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Spring 2013 · Vol. 42 No. 1 · pp. 38–54 

Toward a Missional Spirituality in the Academy

Len Hjalmarson

A denominational executive discussed the need to bring theological training back into local contexts. It wasn’t simply that the Bible college was so far away or that the costs of both study and accommodation were so high, though both are true. Factors that subvert discipleship in the local church, like professionalism, dualism, and pragmatism, are also alive and well in the academic context. 1 Yet the need for fresh vision and engagement is critical.

It is as we move forward together, vulnerably “taking nothing for the journey,” that we may hear the Spirit afresh.

In his 2012 article, Darren Cronshaw remarks that “theological education . . . happens best in a new monastic framework that helps students cultivate inner contemplation and outer engagement, and relate their faith to everyday life and to their [distinct] cultural contexts.” 2 Theological education aimed at forming disciples for mission fosters both contemplation and action. Similarly, Forge USA leader Brad Brisco affirms that the first priority of making disciples is spiritual formation. He writes,

God calls the church to be a sent community of people who no longer live for themselves but instead live to participate with Him in His redemptive purposes. However, people will have neither the passion nor the strength to live as a counter cultural society for the sake of others if they are not transformed by the way of Jesus. If {39} the church is to “go and be” then we must make certain that we are a Spirit formed community that has the spiritual capacity to impact the lives of others. 3


Luke 10–11 is ubiquitously appealed to in the missional conversation, but most commentators stop reading at 10:15, or occasionally at 10:23. This leaves the missio Dei all about the sending, neglecting the inward, perichoretic life of God. In contrast, the ontology of the Trinity tells us that God is both community and community on mission: the rhythm is inward in love and outward in love flowing into the world.

This dynamic is clearly evident in Luke 10 if we extend our reading to the end of the chapter. The following outline demonstrates the flow of the chapter:

  • 1–24: mission and authority in mission
  • 25–28: the Great Commandment—loving God, neighbor, and self
  • 29–37: the Good Samaritan—redefinition of neighbor
  • 38–41: Mary and Martha—the rhythm of missional life: contemplation and action

Figure 1

FIGURE 1 {40}

The Great Commandment forms the heart of this chapter. It tells us that love forms the heart of the spiritual life, and that love must be expressed in three dimensions in order to live a full and integrated spirituality (fig. 1). In Luke 10, verses 1–24 tell us how we go. Verses 29–37 tell us more about the all-important other, the needy one who is nearest to us. Verses 38–41 (Mary and Martha) call us to remember that the basic dynamic includes both rest and work, contemplation and action.

Clearly Luke meant to instruct us on the holistic nature of spirituality, and that a Jesus spirituality must mirror the inner life of God: inward in love and outward in mission. The Mary and Martha story is strategically placed to reinforce this integration. Figure 2 reminds us that theological education is concerned with both inner life and outward action: a missional and a monastic vocation.

Figure 2


But if we stopped there we would miss the special way Luke has organized his material. Immediately following this rich chapter is the prayer of the disciple: the kingdom prayer. This prayer not only gives us the foundational method of missional engagement, reminding us of the need for a profound dependence on the Spirit, that “apart from me you can do nothing,” but also reminding us of the goal of all our work: that God’s kingdom {41} may come. This is the core of Jesus’ proclamation, and also the meaning of his miracles. Moreover, the giving of the Spirit heralds the coming of the kingdom, God’s shalom.


The implications of the shift to missional ecclesiology are as daunting for theological education as they are for the practice of particular congregations. . . . [If] we are challenged to recognize that our own context has become . . . a post-Christian mission field . . . then the inward oriented, church maintaining approach to theological education will not work. 4

Darren Cronshaw references Robert Banks’s appeals for a reenvisioning of theological education with a missional framework. 5 Banks is responding to what he describes as the “classical” and “vocational” models, 6 and appeals for a missional synthesis: a “third way.” Cronshaw writes, “The classical model is the ‘Athens’ model of the academy and the early church. It aims at transforming the individual and developing character, ultimately by cultivating wisdom and knowing God. The vocational model is the ‘Berlin’ vocational model of the university. Driven by Enlightenment reshaping of education, it aims at developing the theory and professional skills for building the church.” 7 Appealing for a synthesis, Banks argues for a model locating its inspiration in Jerusalem: a missional model. A missional framework sees that the best context for theological education is the world, and that the goal is mission. In this model preparation for future service does not occur by accumulating knowledge, but rather by in-service training: joining what God is doing in the world. 8

