i want to stick with reviewing a few books around mission. and for starters a few more that deal with this word missional as a descriptor for the way the church should be or lean, or how it should have its imagination shaped.
one of the people who has written and worked tirelessly in this area for decades is al roxburgh. i remember reading and being inspired by his book on leadership and liminality years back now. he has a whole swathe of books and i want to briefly mention three...
the first introduction to the missional church does what it says. but here's it's edge. a lot of the books on missional church or communities are pitched at those staring new small communities reimagining what it means to be a christian community which is great - we need those. however al's books are more pitched towards a regular church that wants to rethink and go on a journey towards joining in with god's mission. he gives an overview, a take on what the whole missional thing is about but most of the book outlines a process for a church to go on to explore this shift. it's a journey al has taken many churches on so its tried and tested.it's also pretty savvy about how churches work and who in the church might be placed to get people talking and create space for imaginative ideas. essentially where al wants the church to head is to give permission to voice feelings about church and mission that are honest and real, to spark imagination about engaging in the neighbourhood, and then identifying some experiemnets in truth that some groups in the church might begin.
i haven't got the book on my shelf at the moment. i was talking with a friend who runs something out on the edge of church - already very missional. but her church doesn't understand what she is doing. i thought this was the kind of book for a congregation like that so she has leant it to one of the church leaders. the beauty of what al is encouraging is to say that any bog standard church can go on this journey - you don't need to be radical, trendy, young, postmodern or whatever you might imagine is required!
a couple of others he has written fairly recently - missional map making is pitched at leaders who sense the shifts in the world are such that the maps they had to navigate no longer map the new terrain. for me there wasn't a lot new in this but it's certainly a good metaphor and way into thinking about it. again it's pitched more at a church leader than a pioneer. and then the other one i have looked at is simply called missional (by mission al?!) with the subtitle joining god in the neighbourhood. i think i'm right in saying this is the most recent. in it al takes luke-acts with a particular drilling down into luke 10 as a text that might shape a new set of practices. this is very easy to read, the sort of book a church or community group could read and discuss together. in a nutshell al is saying - shift your focus away from church as what you do together and get involved in the local neighbourhood - with friends, local groups, sharing food and life and watch what emerges. this is the book of the three i am most likely to come back to personally. luke-acts is becoming the text i am seeing and reading that is inspiring people everywhere - it's a text for our times (if you want a good few takes on it try luke johnson prophetic jesus prophetic church whose whole book is on that, david bosch in transforming mission and steve bevans in constants in context - that will keep you going!!).