Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Letter to the Editor

Because of my recent 35 Under 35 all-Star status (penned by some close friends - goofballs!), I have had the benefit of receiving a complimentary annual subscription to ChristianWeek Magazine. As one of the sponsors for the Canada's 35 Under 35 campaign, I do not wish to slag this magazine and I'm actually quite impressed with some of the writing and pieces that they do. I've also had the opportunity to grow a friendship with Doug Koop, their Editorial Director, whom I admire and promote as a man who embodies God's love and Christ's grace. He's also someone who is always wanting to grow and reach out beyond the current status quo.

That is the reason I want to bring this aritcle to my readers. I won't say more here, but I am preparing a Letter the Editor to question and guard the magazine against such an article. It speaks about the word 'missional' and specifically targets 'missional churches'. As a magazine that wants to build bridges and encourage Christians across Canada, I suggest this article does more to polarize this magazine from many of the forward thinking Christian youth of Canada.

Please take a read for yourself and let me know if I'm off my rocker. I'd love to hear your thoughts, as I may include them in my Letter to the Editor. Or, maybe you can write one yourself.


Corinne said...

I agree and don't find you to be off your rocker at all. Here is what I wrote in my response to the magazine.

"Hmm. Wow. I disagree with this article completely.

Perhaps we've had different experiences. My experiences with those words come from here.

Church. My church is a group of people who are doing their best to follow what God has outlined in the Bible. While doing that they (we) do our best to support each other in our everyday lives and live in a way that other people are drawn to knowing this Christ who we live for.

Missional. Living in an intentional way of showing others who Christ is. I have 3 young boys and my husband is a student. At this point in our life we cannot go far way to be "missionaries". We CAN however, live a missional life. We CAN teach our kids about Christ. We CAN serve those around us. I CAN bring meals to other families. My husband CAN be an example to the other students around him. Hopefully someday we will be able to "be missionaries" but for now we do what we can do.

Missional Church. A group of people who have each individually decided to follow Christ, who have come together to support each other in this. Both individually and together they aim to live their lives everyday for Christ.

A sad case of word abuse? Not in my books."

dlc said...

... maybe what he really means is, uh, over-use? i think the context might help ... it IS Mac, after all, a seriously denominational school. Also, Mac, as the BCOQ's school is not into trends, or trendy stuff, as they've been there for about 100 yrs. Finally, I think somehow, someway as the dean of the seminary he has a high expectation of the church(es), and assumes 'missional' is a given. It isn't, to us, but maybe it is to him? I wouldn't be too hard on him, but even I had a bit of a reaction as I read MY alumni newsletter which was in today's mail ... halfway through I thought "geez, give the m-word a rest" ... just my thoughts for you.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right to be frustrated with this article. Here is the response I emailed to the paper:

Without question, the word "missional" has become something of a buzz word. As with all such words, it's meaning can often be hard to pin down. Many attach the word to their theology, ministry or church model with little regard to what it actually means or requires of us. In this way the article makes a good point.

However, what I believe that author has done is equate the popular misuse/abuse of the word with the concepts and practices behind the word itself. Acknowledging the challenges stated above, the missional conversation that has grown in the church of late is a promising and life giving shift. It is not a new fad or program based solution, but rather the reclamation of an understanding of our place in God's loving purposes for all of Creation.

I will not go into a detailed explanation on what "missional" is nor launch into a thorough defense of it's usage and importance (beyond what I have already written). What I will say is that the author seems to have weighed in on a significant topic without taking the time and energy to look beyond popular usage. At least I hope this is the case, because to have really engaged the concepts and realities that have emerged from them and yet still come to these conclusions would be unfair at best.

This article seems to be making a relatively good point about buzz word abuse at the expense of a conversation that has given great life to many Christian communities. I fear that mistake may discourage others who would have otherwise benefited from learning about missionality.

In His Peace,
Jamie Arpin-Ricci

AJ Renton said...

Well thanks everyone for your comments. I would agree with what most of you are saying. In fact, Corinne and Jamie are saying it much better than I ever could, so it looks like my letter may not be necessary after all.

One of the reasons I am posting this is that I know the editor of the magazine personally (or is it professionally?) and he has been looking for ways to attract younger readership. I think this article goes a long way to alienate some of those in the emerging church who utilize the catch word 'missional' either rightly or wrongly. Many of these are disollusioned with modern Christian structures and models, including Christian music labels, magazines, and bookstores. This article will be read as an attack on these individuals as the author casts off any who use these words (missional or missional church) as people who hide behind new catch phrases to justify and defend their current practices of faith. These individuals will be eager to pick back up their Geez or Rolling Stone magazines after reading this and will not give second thought to reaching out to ChristianWeek. This is not the magazines desire however, so I am astounded they would print something so blantantly polarizing and negative toward their hoped-for younger audience.

That's enough ranting for now. Thanks for the comments and maybe we'll see more soon.

Anonymous said...

Andy, I don't think your off your fact I'm rockin' with you. I'm frustrated by the authors comments, rather depressing as a matter of fact, rather than plant some seeds to grow amd expand the conversation and open up some fruitfull dialog...he's killed it. I suggest he leave the ivory towers of academia and vist some churches that are actually rtying to work out what it is to be " missional." And missional isn't something you can paint with a broad brush stroke. I think it's going to look a little different for alot of churches depending on what surrounds them.
Lastly, I'm scratching my head to was why christian week would even publish it...unless they're stooping to the level of tabloids. think negativity gets more attention. Rather sad when they could have looked around and shared some stories of encouragement...that would have been "missional."