It’s important to note the different goals—the telos of each model. In the classical model “formation” was personal transformation, while in the Berlin model the goal was to train leaders: a vocational outcome. 9 In Banks’s “Jerusalem” model, formation turns toward mission and toward integration, with reference to all dimensions of life—family, friendships, work, and neighborhood—and “it encompasses the whole ministry of the whole people of God.” 10 The goal is the conversion of the world.

Laying these three models side by side, Edgar sees a gap. To these three models he adds a fourth: Geneva, a confessional approach that focuses on knowing God through creeds and church tradition (see fig. 3.) The emphasis here is on teaching about the founders and the heroes, the strengths and the traditions that are distinctive and formative. “Formation occurs through in-formation about the tradition and en-culturation within it.” 11 Edgar explains that colleges often mix different models, but tend to be shaped by one or more of these frameworks. {42}

Figure 3

FIGURE 3. Reproduced from Brian Edgar, “The Theology of Theological Education,” Evangelical Review of Theology 29, no. 3 (2005): 213.

Cronshaw accepts the four models on offer but suggests that the world has changed more than Brian Edgar or Robert Banks have suspected. He offers two further frameworks that shape his teaching: Auburn and New Delhi. Note that Cronshaw opens his paper with a clear call to shape a missional spirituality: a spirituality that is both rooted and fruitful, defined by “missional” and “monastic.”


Theology and mission, Cronshaw argues, need to be expressed for particular contexts, like his local neighborhood of Auburn. 12 Auburn is where he and his neighbors shop, exercise, drink coffee, walk dogs, school their children, and celebrate life. Cronshaw’s awareness of a pastoral call was a desire to be planted and to know his parish over an extended time frame. 13

What is the meaning and significance of “parish?” Cronshaw is on to something important, represented by the recent rise of the Parish Network in the United States and Canada. Lesslie Newbigin, considered the father of Western mission, writes, “I do not think that the geographical parish can ever become irrelevant or marginal. There is a sense in which the primary {43} sense of neighbourhood must remain primary, because it is here that men and women relate to each other simply as human beings and not in respect of their functions in society.” 14

In Christianity For the Rest of Us Diane Butler Bass describes the recovery of the village church or “parish.” How does she use this old word, an old expression of the intersection of church and place? 15

Butler Bass wants to connect with what God is doing in our world: a missional-incarnational impulse. The old idea of “parish” was that a local church served its community. The priest or pastor and the core of people who called a parish home were intimately connected in the life of the neighborhood, and sometimes the region (because when you were traveling by horse your neighborhood was both more defined and larger than a typical one now). She describes the village church, or parish, as God’s house, with the church at the center, offering hospitality for pilgrims in a strange land. 16

This is an inclusive vision rather than exclusive. It doesn’t “Christianize” the world by using blinders to difference or by obscuring the reality that some follow Jesus and some do not. But neither does it divide the world into sinners and saints.

In the village church, the parish is the focus of both ministry and mission. The parish creates open space—a centered set, not bounded. 17 There is no membership test, no intellectual position with which one must agree. At the center is the church as covenant community, a bounded set, a core of people who know Jesus and who live out the gospel. But that’s where the boundaries dissolve—a paradox. Together we demonstrate the love of God, so that others may belong—and one day believe. 18

The parish does not exist in the dualistic, insulated, and protective mode of typical Western churches: it makes the concerns of the village its own concerns. Neither does it exist in the evangelistic mode of the typical program-oriented church. Its goal is not so much conversion of individuals, though this is a good thing, but rather the transformation of the village. Villagers might never confess faith; or they might. The goal is to live as Jesus in the village, to be salt and light. Jeremiah 29:7 or shalom would be more readily identified as a goal in the parish.

