The Fragmentation of Evangelicalism
and the Precipitation of the Missional Movement
Part Three: Principles of Paradox, and Magnetic Attractions
and Repulsions in the Making of a “Missional Movement”
Part One looked at how different people have been viewing the fragmentation and re-formation of the “missional” movement. Part Two expanded on how there are six streams in what seems to be the next generation after “evangelical” – Emergents, Progressives, Evangelicals, Emergings, Neo-Reformeds, and Missionals – and how they seem to be identify with the “missional movement.”
As I mentioned in an earlier part of this series, I have been in all six streams (or their earlier prototypes) during my Christian experience. By that, I don’t mean just an occasional visit now and again, but extended periods with years of participation. As I’ve experienced a stream by immersing in it, I’ve come to see the pluses and minuses of it, and made adjustments. I think missional will end that series. It seems to integrate more of the pluses of all the other streams and fewer of the minuses. It’s complex, but it makes sense to me. Actually, I’ve been more missional than I realized for nearly 40 years … so, no wonder I didn’t fit in so well in so very many ministry situations before!
And since missional is my home base for “faith and practice,” I’m curious about how elements within these streams might connect or disconnect in a larger missional movement. So, my new questions arise (as always) more from reflections on concrete experiences I’ve had as an insider in them – not from reading books on abstract theory about how movements work or how things should be in the “ideal” church. And right now, I’m wrestling mostly with questions about where various streams will find their entry points into marrying with the missional movement, and what points or perspectives will prove barriers.
Here in Part Three, we’ll explore how “missional” often equates to a “third way” of paradox – those situations where polar opposites co-exist, and on the surface of things that doesn’t seem to make sense, but underneath it actually does. (I need to tell you up front why it’s paradox is crucial to understand, and that’s, because the ongoing worldwide paradigm shift is moving us toward paradox as the dominant way of processing life. If we don’t “get it” soon about paradox, we’re sunk. We won’t be able to navigate the present or the future.) We’ll also look at how paradoxes create “missional magnetic impulses” of attraction and repulsion that affect whether these streams can form a movement in the long run or not. In Part Four, we’ll look at how various discipleship systems and stances toward culture typical within the six streams compare and contrast, and provide either bridges or barriers for collaboration. So … take it slow, here we go! Continue reading