Contextualizing the Mission of the Church

There are two nice fat buzz words in the title to this post, but they’re all very important for the church today. The challenge is to keep the discussion new and fresh, rather than regurgitating the same thing to one another and working ourselves up into a righteous fit about how missional and relevant we are.

Sound familiar?

One way to break some new ground in our missional discussions and practices is to confront the places where we don’t have things figured out. LT, who I’m happy to see is blogging again–he’s even using WordPress–asks the question at meremission that everyone knows the answer to, but is afraid to ask, “Is anybody here not white?” He asks this question graciously and with humility, offering his two cents as a Chinese pastor in Philly.

How do context and ethnicity affect our thoughts on the mission of the church? I imagine that one’s approach in Vermont will be very different from the approach taken in Philly.

Also, is the missional discussion dominated by the white middle class? If so, could it be because the suburbs tend to lag behind the cities when it comes to innovation? I’m not an expert here, but in the suburbs I’m guessing that people need a philosophy overhaul to get out of the church and into the streets to do ministry. It’s not such a leap for those in the city.

Painting broadly, I think of the suburbs as a place to “withdraw” while the word for cities is “immersion.” Let’s face it, one can easily ignore poverty in the suburbs; it’s not so easy on city streets.

So, if my little hypothesis is correct, could it be that urban ministers have a lot to teach suburban ministers?  I think so.