Sunday, June 8, 2008

Book Review: The Ministry of the Missional Church

A while back I had mentioned a book I read called "The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led By the Spirit" by Craig Van Gelder. This has by far been one of the more influential books for me this year and also just one of the better books on the missional church that I have read.

With so many books on the missional church out, I really have to see something in a book that would bring me to my "blogging knees" to discuss it with you. This book assumes that the reader has a bit of knowledge on the missional church as it goes directly into connecting missiology with ecclesiology with little-to-no explanation. It is asking how the missional church functions without grasping onto and bleeding to death some sort of program to make them "missional." For Van Gelder, the answer is simply the presence and participation in and of the Holy Spirit. He says that "...a missional ecclesiology understands congregations as being creations of the Spirit." (107) However, he goes on to discuss that each church has its own identity within the Spirit which it must be in constant discernment about. And though Van Gelder offers structures and suggestions on what missional church looks like within the context of following the Holy Spirit, he says that too needs to be capable of being thrown out in light of following the Spirit's lead.

This is a great book for people who are wondering if the missional church is just another program or structure that will turn into some trend after a decade or so. Van Gelder shows that with the Holy Spirit, the missional church simply lives out what it is set to do. I actually find myself understanding the Church and the Holy Spirit better through Van Gelder's explanations and have a difficult time seeing the Church move in any other direction with much success of bringing forth the Kingdom of God without some acknowledgment of Van Gelder's message.

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