Missional Emerging: From “Doing” to “Being”

Alan Arnold, Pinnacle Associate


Phyllis Tickle presented church professionals a useful gift in her book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and

Why (Baker Books, 2008). It was a framework for understanding the mayhem troubling the 21st century Church.

Tickle theorized that approximately every 500 years the Church and society go through a grand adjustment – a modification stemming from changes in human awareness of God’s relation to everything. Previous turnings include the beginning of the monastery/convent movement (~500 AD), the Great Schism (~ 1000), and the Protestant Reformation (~1500).

So, she said, the time for another of the Church’s vast “rummage sales” surrounds us!

That the context of today’s Church in North America is in steady morph mode is inescapable and proposed responses to the evolving environment jam church in-boxes.

Church-growth and church-renewal programs aiming to reverse a dogged decline in church membership endure even through questionable outcomes.

The very identity of Christ’s Church seems to be correcting.

Denominations in the US developed as ways of expressing particular modes of doing something for God. Organization reflected purpose and the driving principle for most denominations is based on the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).

Adding disciples to church rolls became the primary motivation of congregations.

Hence, there seemed to be a single purpose of the Church with varied ways of carrying out that task.

Refugees from institutional Christianity are bringing forth renewed appreciation of the vitality of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.

Along with this rejuvenation has come a different sense of purpose for the Church. That is, attracting disciples for the maintenance of an outdated order is being left behind. In its place is the call to develop disciples who will participate in the missio Dei itself – the establishment of the redemptive reign of God in Christ.

Missional churches are those searching for ways to shift their identities from those that simply do things to adopting ways of being within the unity of the Trinity.

The organizing principle for missional churches is to participate fully in the redemptive work of God to renew all Creation.
Whether the desire for such involvement turns out to be one of the hallmarks or simply a footnote of this fourth turning of the Church will not become clear for decades – perhaps centuries!

In the interim, disciples are acquiring an awareness of the fulsome movement of the Trinity within the emerging scene and committing themselves to be a part of that journey.

Thus, the contributions of the missional church are both a result and a cause of the next emergence that Phyllis Tickle alerted us to.

Contact Alan at alana@pinnaclelead.com
Helen