Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Missional Reading List

Today I got an e-mail from my District Superintendent about a regional meeting that he attended. He and five other District Superintendents met with one of our General Superintendents. (We don't have bishops for historical reasons. The three General Superintendents are peers and together are the highest executives of our denomination.)

Anyway, my DS mentions that the regional group read Velvet Elvis to help them understand "the new emerging generation and their thoughts about the church."

Now I don't want to insult anyone, but my forehead has a bruise from where I was pounding it on my desk.

I think it is a mistake to reduce the current movement to a generational thing. This is not the Baby Bombers redux. Besides, "emerging" is not the real movement. (More about this later.)

Is Velvet Elvis really a good book? Ben Witherington has a few reservations.

Why would church leaders need to be given a book to read to get current on what is happening in the church? Isn't that an important part of their job? Unfortunately, we've turned this job into an administrative and managerial position.

I think Rob Bell might be disturbed to hear his book characterized as an expression of young people's thoughts about the church. His purpose was, I believe, to get everyone to rethink what it means to be the church in today's world. This is something completely different.

Is Rob Bell the right spokesman for this movement? I suspect that there are many other authors who are more thoughtful and better informed theologically.

I'm afraid that this is an exercise maintaining distance. "What makes these emerging types tick? What kind of music do they like? How can we attract them to our churches?"

Emerging is not the future. I must admit that I got caught up in the freshness and energy of the emerging conversation/movement. But I soon realized that the things that really attracted me were those that it had in common with the missional movement.

Missional transcends any specific cultural expression. It is not about candles, blue jeans or coffee houses. It is about an incarnational expression of the Gospel in whatever culture it finds itself in.

Missional is not about being trendy. It is about understanding what it means to be the church and paying the price to do that.

So here's my reading list for anyone who wants to understand the missional movement.

In my opinion, all these are better books than Velvet Elvis. And they certainly are more important.

Pastor Rod

"Helping you become the person God created you to be"


Missional Jerry said...

LOL I just asked a question this post answers

5 minutes ago!

Pastor Rod said...


That was fast. I'm still putting the final touches on it.

So what was the question?


Maria said...

Thanks for the reading list. Amazon thanks you,too!

daniel the smith said...


I read that book, and I liked it, but I can't say I'd recommend it for that purpose. He raised good points to think about (which I also recall being his purpose) but it's no literary masterpiece-- he never finished telling most of the anecdotal stories, which made it hard to read.

Bethany and I spent a night with a missionary family in Milan. He said people there basically want nothing to do with anything that looks like a church (so they're planting home churches/groups/etc). He expects it to be the same here in a 10-20 years. Hard to argue with him when denominational leaders are reading Velvet Elvis to understand the emerging "generation" (lol).

PS When can we start calling it the emerged church?

Pastor Rod said...


Welcome back. I hope you had a good time. Parli l'italiano bene?


daniel the smith said...

No, io non parlo L'italiano bene. :(

I think I'd need to live a month with non English speaking Italians (which were very rare) to get past the cave-man stage. At least I gave them a few laughs... :)

Pastor Rod said...


If you go to Sicily you'll find plenty of Italians who do not speak English. (Some of them are probably my former students.)