Ed Stetzer: Toward a Missional Convention

The first session today will be led by Ed Stetzer, author of Breaking the Missional Code. His topic is “Toward a Missional Convention.” He begins by confessing his belief that he does not belong at this conference. He is not a theologian on par with others who have spoken and his ministry is not one of controversy, but missiology and church planting.

He is reading his paper which will be released later.

The term “missional” is being used with increasing frequency. But are we a “missional” convention?

What is the origin of the term “missional”? First used in a dictionary of 1907.

The term is used more and more frequently among our agencies and institutions in the SBC. Many other groups are using the term as well. But no one has a monopoly on the term. It is not an ecumenical term, and should not be abandoned simply because it has been used by liberals. We must not abandon terms simply because they are misused by others. To do so would require us to abandon even biblical language since it is too used by others.

While the term “missional” might be new, the concept is not new. It is biblical. God sent His Son Jesus into this world and the Son has sent the church into the world.

We must penetrate our culture with the gospel. We must engage here in what we would expect our missionaries to do internationally. That which was once effective in reaching our communities is no longer. Our objective is to be the glory of God in a kingdom focus by the salvation of the lost.

We must find the balance between cultural relevance and biblical fidelity. To be Southern Baptist is to be united theologically and cooperatively, not methodologically. We must not seek to recover the methods of the past.

Missional churches must both contend for the faith and contextualize the message to the culture.

Our churches need to be biblically faithful, culturally relevant, and counter-cultural communities. If this happens, all churches will not look alike, which will make cooperation harder.

Much to digest here . . . I have never heard or read Stetzer before. I have his book on my reading list. Much of the last part of the session I did not take notes on, since I was listening intently. Listen to the audio, read the manuscript, or buy his book. Regardless of where you come down on this issue, it is an important one that must be acknowledged.

3 comments

  1. Steve, at some point I want to set aside time to study what “they” mean when discussing contextualization.

    It seems that Stetzer, et. al. wants us to utilize the same missiological approach as missionaries in foreign cultures. This is all fine. However, I know for a fact that I do not agree with all missiological paradigms.

    Perhaps the question is not whether we should be “missional” as much as what contitutes a biblical approach to contextualization, etc.

    I’d like to set some time in the future to get you and Scott together for a “think-tank” on this.

  2. Klay,

    I’m all for the “think-tank”. I am thinking through these issues myself. I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction to terminology, so I’m going to read and seriously consider what is actually being said.

    I think, at the least, they (the Missional people) are providing a much needed wake-up call to the 21st Century American church which foolishly believes that nothing has changed since the 1950s (i.e., Most Americans no longer have a “Christian” background.).

    I can’t speak for Scott, but if you’ll provide the tank, I’ll jump in (it better be a big one!).

  3. I know Scott’s really absorbed in Hebrew right now, but I’ll contact him about the idea. I want to get Stetzer’s book and do some other reading/research.

    I’m with you on the need for widespread change. Our engagement of culture needs to be much more apologetic and biblically-chronological. No assuming a biblical background!

    One time in Sevierville, I spent twenty minutes giving an in-depth explanation of the Gospel to a 11-year old girl from Tampa. Asking if she had any questions, she replied, “those rocks in the graveyard — is that god?”

    I told her to file away what I had just discussed with her and then proceeded to start from square-one, “There is one, true, and living God . . . who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present . . . etc.”

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