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Friday, November 24, 2006

The Reformed and Missional Doctrine Of The Parish

One of the theological fads of the church growth movement is to equate the doctrine of the "parish church" with a non apostolic, "come serve me" mentality of doing church.

It's usually linked to another favorite whipping boy, the doctrine of "Christendom".

These two doctrines are used to "prove" the Church expected people to come to it and was not interested in being "apostolic".

But the "parish system" need not be "non apostolic" at all.

There's a clue to that in a source Reformed people should know. After all our most famous confession is the Westminister Confession. Celtic Christianity scholar Ian Bradley reminds us that the phrase "minster" derives from the more ancient term monasterium - the missional base of operations from which to penetrate a geographical area with the gospel. The monasterium was devoted to worship, praise, the training of leadership and the preservation of knowledge from which to send mission teams. This model saved civilization once when Europe was going "Post Roman". Why wouldn't it work again in "Post Christian" America?

A missional doctrine of the parish doesn't see it as a doctrine teaching the privilege and prestige of the Church and, by implication, the obligation of the masses to fawn before the Church and kiss the Bishop's ring. Instead the missional understanding of the parish is held because of the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and over all and the right of people within geographical reach of the minster to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. It should go without saying it is based on the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.

Click here to open an adobe acrobat file discussing, in essence, the Reformed and Missional Doctrine of the Parish. It's an actual mission philosophy for a small missions agency working in Peru.