If “parish” expresses this inclusive and universal vision, “place” expresses its particularity. Place both constrains and enables. Place is both given in the physical surroundings we encounter and contested as a social construct. 19 It is both concrete and a symbol for something more. As Israel’s destiny was bound up with the land, so all experience is mediated by place. Moreover, as de Certeau has noted, place is storied and all stories are a spatial practice. 20 {44}


Cronshaw wants to add the framework of parish as a means of exploring a new model of theological education, a centered-set way of seeing in a postmodern world. But Cronshaw wants to add one more frame. And this is where things get interesting.

Cronshaw notes that our broader context is a multi-cultural, pluralistic world. Christianity may remain the most common religion, but an increasing number of people are turning to other beliefs. How do we address and learn from this cultural hybridity? Cronshaw advocates for a sixth frame he calls “New Delhi.” He writes,

When people walk around our Auburn block they pass bookshops devoted to Ian Gawler writings about overcoming cancer, Bah’ai or New Age spiritualities, as well as Swinburne University Co-op or the generic “Readings” and their multiple shelves of religious offerings. . . .

A New Delhi context for missional spirituality is the ashram. As the balance of global power and Christian influence is shifting to the global South, Kraig Klaudt artfully suggests that certain Indian ashrams feature helpful characteristics that theological education can adopt. These ashrams are located “in the world” without fences; are open to all; offer community living that is engaged in service; emphasize simple living and spiritual maturity more than publishing; provide a holistic curriculum of intellectual, spiritual, political, aesthetic and relational development; and create time and space for spirituality and self-awareness. Locating theological education and missional spirituality in New Delhi reminds me to engage with the worldviews of my neighbours and to welcome the alternative model of the ashram. 21

Cronshaw’s description echoes some important aspects of the parish faced with a religious pluralism that is uniquely postmodern. The ashram model seems unique to the Indian context, and is explored in a paper by Kraig Klaudt, 22 who notes that there are many Catholic and Protestant ashrams in modern India, and that the model has been evolving for some time. Klaudt describes some of the history as well as some salient characteristics of the model.

In Sanskrit, the term asrama is derived from the root sram, which refers to a stage of intense exertion in the duties of life. A typical ashram contains a small community of people who have gathered to sustain each other during an intense spiritual quest. This quest is characterized by the relationship between the community and its guru, or spiritual leader. Meditation, asceticism, simplicity, dialogue, {45} sharing of goods, devotion, and charity have also come to characterize the ashram. 23

On closer inspection, however, the modern ashram sounds very much like the ancient Celtic communities. The Celtic monasteries were open to the public, were built near major crossroads so as to be accessible, emphasized hospitality, contained both singles and married couples, and were centers of learning as well as of vocational training. 24 Klaudt writes that “for the ashram, ‘being in the world’ is inseparable from ‘the world being with us.’ ” 25 He continues,

Not only does the ashram reach out to the world, it is designed to be a place that the world will feel at home to visit. Only on close inspection can one usually distinguish the ashram’s grounds and facilities from its neighbors. This “world-in-us” environment contrasts our familiar images of higher education, such as the “ivory tower,” which has built psychic and even real walls to keep the world out. According to Father Bede Griffiths, “One of the differences between an ashram and a monastery is that the monastery always has an enclosure to keep people out. But the ashram is completely open; people come here from all parts.” 26

While Griffiths is correct that this kind of openness and engagement was not true of the Eastern (Catholic) monastic movement, the Western Celtic movement was very different. George Hunter III writes that,

The Eastern monasteries organized to protest, and escape from, the materialism of the Roman world and the corruption of the Church; the Celtic monasteries organized to penetrate the pagan world and to extend the Church. . . . The leaders of the Eastern monasteries located their monasteries in isolated locations . . . the Celtic Christians built their monastic communities in locations accessible to the traffic of the time. . . . They had little use for more than a handful of ordained priests, or for people seeking ordination; they were essentially lay movements. 27

