Summer 2015

What Mission is this Anyway?

The Charleston Nine: Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson Responds

16 mins read

Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 on the occasion of remembering the Charleston 9 and embracing the issue of race in the United States. The worship service was held in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Originally published

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Why Don’t We Just Call it Being the Church?

12 mins read

I was sitting around a table with a group of colleagues in young adult ministries about a year and a half ago. We had been tasked with coming up with a name for a new initiative to the PC(USA)’s 221st General Assembly, an initiative that would eventually be known as

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The ‘Missional’ Church

17 mins read

Ark of Escape or Community of Reconciliation? When I teach the Reformed Confessions to students at Union Presbyterian Seminary, I like to point out that one of the benefits of belonging to our communion is belonging to a tradition with a dynamic understanding of confessionalism. Unlike the Lutheran tradition, which

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Just Hospitality and the Missional Church

11 mins read

My time doing street ministry with folks experiencing homelessness has not changed the world. It hasn’t changed the oppressive social structures that keep people from adequate healthcare or nutrition. It hasn’t even done much to change the situations of the people with whom I work, people that I now consider my friends. What it

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One Half-Step Out of a Hobbit Hole

17 mins read

“When you set out on this adventure, you will never be the same.” These are the grave but hopeful words spoken by Gandalf the Grey to a young hobbit named Bilbo; [1] and thus begins the epic tale of The Hobbit. In many ways, following Christ mirrors this classic tale of a

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A Letter to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

9 mins read

A letter from a Presbyterian Teaching Elder, baptized and raised in the PC(USA), to all my Friends in Christ: I write out of a concern that the word ‘missional’ does not help us learn from the errors so evident in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s general approach, which has been to

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The Church: Missional or Missing?

13 mins read

In our current context, is the Church missional – or missing? It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? A little too black and white, perhaps, considering the question that almost inevitably follows: What is the Church’s mission? That question, too, is almost designed for failure – or at least for absurdity

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Theology Begins in the Barrio

12 mins read

A Critique of Paternalism in Missional Theology “I think the idea is crap.” This is what I told my professor as I introduced myself to a class on missional theology at Fuller Theological Seminary during the summer of 2010. I actually used another word, but that word is unfit for

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The Flavor of Mission in Fishtown

12 mins read

Our Church’s Expression of the Gospel Through Community For me, answering the question, “What is the church’s mission?” feels something like trying to describe to someone what soda is. Soda (or ‘pop’) is simply a sweetened carbonated beverage. It could contain real sugar or artificial sweetener. It could have enough

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Mission, Brokenness, and Celebration

8 mins read

The party had turned to crying. Children, women, and men – mostly Muslims and a few Christians – who were seen as disabled or otherwise, impaired had gathered in the ancient North African Medina to celebrate the town’s first therapy center for children with motor disabilities. In that society, as

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Mission in the Holy Land

13 mins read

Walking Where How Jesus Walked “From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right; From trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night; From pride of race and station and blindness to your way; Deliver every nation, Eternal God, we pray.” I listened to the notes

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Missio Dei and the Problem of Western Captivity

16 mins read

The Missio dei. In Latin, it means, simply, ‘mission of God.’ The term itself is perhaps symbolic of the way we have grown in our understanding of the relationship between mission, God, and God’s church. As a concept, missio dei has gained popularity and influence throughout the twentieth and twenty-first

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The Missional Church: The Church Catholic

20 mins read

I was teaching youth and college Sunday school a few years ago, and we were discussing the Apostles’ Creed, particularly the part where Christians confess belief in the ‘holy and catholic church’. One student spoke up and asked what the Creed meant by ‘catholic’. Without much thought, I rattled off

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New Decade, National Mission,* and the Suburban Archipelago

11 mins read

This article was originally published as an Op-ed in the Presbyterian Outlook on January 10, 2010. It is reprinted in this issue of Unbound with permission, with an invitation for the reader to reflect on how we have and have not lived into visions from the past. Look for further

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Living in God’s Mission: Being Fully Alive

20 mins read

“I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white

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Living Missionally: Energizing Partnerships

15 mins read

But What Does That Mean? First we partner with God and use an incarnational model. “God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.     And he knows everything, inside and out.

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Dismissional on Missional?

20 mins read

The Growth of Missional Language Missio-Logio: The Many Languages of Mission The theme of the 2015 annual meeting American Society of Missiology (ASM) was “Missio-Logoi: The Many Languages of Mission.” It was a fascinating conference, with missionaries and scholars from across denominations and from many traditions meeting in Wheaton, Illinois.

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