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:: Saturday, April 12, 2003 ::

Given the context of the community that I am working with (come fall), developing a missional lifestyle within the community will become a global missional lifestyle. That's what happens when you become missional in the context of an internationally-renowned state university campus (The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Every fall, the world lands on our doorstep. Students from all over the world come to study in a wide range of fields. Every spring, they depart to the rest of the world. Mission really couldn't get more convenient than that, now could it?

Yet, IMHO, many of the campus ministries at the U of I have faltered when it has come to mission. The number of students participating in campus ministry as a whole at UIUC seems to have remained relatively stable for a considerable period of time. Sure, certain groups grow large (and do so quickly) and others seem to shrink. But I wonder how much they are merely shifting groups of people between campus ministry groups. In other words, they're not gaining most of their growth from new converts (which is their stated mission). Instead, they seem to be doing a good job at maintaining Christian students' Christian lifestyle on their campuses. Which isn't bad, really.

Now before you all come and burn down my house, let me say that I've had really good interactions with the Big Three in campus ministry: InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ, and The Navigators, not to mention a whole host of others. These ministries are doing positive work. I'm not anti-campus ministry.

What I am suggesting is that the time has come to move beyond the church/para-church paradigm into a new way of being the church. While this will involve some level of deconstruction of the exiting models it will more importantly involve the development of parallel ministries that will eventually become the norm.

These parallel structures will involve a local-congregation orientation that lives as a community in a community. It must be multi-generational. It must rigorously hold to historical orthodoxy while being willing to chuck a whole lot of what we perceive to be church (or para-church) in favor of new ways of being and doing. It must surrender the very jr.high-esque competition of who's bigger and better than who for a more cooperative model.

The first step will be a recovery of a sense of mission. Over the next few days, I hope to start throwing around a lot of "churchy" "theological" language to help us name the issues involved in doing and being this sort of thing. Words like:

Missiology
Ecclesiology
Christology
Eschatology

And so on. These theological categories do overlap considerably but they are helpful for organizing discussion.

What do you think? Really, I want to know... :)

:: Matt 4/12/2003 01:09:00 AM :: permalink :: ::
...
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