Whatever its similarities, there are also differences, and the ashram is a current model employed across cultures and across religions. The Celtic communities existed at the confluence of pagan and Christian cultures, not multiple religions and cultures. And the ashram has proven effective in promoting dialogue across religious barriers. Klaudt writes that, “In the east, Christian ashrams have brought people of all faiths together to learn from one another.” 28 Moreover, the ashrams have broken down traditional barriers of class and caste and have made “a quality education available without great expense.” 29 {46}

One of the qualities that should make the ashram an attractive alternative model for theological formation is the way it reframes issues of power. The ashram critiques the impersonal and formal nature of Western education. At the ashram founded by Rabindranath Tagore, it is said that, “no great distinction exists between the teachers and pupils of Shanti Niketan; all are learners together, all are endeavoring to follow the one rising path.” 30 This mirrors the convictions of Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out. He writes,

Teaching, therefore, asks first of all the creation of a space where students and teachers can enter into a fearless communication with each other and allow their respective life experiences to be their primary and most valuable source of growth and maturation. It asks for a mutual trust in which those who teach and those who want to learn can become present to each other. 31

A huge need as we sift through the detritus of Christendom is to cultivate new imagination. This requires a “creative commons,” a safe space where we leave the protection of our offices and roles and titles and become vulnerable together. It is as we move forward together, vulnerably “taking nothing for the journey” (Luke 9–10), free of the limits of our old frameworks and expectations, that we may hear the Spirit afresh and learn the questions that will bear fruit for the next generation.

Figure 4

FIGURE 4. Reproduced from Darren Cronshaw, “Reenvisioning Theological Education and Missional Spirituality,” Journal of Adult Theological Education 9, no. 1 (2012): 13. {47}

The first step in opening a creative commons is leaving behind the tacit agreement that we will not express our fears and anxieties around change and leadership. To the extent that these hidden agreements are not expressed they limit our ability to grieve the loss of familiar places and to explore new territory together. We become bound by realities we cannot name and assume those boundaries are communal norms. Roxburgh and Romanuk write, “Missional leadership involves recognizing these barriers and facilitating articulation of habits and practices that block the capacity to name what is experienced.” 32 One of the key functions of future leadership is to name these tacit realities while offering hope that God’s future is truly among us if we have the eyes to see. The ashram may be the free and open space we need to name the barriers that limit our discovery. 33

In Figure 4 we see Cronshaw’s expanded typology of theological education. It adds Auburn and New Delhi to Edgar’s four boxes, and it places Jerusalem as the hub for missional leadership and spirituality, asserting that mission is the central organizing framework to guide the other models.

Cronshaw has helped us immensely, and the new Parish and Auburn are very similar frames. The hallmark of the new Parish movement is found in Jeremiah 29:7:

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it,
because if it prospers,
you too will prosper.

The goal is community transformation. 34 The new parish operates as a centered set. It’s all about context, and it is inclusive rather than exclusive, open to all. The New Delhi model is the ashram, similar to, but different from, the ancient Celtic monastery. And the ashram is a bounded set. (More on this later, because the combination of missional and monastic calls for a third way that combines the two modes).

I believe a synthesis of the new Parish (Auburn) model and the New Delhi model might give us the missional-monastic mode we need as a new framework for theological formation. I call it the Jerusalem-Antioch model (though Jerusalem-Ashram might be more jarring and therefore more useful). Our new diagram looks like this: {48}

Figure 5



The test of missional theological education is the equipped and faithful witness of called and sent communities. To borrow Lesslie Newbigin’s classic phrase, it is the community that is the hermeneutic of the gospel. 35

It was Paul Hiebert who first examined faith communities using set theory: bounded sets and centered sets. He saw that our current frames for understanding “membership” were inadequate. But it turns out that neither the bounded set, nor the centered-set conception of community and covenant are really adequate in themselves for sustainable missional life. Bear with me for what may seem like a diversion.

I make this diversion for a simple reason: theological formation is properly an ecclesial task. Its goal is God’s kingdom reign, and it exists to see the church flourish as a sign, servant, and foretaste of the kingdom of God. Properly speaking, the goal of theological formation is ecclesial and communal: to form the visible new humanity in Christ (Col. 1:28; Eph. 2:14–16). 36

In Church After Christendom, Stuart Murray notes that conversion is about believing and belonging: it is both a story we commit to and a community we belong to. 37 But as we move along in the process it is also a way of life. Moreover, belonging, believing, and behaving are not different stages but different dimensions of a single journey. Progress in one dimension impacts the others, but rarely in a linear fashion.

