Sunday, May 28, 2006

Defining Reformission by Mark Driscoll

I have just came across this interesting quote by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. while surfing the Christian blogosphere:
Reformission is a radical call to reform the church's traditionally flawed view of missions as something carried out in foreign lands and to focus instead on the urgent need in our own neighborhoods, which are filled with diverse cultures of Americans who desperately need the gospel of Jesus and life in his Church. Most significant, they need a gospel and a church who are faithful both to the scriptural texts and to the cultural contexts of America....What I am advocating is not an abandonment of missions across the globe but rather an emphasis on missions that begins across the street, like Jesus commanded (Acts 1:8)

- Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission
I wholeheartedly say a resounding AMEN to these words by Mark Driscoll. Too often, our idea of missions is to uproot ourselves, travel to a far-away distant land, experience a foreign culture and preach the gospel in a foreign language. I agree that missions is not something that is solely done in some remote countries, but should begin across the street. To put it in a local context, do we really need to go to Thailand to preach the gospel when we have plenty of unreached people in Singapore who never have the gospel preached to them? Not that I am against overseas missions, but I think we must adopt a balanced approach to missions at home and overseas.

After reading a couple of blog reviews, I think I would most probably be purchasing the book The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out without Selling Out, which appears to contain a number of interesting ideas. I thought the three formulas provided by Mark Driscoll conform pretty much to my perception of the Christian environment today:
  1. Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch
  2. Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism
  3. Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism
According to Mark Driscoll, it is important that "(1) the gospel (loving our Lord), (2) the culture (loving our neighbour), and (3) the church (loving our brother)" works together to ensure success in our mission to the world.

On the second formula, I do have a special concern for churches and Christians that seek to be culturally relevant. While we might fall into the trap of sectarianism, where being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your mission, the trap of syncretism is just as real - being so culturally relevant that the message is lost. I see this happening particularly with Christian youth, where there is a danger of infusing too much entertainment and seeker-friendly sermons into the worship service that I am afraid the gospel is neglected – people are converted to the church or the pastor but not to Jesus.

Update! 1 June 2006: I have gone to SKS Books Warehouse yesterday to buy the book. It appears to be the last copy in the store.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree mostly with that quote and somewhat with what you are saying, but we as the church should never conform to the society to make the gospel appealing and to make Christianity look tame to the world. This leads to tolerant apathy and not true conversion. Mark Driscoll is in a dangerous place in between Emergent philosophy and Biblical truth. He may have good theology in this area, but his methodology is definitley wrong. Take alook at which does an excellent reveiw of Driscoll and his new book.

1/6/06 3:35 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I do absolutely agree with you! I don’t think we should water down the gospel to make it appealing either. However, I am thinking of certain taboos and customs in other cultures too. For instance, the giving of red packets during Chinese New Year, which demonstrates filial piety or respect for one’s elders. Upon embracing the Christian faith, we do not have to discontinue this cultural practice even though it is not stated in Scripture. As Christians, customs such as ancestral worship have to be forbidden.

I thought if I were to buy an emergent book, better a Reformed quasi-emergent like Mark Discroll than Brian McLaren. Anyway, I have bought the book and might be posting my thoughts later on.

1/6/06 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I understand what you are saying, when a missionary goes to another culture he should always be working himself out of a job (true with all ministries). And he should not try to replicate a church from where he was sent but have a unique church to its setting.

There are things to learn from the emergent movement that are not all wrong, but those things are not only found in emergent churches either but can be found in a spiritually thriving church.

We must learn from the mistakes of the Mega-Church to which the EC is a response to.

I just wrote to make sure it was clarified that we do not totally support what they are saying or doing. Some may be good, but if faulty in one area it is a good bet it is because there is fault elsewhere. To have a "total theology" that covers your entire life and one that is consistent it is important to constantly have one's theology open to change in accordance to God's Word, and not culture. I am sure you agree, but it is what is implied that leads to problems because they are not said.

1/6/06 10:46 PM  
Blogger vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi wooQ,

Nice blog. Glad you're going to bible college too!

Check out this post from "Emergent No":

Mark is clearly postmodern in thinking. Analyse his wordings and tell me whether you agree :)

BTW, which denomination do you belong to?

God bless.

6/6/06 7:19 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

After reading the book, I do agree that Mark Driscoll would kind of fits the label of a “cussing preacher.” However, I am hesitant to brand all of his theology as postmodern. Perhaps his idea of ecclesiology, which tries to reach out to culture, but not his soteriology and missiology. As far as I can tell, he adheres to biblical orthodoxy as much as possible. Driscoll is totally against easy-believism and seeks to return to the biblical model of missions, which he label as Reformission Participation Evangelism (belong to the church, then believe in Jesus) as opposed to Routine Presentation Evangelism (believe in Jesus, then belong to the church).

One of the benefits Discroll says Reformission Participation Evangelism bring about is “Reformission evangelism blurs the lines between evangelism and discipleship, enabling non-Christians to learn a great deal about Scripture and the Christian life before making a decision about Christ.”

Another benefit is “Their conversion is not merely a mental assent to facts they believe but is a conversion of the totality of their lives. This prevents them from being carnal Christians and people who lives apart from repentance and holiness, wrongly believing they have been saved because they have a few theological facts in order.”

So I will not be too quick to brand Driscoll as entirely emergent and postmodern. These words from his blog sums up his outlook: “Theologically I am an old school Bible-thumper, and culturally I am a progressive because my heart burns for the church to be an effective missionary to the culture for the gospel.”

p.s. I am denominationally a Brethren.

7/6/06 2:39 PM  
Blogger vincit omnia veritas said...

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your personal observations with regard to Driscoll's theological position. While I disagree with your conclusions in general, I believe both of us need to observe the fruits of this man's ministry more closely :) For one, his tongue needs to be "sanctified" and bridled.

Do drop by this post by Tim Challies when you can:

All the best for your college work! All Glory to God. Amen!

7/6/06 7:42 PM  
Anonymous site said...

So, I do not actually consider this may have success.

30/7/12 11:15 PM  

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