I've been absent for awhile as mission trips, everyday ministry, and then unexpected, historic tornadoes have taken attention.
I've just found an intriguing manifesto, and currently listening to a dialogue with the author Alan Hirsch regarding this recent document. I enjoy some of the approach and challenges that Hirsch offers in his writing so this got my attention. These are Baptist and evangelical thinkers, but they've surprised me a little as they are trying to build a stronger theology for mission as well as to make a strong tie between an ecclesiology driven by mission. This isn't the typical Baptist fare and deserves some attention and discussion in UMC circles. Of course, we'll take what is useful to a Wesleyan view and can find applications and use to our perspective.
They begin the missions document by defining God as a "sending God" which frames the document. While their first affirmations on authority and gospel shows their theological and denominational affiliation their discussion might have some clues that even Methodist congregations and the UMC may learn from as we also seek to be in church in mission. I'd be curious how you view the document since the UMC is currently struggling as we look at numbers, upcoming General Conference, and how to best position ourselves given the various realities. I REALLY appreciate that this is a theological manifesto yet has much practical application.
The Manifesto offers that a "missional community is one that regards mission as both its originating impulse and organizing principle" & then points to the Christological nature of mission/church. The document states that "Missional represents a significant shift in the way we understand the church. As the people of a missionary God, we are entrusted to participate in the world the same way He does-- by committing to be His ambassadors. Missional is the perspective to see people as God does and to engage in the activity of reaching them. The church on mission is the church as God intended."
Part of the live video I just heard included discussion by Hirsch as to how the church needs to develop metrics which gauges the "impact of those outside the church." As Hirsch said that I wondered what the "game changer" view might mean for my church and denomination.