In The Shaping of Things to Come, Frost and Hirsch open a discussion {49} of wells and fences using Paul Hiebert’s typology of “bounded” versus “centered” sets. They connect the “attractional,” come-to-us mode to the bounded set approach to conversion, and relate the “missional/incarnational” mode to the centered-set frame. 38 (It is this mode that makes sense of the parish frame: inclusive and open). In the bounded set, it is clear who is in and who is out based on a well-defined boundary—usually moral and cultural codes as well as creedal definitions—but it doesn’t have much of a core definition beyond these boundaries. The bounded set is hard at the edges, soft at the center. It’s like the traditional ranch with high fences. Fences keep my cattle in and keep everyone else’s cattle out. Fences are mostly about possession.

The centered set, on the other hand, is like the Outback ranch with the wellspring at its center. The Outback ranch has no fences, just a water hole. There is no need to control the animals; they always come back for water. The centered set has very strong definition at the center but porous boundaries. It is hard at the center, soft at the edges. In the centered set lies a clue to the structuring of missional communities.

The traditional church makes it quite difficult for people to negotiate its maze of cultural, theological, and social barriers in order to get “in.” By the time newcomers have scaled the fences built around the church, they are so socialized as churchgoers that they are not likely to be able to maintain their connection with the social groupings they came from. So we lose contact with nonbelievers and we lose the ability to relate to them. We extract people from their natural habitats and substitute “attractional” and “come-to” structures for missional life.

Figure 6

FIGURE 6. Reproduced from Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, ed. Darrell L. Guder (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 213. {50}

However, we see in the Gospels a process of Jesus challenging those who are around him, those who are listening in the various places he wanders, to deeper commitment. The group following Jesus were really a “centered set,” a diverse group at various stages of belief, as well as a core group who were deeply committed to him and his mission. We see Jesus challenging the group, to hear him and believe him, but also to follow him—to take up their cross, to make the gospel visible together, and to proclaim the good news of God’s reign. So it seems that Jesus is trying to work with both a centered set and a bounded set. He wants to create a covenant community—a bounded set—within the centered set. (See fig. 6.)

Murray notes that we need more than one category of belonging, 39 and it is here that “membership” language has failed us. Murray notes John Drane’s proposal: “A stakeholder model, in which there could and would be a place for diverse groups of people, who might be at different stages in their journey of faith, but who would be bound together by their commitment to one another and to the reality of the spiritual search, rather than by inherited definitions of institutional membership.” 40

Murray goes on to say that centered-set churches need custodians of the story and guardians of the ethos. Inclusivity and open-ended belonging without core maintenance is unsustainable. This is why many emerging and missional groups are adopting monastic patterns based on a rule of life. They are creating a bounded set within a centered set. Groups like The Order of Mission exist around a rule, as does the Northumbria Community or The Simpler Way. We really need two structures of belonging: an open community membership and a “core” membership, open to those who voluntarily accept its demands. 41

This is the same argument that Roxburgh, Dietterich, and others proposed in Missional Church in 1998. 42 In Agenda for Biblical People, Jim Wallis writes,

The renewal of the church will come not through a recovery of personal experience or straight doctrine, nor through innovative projects of evangelism or social action, nor in creative techniques or liturgical worship, nor in the gift of tongues, nor in new budgets, new buildings, and new members. The renewal of the church will come about through the work of the Spirit in restoring and reconstituting the church as a local community whose common life bears the marks of radical obedience to the lordship of Jesus Christ. 43


How does this relate to theological formation? It must, because theological formation is ecclesial: its goal is a people who demonstrate in their {51} shared life the presence of the kingdom. 44 To maintain that the church has a “political presence” means that in the structuring of the social body, the church lives out a particular way of life that is in keeping with the kingdom of God—an alternative to the existing social order. And arguing for a political presence, a polis, also means that we take place seriously. 45

