I have broken my promise. I have failed to write a weekly post regarding "Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier" I apologize to both anyone who actually reads this blog as well as the authors David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw who invited me to do so. Like anyone who does not do what they promise I am full of excuses related to time constraints,that hardly seem like a get out of jail free card since we are all busy.
With that being said I would like to instead shift gears completely. Instead of reviewing the content itself I will share simple outline and how I applied this book into my ministry over the past month and I hope to do so in the future.
I have now read Prodigal Christianity twice. Even though Fitch and Holsclaw break down their concepts into helpful chapters based on signposts I find the book to be essentially three sections. Signposts 1-3 are the theological and religious sociological background chapters necessary to start their discussion. These chapters discuss Post-Christendom, Missio Dei, and the Incarnation of Christ into our world and how we live into these realities. Section two includes signposts 4-7 which puts these foundation thoughts into focus by showing how they play out in our own personal witness, how we read scripture, what is the Gospel and how do we share it, and how the Church is the gathered body of Christ with seven purposes (Holsclaws favorite chapter). Chapters 8-10 discuss how to apply all this new teaching into three specific areas of relationships (sexual identity, Fitches favorite chapter), justice and cultural diversity.
My very favorite section is section 2. It seems the most helpful to my current ministry setting in the Midwest. I work with churches across an entire state and the chapter on Church is extremely helpful. Like any book you can pull this one chapter out and use it, however, the preceding chapters are necessary to gain its full impact, especially chapters 3-6. The chapter on Church discusses seven practices that are required to be the Kingdom present in a community. Communion is foundational for these authors. It is the purpose of gathering as Church and it tells the Gospel message. Second proclaiming the whole Gospel, not just a message of salvation is important. See Scott McKnight's "King Jesus Gospel" for more on this concept. They practice reconciliation with one another and teach those who visit their church to exercise it as well. The church should be "with" the people on the fringes. The church should be "with" children. This is powerful. I wish there was more than just a paragraph or two on each of these. They emphasize the five fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. To learn more about this see J.R. Woodwards "Creating a Missional Culture." They practice the Kingdom prayer (Lords Prayer) because it "opens space for the Kingdom to break in as Christ enters in power, presence, and healing."
This book has put language to ministry concepts I have been working with and towards for several years now. It is comforting to know someone is able to synthesize and give meaning to various concepts floating around in the "Missioal Church" concept. I have used this book already in ministry. It has helped me be able to give language to churches looking to participate in missional church concepts. It has also helped me organize a "Missional Immersion" process for young adults for the state I work with. This book has motivated me to keep on pursuing the Missional God into my neighborhood and into the churches I serve.
I hope you check this book out at some point. My apologies again for not producing the 5 week study I promised but hopefully this quick summary is useful to others and motivates you to read and apply these concepts.
David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw Bio's:"Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier" by David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw. David Fitch is a copastor and founder of Life on the Vine Christian Community in Chicago. He serves as the B.R. Lidner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary. He has authored six other books as well including "The End of Evangelicalism?" and "The Great Giveaway" He has a strong web presence as a contributor to websites and blogs regularly at his own siteReclaiming the Mission. Geoff Holsclaw is also copastor ofLife on the Vine Christian Community in Chicago and also serves as an adjunct professor at Northern Seminary. Geoff also serves as the Midwest Coordinator for the Eccelsia Network and is regularly seen on the web as well including his blog For Time Being.