What we HOPE ‘Missional’ Could Mean by Geoff Holsclaw

In keeping with the new format of reclaimingthemission.com, we are adding a second post every week. This week’s second post is this one by Geoff Holscaw. He also is a Co-Pastor at Life on the Vine Church, and an Affiliate Professor of Theology at Northern Seminary.  You can follow him on Twitter or FB. Read more about him here. Join in this conversation won’t you?


Tony Jones is asking some great questions about labels, especially about ‘missional.’  He was prompted by one of our very short promo videos where we distinguish between Neo-Reformed and Emergent.  He notes that we “are among the most responsible people for the growth and development of the emergent movement,” to which I say that Tony is giving us far too much credit.

But back to those pesky labels. Often times the best way to understand these labels is not through definitions and criteria, but through stories and lives.  In the “Introduction” Prodigal Christianity Dave and I (Geoff) talk about how we have moved from the ‘Emergent’ to the ‘Missional’ label and what we HOPE that label could mean.  In the Introduction we note that the term ‘missional’ can mean just about anything (and we lament this), but we still hope that it could catalyze a renewal of the church.  If nothing less, we hope our book can contribute to the much larger movement coalescing as Missio Alliance, a group linking churches, denominations, and seminaries among the forgotten Evangelicalism (the non-SBC/Gospel Coalition type of Evangelicals).

Because you can get the Introduction for free on Kindle and Nook, we thought we would just save you the step and post it here.

Prodigal Christianity Introduction ~

What do you HOPE for (and or fear) when it comes to ‘missional’? Is there any use in that label? What is its difference from ‘emergent’?

(FYI: Prodigal Christianity is now available digitally, and comes out in hardback on March 18th)

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Posted in Emerging Church, Evangelicalism, Missio Alliance, Missional, Neo-Reformed, Uncategorized
6 comments on “What we HOPE ‘Missional’ Could Mean by Geoff Holsclaw
  1. Ryan Donoho says:

    In reading this post, watching the “Why We Wrote This Book” video, and reading the Prodigal Christianity introduction this thought keeps hitting me: We live in a time when some of the church is trying to break free from the trappings of the reformation while others hold onto it with a death-grip. Christianity in America has been dramatically shaped by the reformation. Denominations have helped uphold the teachings and traditions formed during the reformation. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy became codified and inflexible within the major Christian structures. This rigidity has become a straitjacket to the church; from which many now are trying to break free. Some do, but not without struggle and pain, and once set free may seem adrift and alone. What will they call this current upheaval 500 years from now, and are we doomed to repeat this type of process?

  2. Ryan Donoho says:

    Another related thought to my last post… the printing press helps create the reformation and the internet helps create _______?

  3. Ryan,
    Great thoughts. I really like your reference to the printing press the cultural revolution that it created. Who knows what this social media revolution will bring.

    About the Reformation, yes, we see this tug-of-war between defending the Reformation and giving up on it. Our position is that this tug-of-war overlooks the ‘radical reformation’ that totally gave up on all that and we think this ‘radical reformation’ has resources for our current mission beyond Christendom.

    I would love to hear how you fill in that ‘blank’ above.


  4. Jeff Straka says:

    We DO know what the internet/social media will bring – it is bringing it NOW. One of the main reasons for an accelerated rated of “nones” is that people can now find out historical information about their religion that previously was hidden from them by the “gatekeepers”. The “ex-Mormon” movement is a microcosm of what the rest of religion has awaiting. It is this stream of information that led me to become a post-theist as well as a post-Christian at the end of 2012. I have been part of the emergent movement (Atlanta) for over 6 years and have been co-leader of a cohort in Marietta for 4 years (and will continue). To me, “missional” is simply another branch the church desperately tries to grab onto as they fall from a cliff. Alleviating human (and animal) pain, suffering, injustice, environmental destruction and abuse in the world are essential causes, but I don’t find it necessary to stay in tribal, segregated communities to be answer. I find it far more effective (and highly sustainable going forward) to gather and work with other progressive religions and with the non-religious towards these goals.

  5. Chris Morton says:

    I’m excited to read this Geoff. I share one hesitancy with Tony in regard to your intro. You seem to be defining yourself by what you are not. I assume the majority of the book is not just a criticism of the new right and left, but a third way.

    • Chris,
      Yeah totally. The intro is us just trying to explain where we are coming from and where we are going. We certainly do spend time laying out criticisms of Neo-Reformed/Emergent, but yes, we spend a lot of time on this alternative way of joining God’s mission.

4 Pings/Trackbacks for "What we HOPE ‘Missional’ Could Mean by Geoff Holsclaw"
  1. [...] comes in response to the intriguing “Why This Book?” video put out by David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw to promote their new book Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional [...]

  2. [...] responded to Tony Jones questions about the ambiguity around the term missional.  They include: -What we HOPE ‘Missional’ Could Mean by Geoff Holsclaw -Who isn’t missional? Steven Knight -What is Missional Anyway? -I LOVE [...]

  3. [...] to the help of Geoff Holsclaw, David Fitch, J.R. Rozko and others, 10 Misconceptions about Missional was the biggest post ever on [...]

  4. [...] Here is a brief explanation about why we wrote this book.  It stirred up some conversation with Tony Jones and the I responded a little bit at Reclaiming the Mission. [...]

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
Prodigal Christianity
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