What are the implications for theological formation of combining the monastic and missional modes? The community must exist as a bounded set within a centered set, covenanting together around a set of practices: a missional order. Alan Roxburgh writes, “We are convinced that the new leadership we need to cultivate isn’t primarily about more knowledge and content; it’s about how you form learning communities that are apprenticed into new skills and habits.” 46 Similarly, pointing to the need for committed relationships that continue over time (covenant community), Rowan Williams comments: “St. Benedict’s Rule . . . puts a few questions to us. . . . One of our problems is that we don’t know where to find the stable relations that would allow us room to grow without fear. The Church . . . ought to embody not only covenant with God but covenant with each other—a community where people have unlimited time to grow with each other.” 47

To have integrity, a forming journey must incorporate shared practices with a clear telos. However, to have missional impact, it must have permeable boundaries and be a hospitable space. 48 It must combine the qualities of both church and parish. The cohort model is a step in this direction, but it tends to be decontextualized. Moreover, relationships are more fruitful when we can continue to meet casually, and not just on Facebook. Better to build cohorts around location and shared mission, even if the shared mission is somewhat de-centered (for example, a group of leaders from several churches and agencies in one city).

In Missional Church, Inagrace Dietterich describes a communitas of leaders, with a different vision of collaboration and co-missioning. In this context she describes the work of leaders. She writes,

[The work of leaders] . . . will equip and support the congregation on its journey, however tentative and exploratory that may be. But what determines the skills and strategies for leadership is the larger image of the pilgrim people of God as a covenant community. The leaders’ primary skills are directed toward intentionally forming such orders within the community. This can only happen as leaders themselves participate in such orders. Leaders must exert the greatest attention and energy at this point for a number of reasons. First, it is the covenant community that witnesses to the gospel as an alternative logic and narrative within the social context, including in particular the larger unbounded congregation. Second, this area is precisely where leaders have been given almost no preparation; {52} there are few models from which they can learn. The leaders themselves must therefore become a novitiate, embark on a missional apprenticeship, in order to give the kind of direction needed by the emerging missional community. This is a demanding task that cannot be given a secondary role in the church. 49


