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The Missionary Congregation, Leadership, and Liminality (Christian Mission & Modern Culture) 1st Edition
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Roxburgh has been a Baptist pastor and currently serves as a church consultant and adjunct lecturer for revitalising congregations for their missional context. In this book he argues congregations in the West need to learn to live the gospel from the margins rather than to expect public prominence. He examines Victor Turner's work on liminality, relating it to the church's experience of marginalization, and says liminality offers a model for missional engagement for our radically changing times. Rather than seeking credibility and identity as therapists, professionals or managers, he says today's missionary congregations needs pastors who are:
- poets who help the congregation hear their story as God's pilgrim people.
- prophets who imaginatively point to a vision of God's purposes in the world.
- apostles who lead through terrain where old maps no longer work and show congregations how to encounter culture with the gospel.
This is an academic but thoughtful booklet on the place of missionary congregations and their leaders.
Originally reviewed for D Cronshaw "The Emerging Church: Pioneering Leadership and Innovation Reading Guide", Zadok Paper (Forthcoming 2010).
In a handbook for doing mission that you can read through in very little time and that'll take several readings and considerable pondering to understand and appropriate, Pastor Alan Roxburgh explores Victor Turner's book-length essay on liminality, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, (Cornell University Press, 1969) as a framework to help us understand the historical, contemporary and maybe even future call of the church. The experience of liminality, of being on the threshold between old and new, neither back where we were nor yet where we think we're heading typically applies to ritualized liturgical rites of passages that dissolve and dis-embed aspects of an individual's or a group's old identity and are at least the beginning of incorporation into a new group or community along with a new status. For Christians, baptism is our primal liminal experience. As we enter the waters, should we be prepared to drown? Yes! And we should be equally prepared to be surprisingly raised from that death by drowning! And then there's also the desert...
Although Pastor Roxburgh insists "The church's lived experience is marginalization," then he says center-margin language is obsolete and also cites the contemporary Spirituality Smorgasbord. And then he says a possible center-periphery relationship may exist between urban and non-urban, though he claims the urban center itself has no margins. This is fascinating and highly thought-provoking and brings us back to the tendency to equate modernization with urbanization as it evokes Max Weber and rationalization, too. Pastor Roxburgh strikingly observes (page 38): "...Read more ›