Ryan Bolger & Missional Communities

RB: Just as some of the best missionaries served and facilitated the development of local theologies overseas, 21st century missionaries in the West need to facilitate self-theologizing communities rather than impose 16th century responses to current questions…. I still dream of being part of a community like this — self-theologizing, activist, highly committed monastic communities where all areas of reality, including social justice work, are spiritual.

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Ryan Bolger graciously participated in an interview for the company I work for. I’m bummed that I couldn’t be there to hear him. However, he has blogged some of his responses to the interview. If his blog is any indication, then the footage our company got is suh-weet!

Here’s a quote from Ryan’s blog:

A2: From your vantage point, what trend(s) do you see developing for the future of missions during this 21st century?

RB: Just as some of the best missionaries served and facilitated the development of local theologies overseas, 21st century missionaries in the West need to facilitate self-theologizing communities rather than impose 16th century responses to current questions. I see less a focus on the church service and more on the mission. These will be ‘activist’ communities — no spectators allowed. Churches will become more like highly committed monastic communities. The producer/consumer dualism of clergy/laity will become less obvious. Churches will not adhere to the sacred/secular split — they will all areas of reality as spiritual — even social justice work.

Man, this gets me going! I still dream of being part of a community like this — self-theologizing, activist, highly committed monastic communities where all areas of reality, including social justice work, are spiritual.

After 2 1/2 years, I know more than ever before that this kind of incarnational community doesn’t develop overnight. (I think if it does, then it’s probably not authentic.) Incarnation into the human embodiment of God’s new creation takes a lot of time, intentional communion with Jesus and subsequently, major deconstruction of our lives so that we can be renewed into Christ’s likeness.

And I’m just thrilled to be along for the ride with good friends.

2 thoughts on “Ryan Bolger & Missional Communities

  1. Hi David. For me, the term self-theologizing refers to the incarnational community’s task to work out what embodying Christ looks like in their specific location. As I mention in another post, I borrow heavily from N.T. Wright’s “Five-Act Play” hermeneutic. The early church, as documented in the New Testament, was the first scene of Act Five. It is the natural narrative arch from the previous four acts — 1) Creation, 2) Crisis, 3) Israel, and 4) all of what had come before now climaxed and fulfilled in Christ. The opening scene of Act Five shows God’s people “self-theologizing” the continuity and discontinuity of their new reality in Christ from the previous acts of God’s drama. God’s people in the 21st century must do the same — a form of improvisation that flows from a deep saturation and living knowledge of what has come before us as documented in Scripture and Church history, energized by God’s Spirit as we live out our communal faith in our portion of the world. It’s more than WWJD. It’s the personal and communal formation that must occur as we pursue true wisdom and goodness in the world.

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