Vista Issue 12: Missional in Europe
In a rapidly changing world one of the ways we make sense of the changes around us is by inventing new words (neologisms) to describe the new in terms of our existing worldview. 2012 has given us new words for widespread political disorder (omnishambles), impending economic disaster in Europe (Eurogeddon) and the youth have reinvented the Latin phrase carpe diem as yolo, “you only live once”.
In this edition of Vista we take a close look at two neologisms. Our headline article, by Darrell Jackson, is an exclusive interview with Mike Frost, whose upcoming book will introduce the concept of “excarnation”. Frost argues that Christian relationships and community are being disembodied by secularism and this poses real challenges for Christian mission today.
That is followed by three articles looking at another neologism which despite appearing less than fifteen years ago has already become part of our common Christian language – the word missional. Jo Appleton presents the results of her research into the understanding of missional among 18-30 year-olds. I then try to tackle the difficult challenge of considering how missional might be measured. And Jo presents a case study where she allows the voices of leaders of missional communities in the city of Berlin to define what missional looks like in their context. Vista concludes with a review of three non-English titles engaging in the missional conversation in Europe.
Neologisms are necessary but dangerous. All too easily they can become jargon which is only intelligible to those who are “in the know”. Good neologisms require little definition since their meanings are intuitive. Others are open to such a wide range of definitions and interpretations that, rather than facilitating communication they quickly end up in the neolograveyard. Sorry, I couldn’t resist it! Let’s hope missional doesn’t turn out to be one of these.
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