Original Research

Missional church and local constraints: A Dutch perspective

Rein Brouwer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 30, No 2 | a329 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v30i2.329 | © 2009 Rein Brouwer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 October 2009 | Published: 10 December 2009

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Abstract

The missional church concept promises to guide local churches in the direction of a new identity and mission. It is a response to a sense of ecclesiological and congregational urgency that is felt all over the world. In Africa, North America and Europe, churches and local faith communities have been challenged by the changes in the religious state of affairs since the 1960s. Whether we still call it ‘secularisation’ or rephrase it as ‘differentiated transformation’, the face of religion is changing globally. In many parts of the world, this raises a feeling of crisis that gives way to the redef nition of the mission and purpose of the church. ‘Missional church’, however, is a precarious concept. Nobody disagrees with the intention but can it be more than an inspiring vision? In order to realise this vision, a multi-layered and multi-dimensional analysis of ‘culture’ is essential. We should move the analysis beyond the philosophical interpretation of relatively abstract and evasive macro-level processes, such as ‘modernity’ and ‘post-modernity’. The future of the missional church depends on a differentiated and empirical, informed perspective on culture. For this purpose, this article proposes the concept of ecology: A system of diverse populations, including populations of congregations and faith communities, that interacts with these populations and with their specific environments. Preparing a missional congregation for the future should be accompanied with a thorough empirical investigation into the ecology of the congregation. We should be thinking intensively about and looking for vital ecologies.

Keywords

empirical theology; practical ecclesiology; congregational ecology; missional church; local faith communities

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