I'm going to outline my research over the next few days as a series of posts. I'm hoping I can make the 'dinner party test' where most people can understand roughly what I am looking at, as well as some more academic posts for those of you who want to engage there too. I hope you'll give me some feedback as we go along. Firstly today, some back ground and preperation before I get to that.
In the picture above there are three domains/territories*. God, the Church and the World. If we map these domains very simply like you might have done in high school as venn diagrams (sorry if that gives you the chills and flashbacks), we can look at how these territories intersect, are distinctive from each other and what happens when they are in union (BTW no set or correct form of church is assumed in this diagram).
1. Institutional Religion: The sacred and secular divide of a belief in God, experienced in church, but separate from the world.
2. Social Service Agency: The caring for people in the world with no connection to a worshipping and confessional community of God in that reality.
3. Privatised Spirituality: Personalised non-institutionalised religion, where God is a reality in my world but not with others in any organised way etc.
4. Mission: The missio dei (mission of God)/Kingdom of God take place in the overlap of all three territories. "It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but it is the God of mission who has a Church in the World. "*
Whilst the diagram helps me understand the dualistic nature of much of the western worlds church life, of a faith separate from the world, it also maps out a more recent phenomena of privatised post church religion. Many people trying to get to number 4 may have ended up in a post-church response rather than real missional church.
* For a much better drawn diagram see Hirsch & Frost: The Shaping of things to come, page 185. I have heard and seen this diagram used so many times in missional conversations, does anyone know if it is orginal to Hirsch & Frost?
** Tim Dearborn, Beyond Duty: a passion for Christ, a heart for mission, MARC, 1998 as cited in Mission-Shaped Church : Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context, page 85.