western culture. See the introductory post for a little background.)

A mission to the West will have to be ecumenical.

Yesterday, I sat in a room full of Austin pastors, most of them in recently planted churches. I have come to know a number of them in my time here, and I’m thankful for their hearts. They were from a wide variety of denominational, and theological, backgrounds. (Chris Marlow also blogged about it this morning.) Our conversation focused on the history of Austin, and how a spirit of cooperation among the churches has not always existed. I’m proud to be part of a group of pastors who are focused more on our shared mission, and less on our differing theologies and practices.

In the mid 90s, my wife and I had the chance to go to Nepal. A friend led the trip and I recall several conversations with him focusing on the nature of denominations in Nepal. At that time, there weren’t any, and I remember him wanting to do all he could to help protect the church in Nepal from any sense of difference within.

I’m not one to rail on denominationalism. But, I can also agree with Bosch when he asserts that “an explicitly critical attitude toward denominationalism, something we not only invented for ourselves but also exported to the ends of the earth.”

I am blessed by the relationships I have with other Austin pastors, as well as nationwide through Ecclesia Network. These are relationships where there is potential for theological disagreement here and there. Yet we agree on a core orthodoxy, and beyond that, we agree on, and unite in the Missio Dei.

Next post: contextual

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