June 8th, 2007
Something that Brandon Hammonds prayed today got the ol’ wheels turning in my head and heart. He prayed that a missiology of signs and wonders would emerge in this generation. “Missiology”, for the uninitiated, is properly defined by the Oxford dictionary as the study of religious (typically Christian) missions and their methods and practices. Missiology and praxis (practice, as distinguished from theory) are two major buzz-words in the evangelical church in our day. The related term, of course, is missional - a term that captures the desire for the church to be relevant (or “contextual”) in its efforts to reach the hearts and lives of unbelievers. These efforts involve the message, morality, and methodology (thank you, Wikipedia…) of the believer who seeks to see the lost come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
Brandon’s prayer stirred me again with appreciation for my missiology - as he so succinctly stated, a missiology of signs and wonders. I understand why cursing and drinking might help some in the emerging stream contextualize for unbelievers the aspects of the gospel that matter (winning the lost by not majoring on the minors - or what they might feel is a non-issue biblically). I can see why, in frustration, they would see the current expression of Christianity as one that is insufficient, irrelevant, and hopelessly unsuitable to present to an unbeliever in this hour. In many ways, I happen to agree.
Yet I long for a way to reach the lost that is radically different than being personally authentic, hospitable, and relatable. While I appreciate that, I am hungry to see more than a warm embrace and a conversation. I want something inexplicable, something transcendant, and something wholly inarguable to take place on a regular basis when I whisper the name of Jesus. I want to see the power of the Holy Spirit that the early church saw. I want to see the dead raised, I want to see the sick healed, and I want to see the demonized suddenly free. I want to see what the Apostle Peter, Charles Finney, and Jonathan Edwards saw: hearts cut in two with conviction of sin with a fear of the Lord and a yearning to repent. I want to see what Stephen and thousands of martyrs have seen: gnashing of teeth and the stopping of the ears because of the tormenting power of the truth for the heart that rages against God.
I want more. So I give myself to prayer and fasting, with the understanding of the uselessness of a conversation in which neither party has much of substance and depth to offer one another. I want to answer the great crisis of the hour from a place of significant personal encounter with the Living God. I do not want to answer the crisis facing the western church with an empty missiology. I want to gather in a solemn assembly in the face of a national crisis and appeal to God with all my might to relent and leave a blessing behind (Joel 2:14), or as Peter called it, a “time of refreshing” (Acts 3:19). That methodology and approach is incredibly frustrating for some evangelicals, as it seems to leave no immediate answer for the one who does not know Jesus. God’s answer of “who knows” in Joel 2 seems to lack the impact one would hope for when my neighbor is suffering, lonely, and depressed today.
I understand that frustration. It feels weak to wait. It feels powerless. In God’s economy, I tend to think of those two emotions, well, as the point.
What’s your missiology?David