Original Research

The recovery of the prophetic voice of the church: The adoption of a ‘missional church’ imagination

Eugene Baron, Moses Maponya
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2077 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2077 | © 2020 Eugene Baron, Moses S. Maponya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 December 2019 | Published: 27 July 2020

About the author(s)

Eugene Baron, Department of Practical and Missional Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa; and, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Moses Maponya, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The social context of church members spawns different ecclesial imaginations of the nature of the church. Those different ecclesial imaginations often function within one particular church. It interacts with each other – in isolation, competition or hostility – to ultimately shape the life of that church. This article discusses the result of a historical study in which the authors dissected the primary ecclesial imaginations of members of churches in South Africa. The authors, therefore, discuss three of the ecclesial imaginations that emanated from the research, which can be observed within the sampled congregations. The authors argue that because the congregants of the churches have such ‘ecclesiological imaginations’, the prophetic voice of the church in South Africa has become silent. Therefore, the authors suggest that the members of the churches in South Africa should re-imagine the nature of the church in terms of the missio Dei if it wants to recover the prophetic voice of the church. The authors conclude that the missional church discourse provides specific conceptual tools to assist congregations to recover the prophetic voice of the church in South Africa.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article demonstrates the relationship between societal context and its influence and impact on the emergence of ecclesial imaginations. There is an interaction between the discipline of social science, humanities, theology and missiological discourses in terms of the challenge that the authors address in this article.


Keywords

missional church; theatrical ecclesiology; stokvel ecclesiology; business ecclesiology; prophetic voice; ecclesial imagination; prosperity gospel.

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