  1. I detail these challenges to a missional spirituality in my book, Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2011). For insightful discussion of the current challenges of theological education with a vision for more leadership, spiritual, and missional orientations, see Linda Cannell, Theological Education Matters (Newburg, IN: EDCOT, 2006), and Robert Banks, Reenvisioning Theological Education (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999).
  2. Darren Cronshaw, “Reenvisioning Theological Education and Missional Spirituality,” Journal of Adult Theological Education 9, no. 1 (2012): 10.
  3. Brad Brisco, “What is Missional?” Available at:
  4. Darrell L. Guder, “Walking Worthily: Missional Leadership After Christendom,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 28, no. 3 (2007): 254.
  5. Robert Banks, Reenvisioning Theological Education: Exploring a Missional Alternative to Current Models (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999).
  6. These models are outlined by David Kelsey, Between Athens and Berlin: The Theological Education Debate (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993).
  7. Cronshaw, 11.
  8. Brian Edgar, “The Theology of Theological Education,” Evangelical Review of Theology 29, no. 3 (2005): 212.
  9. Edgar writes, “The aim was the training of leaders for the church, to provide people able to apply theory to the life of the body and the emphasis fell on . . . hermeneutical skills” (211).
  10. Ibid., 212.
  11. Ibid., 213. See also J.R. Woodward’s recent work, Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012).
  12. John Franke makes a cogent argument that all theology is local, in The Character of Theology: An Introduction to Its Nature, Task, and Purpose (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 90.
  13. Recently we have been working at recovering a theology of place. For an exploration see my article, “Seeing Our Seeing in Place,” Catapult Magazine 11, no. 15 (2012). Online
  14. Lesslie Newbigin, Sign of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 64.
  15. On the importance of “place” as a concept in its own right, see YiFu Tuan, Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes and Values (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974). {53}
  16. Diana Butler Bass, Christianity for the Rest of Us (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2006), 38.
  17. Alan Roxburgh sets out a helpful discussion of set theory in relation to ecclesiology in his chapter in Missional Church, ed. Darrell L. Guder (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998).
  18. See in particular Stuart Murray, Church After Christendom (Bletchley, UK: Paternoster, 2005).
  19. “As competing discourses about places are contested . . . they become constitutive of new, shared place identities.” Joseph Pierce et al., “Relational Place-Making: The Networked Politics of Place,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 (January 2011): 55.
  20. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1984), 108. So much is “place” a partner in mission that Mark Mulder can write: “a poor conception of place . . . manifest in weak ties and affiliations” fed the flight of Christian Reformed churches from their Chicago neighborhoods. Mark T. Mulder, “Mobility and the (In)Significance of Place in an Evangelical Church,” Geographies of Religions and Belief Systems 3, no. 1 (2009): 16.
  21. Cronshaw, 12.
  22. Kraig Klaudt, “The Ashram as a Model for Theological Education,” Theological Education 34, no. 1 (September 1, 1997): 25–40.
  23. Ibid., 25. Note that there are also echoes here of Victor Turner’s liminal phase he called, “communitas,” a concept used to advantage recently by Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Alan Roxburgh, and others.
  24. George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West . . . Again (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999).
  25. Klaudt, 30.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Hunter, 32.
  28. Klaudt, 31.
  29. Ibid., 32.
  30. Ibid., 29.
  31. Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life (New York: Doubleday, 1975), 60.
  32. Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 75. For further discussion of the need to create learning communities, see my unpublished paper, “Leadership, Learning Community and Ephesians 4,”
  33. Anabaptists have a head-start in framing issues around the subversion of power. We choose the towel, not the sword, we invite dialogue rather than mandate choices. The way we use power should be explicitly framed in pedagogy: we come to the table not as professionals but as brothers and sisters in the new community. Neil Holm’s paper is illuminating: “Classroom Formation & Spiritual Awareness Pedagogy Based on Bonhoeffer’s {54} Life Together,” Journal of Education & Christian Belief 12, no. 2 (2008): 159–75.
  34. Peter Block notes that, “The choice not to focus [on individual transformation] . . . is because we have already learned that the transformation of large numbers of individuals does not result in transformed communities.” Community: The Structure of Belonging (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009), 2.
  35. Guder, “Walking Worthily,” 256.
  36. See the later work of Stan Grenz in this area, “Jesus as the Imago Dei: Image of God Christology and the Non-Linear Linearity of Theology,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47, no. 4 (2004): 623.
  37. Stuart Murray, Church After Christendom (Bletchley, UK: Paternoster, 2005), 35.
  38. Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003), 47ff.
  39. Murray, 37.
  40. John Drane, The McDonaldization of the Church: Spirituality, Creativity, and the Future of the Church (Toronto: Novalis, 2002), 159.
  41. Murray, 37.
  42. Guder, Missional Church, 201ff.
  43. Jim Wallis, Agenda for Biblical People (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 64.
  44. Gerald Hiestand notes that pastors, not professors, should set the theological agenda for the church. “The Pastor as Wider Theologian,” First Things, January 2011.
  45. For a longer discussion, see Leonard Hjalmarson, “Seeing our Seeing in Place,” Zadok Perspectives, no. 115 (Fall 2012). For the church as politic see William Cavanaugh, “The Church as God’s Body Language,” Zadok Perspectives, S149 (Spring 2006): 7–13, and John Howard Yoder, Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World (Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1992).
  46. Alan Roxburgh, Missional Map-Making (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2010).
  47. Rowan Williams, “Faith and History.” Lecture, Westminster Abbey, March 19, 2008.
  48. Chris Smith writes, “The eucharistic table is at the center of our politics. At the table, we learn a politics of dialogue.” E-mail message to author, November 4, 2012.
  49. Inagrace Dietterich, “Cultivating Communities of the Holy Spirit,” in Missional Church, ed. Darrell L. Guder (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 211.
Len Hjalmarson is the author of The Missional Church Fieldbook and co-author, with Roger Helland, of Missional Spirituality (IVP 2011). He is a member of the Parish Collective, and holds a doctorate from ACTS Seminaries in Langley, B.C. Len also serves as an adjunct professor at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, and at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago.

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