versão On-line ISSN 1609-9982
Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.30 no.2 Pretoria 2009
Protestant Theological University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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 redefinition 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
Full text available only in PDF format.
Ammerman, N.T., 2001, Congregation and community, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick. [ Links ]
Ammerman, N.T., Carroll, J.W., Dudley, C.S. & McKinney, W. (eds.), 1998, Studying congregations. A new handbook, Abingdon Press, Nashville. [ Links ]
Barrett, L.Y., 2004, Treasure in clay jars, patterns in missional faithfulness, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids. [ Links ]
Becker, J.W. & De Hart, J., 2006, Godsdienstige veranderingen in Nederland [Religious transformation in the Netherlands], [ Links ] Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureaui, Den Haag.
Bosch, D.J., 2005, Transforming mission. Paradigm shifts in theology of mission, Orbis Books, New York. [ Links ]
Brouwer, R., 2003, 'Vereniging als "ecclesiologisch verenging van het Rijk"?' [Unification as 'ecclesiological contraction of the Kingdom'?], Kerk en Theologie 54(3), 189-204.
Brouwer, R., 2005, 'De praxis van God in de plaatselijke geloofsgemeenschap. Theologie in congregational studies', Praktische Theologie 2005(4), 484-501. [ Links ]
Brouwer, R., 2008, 'Hybrid identity. Exploring a Dutch Protestant community of faith', Verbum et Ecclesia 2008(1), 45-61. [ Links ]
Brouwer, R., 2009, Geloven in gemeenschap. Het verhaal van een protestantse geloofsgemeenschap [Faith in community: The story of a protestant community of faith], [ Links ] Kok, Kampen.
Browning, D.S., 1991, A fundamental practical theology. Descriptive and strategic proposals, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis. [ Links ]
Eiesland, N.L., 2000, A particular place. Urban restructuring and religious ecology in a southern exurb, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick. [ Links ]
Geertz, C., 1973, The interpretation of cultures, Basic Books, New York. [ Links ]
Guder, D. (ed.), 1998, Missional church. A vision for the sending of the church in North America, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids. [ Links ]
Haight, R. & Nieman, J., 2009, 'On the dynamic relation between ecclesiology and congregational studies', Theological Studies 2009(70), 577-599. [ Links ]
Heelas, P. & Woodhead, L., 2005, The spiritual revolution. Why religion is giving way to spirituality, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford. [ Links ]
Hoekendijk, J.C., 1964, De kerk binnenste buiten [The church inside out], [ Links ] Ten Have, Amsterdam.
Hopewell, J.F., 1987, Congregation. Stories and structures, Fortress Press, Philadelphia. [ Links ]
Hunsberger, G.R. & Van Gelder, C. (eds.), 1996, The church between Gospel and culture. The emerging mission in North America, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids. [ Links ]
Kennedy, J.C., 1993, Nieuw Babylon in aanbouw. Nederland in de jaren zestig [Building New Babylon: The Netherlands in the sixties], [ Links ] Boom, Amsterdam.
Protestant Church in the Netherlands [PCN], 2005, Learning to live out of wonder, viewed 25 March 2009, from http://www.protestantchurch.nl/site/uploadedDocs/Verwondering_engels(1).pdf.
Rasker, A.J., 1986, De Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk vanaf 1795. Geschiedenis, theologische ontwikkelingen en de verhouding tot haar zusterkerken in de negentiende en twintigste eeuw [The Dutch Reformed Church since 1975], [ Links ] Kok, Kampen.
Schuyt, K. & Taverne, E., 2000, 1950. Welvaart in zwart-wit [1950: Welfare in black and white], SDU Uitgevers, Den Haag.
Schreiter, R.J., 1985, Constructing Local Theologies, Orbis Books, Maryknoll. [ Links ]
Tanner, K., 1997, Theories of culture. A new agenda for theology, Fortress Press, Minneapolis. [ Links ]
PO Box 80105 NL-3508
Received: 24 Aug. 2009
Accepted: 19 Oct. 2009
Published: 10 Dec. 2009
Note: Dr Rein Brouwer is a Research Associate of Prof. J.C. Müller, Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria