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Ministry of the Missional Church, The: A Community Led by the Spirit [Paperback]

By Craig Van Gelder (Author) & Alan Roxburgh (Foreword by)
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Item description for Ministry of the Missional Church, The: A Community Led by the Spirit by Craig Van Gelder & Alan Roxburgh...

There's a different kind of church conversation going on these days--one that moves beyond just focusing on purpose, strategies, or recovering early church practices. Craig Van Gelder argues that understanding the nature of the church is foundational for clarifying the purpose of the church and for developing and organizing its ministry. Moving beyond methods and techniques to create or sustain church growth, Van Gelder shows that when a church is focused on Spirit-led ministry, growth and development are the natural outcome. The Ministry of the Missional Church brings together theology and organizational theory in a way that inspires biblical and theological imagination about how to let the church be the church--a Spirit-led, missional community that seeks to participate fully in God's mission in its particular place in the world.

Publishers Description
In a time when churches are focusing on finding strategies and techniques to guarantee success, a movement toward the missional church is emerging. Missional churches are communities created by the Spirit with a unique nature and identity. Purpose and strategies of the church are derivative dimensions, the activities that flow naturally from the church that is focused on Spirit-led ministry.
"The Ministry of the Missional Church" leads pastors, ministry leaders, and laypersons through three simple arguments--the church is; the church does what it is; the church organizes what it does--in order to make sense of how missional churches work. And by focusing the work of the church as the work of the Triune God, this unique book will change the way readers think about the church and the world.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Baker Books
Pages   204
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  080109139X  
ISBN13  9780801091391  

Availability  2 units.
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More About Craig Van Gelder & Alan Roxburgh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig Van Gelder is professor of congregational mission at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a church consultant, coeditor of The Church Between Gospel and Culture, and editor of Confident Witness-Changing World.

Craig Van Gelder currently resides in St. Paul, in the state of Minnesota.

Craig Van Gelder has published or released items in the following series...
  1. American Society of Missiology Monograph
  2. Gospel & Our Culture
  3. Missional Church
  4. Missional Network

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Administration
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Institutions & Organizations
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Ministry of the Missional Church, The: A Community Led by the Spirit?

What the Church is  Jun 10, 2009
This book is about informing the reader on how the church needs to be understood in order for it to see the world as the missional horizon for the redemptive reign of God through Christ. So often the church merely focuses on its purpose, strategic programs or they embark on redefining their image towards the first century church. Van Gelder provides the reader with an understanding that returns the church to its original nature and reestablishes its foundation. His main focus is to recognize the church as a Spirit-led body of believers which, when accomplished, the church experiences the growth and development necessary to become an effective missional church. One way of being a spirit-led church, a way that made sense to me, is to recognize what the Spirit is doing here on earth and participate accordingly. But how do church leaders accomplish this? Van Gelder does an excellent job in explaining the conversion from a corporate or established church to a missional church. And the key point is that in this conversion the identity of a church is no longer understood in terms of what the church does but what the church is, as something that is related to its nature (86). Van Gelder unpacks in great detail what the church is, its nature, by explaining the biblical and theological foundations while providing valuable organizational methods to accomplish the objective. I recommend this book for all future and current leaders of Christ's church who desire to understand the dynamics of an effective spirit-led, missional ecclesiology in the midst of our western presuppositions and ever-changing cultural context.
An important book for church leaders  Jun 4, 2009
Van Gelder's book provides an overview for anyone who has heard the buzz word "missional church" flying around and would like to know what that is all about. The main topic is how a church can discern and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit--how it can do Spirit-led ministry.

The author builds the foundation for his case for why and how the missional church should be Spirit-led by studying the ministry of the Spirit in the Old and New Testament. He then explains how the church can be led by the Spirit through paying attention to its context, before he, with a run through recent church history, defines missional church in contrast to two dominant church models: established and corporate church. After laying this foundation van Gelder goes in some depth on how the church can be spirit-led in leadership and decision making, and on principles for structure and organization that will allow the church to respond well to the Spirit's guidance through change and growth.

I am involved in church planting and will likely lead a church plant in a few years, and van Gelder's book is among the more significant books I have read in preparing for that. It provides great regarding the nature of the church and fairly practical models of how to be a Spirit-led church. Of particular interest to me was his chapter on Spirit-led leadership and organization. He gives a short but enlightening overview of development of organizational theory through the last century, and draws out insight from more recent open systems that he appropriates to a church congregation. Van Gelder creates a complex model of a congregation as an open system, where processes, purpose, structure, leadership, God, the context and much more are identified and related. His model seems well argued and I believe it gives a great conceptual framework to understand the Spirit-led ministry of the missional church.

The Ministry of the Missional Church covers much ground in few pages and is consequently light in some areas. He does not build a solid case for why the church is missional by nature, but I assume that is discussed in more detail in his previous book The Essence of the Church. In discussing the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, van Gelder comments that "the ministry of the Spirit pervades the whole of Scripture but usually comes to expression more as a subtext than text." Teasing out the ministry of the Spirit would demand significantly more footwork than van Gelder has time for in this little book, and therefore his arguments regarding the ministry of the Spirit in the Bible are not too persuasive.
A Book for Church Leaders  May 23, 2009
The Ministry of the Missional Church: A community led by the Spirit, by Craig Van Gelder, is written for church leaders and laymen who desire to be part of a church community that is led by the Spirit. Van Gelder's primary emphasis in the book is for Christians to garner an understanding of what it means to be a part of a Spirit led missional church in a postmodern world. The reason being that the church is always in a constant state of change due to culture. As such, the quick fix, the panacea, for how the church should adapt to the changing culture is not always evident. Therefore, he writes, its laymen and leaders must be equipped to recognize, through the Spirit, 1) the nature of their specific church, in order that 2) adaptive innovations to respond to an ever-changing postmodern world can be implemented.

Out of Van Gelder's understanding of a Spirit led missional approach to church ministry he lays the ground work for further description of elements that affect church growth/vitality. These elements include the church being aware of its local environment, cultural context, theology, stories that make up the church and its people, church history, and social sciences. In understanding the afore mentioned elements he believes organizational structures (i.e. open systems approach) can subsequently be implemented that will utilize the churches nature (all of the elements combined). It will in this way make the church missional. As he says, "the church is (nature) and does what it is (missional outpouring from its nature)." Any leader, then, that comprehends their churches nature can then ask questions about the purpose of their church, its ministry, and determine the direction and scope of its missional capabilities. Where churches often go awry, he claims, is when problems are discovered that threaten the vitality of the church and the response is followed with strategic planning, vision casting, re-creating something of the past, etc. paying no heed to the nature of the church. Church leaders must grasp the power of knowing their church's nature because it gives the church its missional identity.

I highly recommend reading The Ministry of the Missional Church. Leaders from both modern and postmodern churches can learn how to implement change and respond to external cultural changes. Van Gelder's open systems approach to ministry emphasizes all of the creative elements that are key to building a healthy community of individuals. Again, these elements include depending on the Spirit and word of God, understanding the social sciences, knowing a church's cultural context, being stewards of the people and resources that make up the church etc. which all combine to form a churches nature. This nature is the churches substance and identity and that which it will reproduce in its local context, consequently making it a missional church. A wonderful and intellectually stimulating book.
missional and useful  May 7, 2009
Van Gelder's book is not just another book about being "missional". "Missional" being a hot topic in Christian circles lately and often not addressed as thoughtfully as you will find in this book. Van Gelder takes seriously both the nature of the church (globally and locally) as well as what it really means for a local church to be Spirit-led. There are no easy answers or quick fixes in this book, instead there is a great deal of information about the kind of work and commitment required for a church to understand it's local community and to see and become a part of God's work in that community.
Van Gelder sees social science research, models and tools as a valuable part of the discerning process in seeking to be Spirit-led. If social science is not your background or one of your interests you may find it pretty dense going in places but you will also find it worthwhile. He avoids any of the "one size fits all" approaches and instead provides tools leaders can use to understand the unique history, situation and calling of their own congregations.
When a book about "Missional Church" really is about Missional Church  Apr 30, 2009
This book is two things: (1) a theological discussion about the formation and reformation of the American Church, and (2) an organizational management reference text for navigating both the aforementioned formation and reformation. Van Gelder seeks to address the need to understand the work of the Holy Spirit within and through the church and how leadership is called to respond to and contribute to that work by shifting from "doing" church to "being" the church. His theme focuses on "Spirit-Led Ministry" and begins by discussing this theme in conjunction with the Bible, the Context of the U.S. and the Missional Church. He continues by delving into the application of Organizational Theory, focusing specifically on Discernment, Leadership, Growth and Development. The author is addressing the lack of ability within the church to engage in healthy paradigm shifts because of a disconnect with the work that the Holy Spirit has done (historically) and is doing (currently) in the church.

Overall, the book is well written and provides a significant guide for churches and communities to begin to explore a thorough and involved examination of their origin and purpose, to be followed by an opportunity to adjust aspects of the church that hold it back from being able to reconnect with that purpose and encounter the world as originally intended. The second-half of the book is steeped in Organizational Theory and presents several high-level concepts. Van Gelder provides many illustrations to assist the reader in connecting with these concepts and he is very careful to connect his prepositions with the theological foundation that was presented at the beginning of the book. While students of OT and other management science majors may find that these are clear and simple explanations, the second half will not bear skimming for the rest of us. So if you are going to purchase this book (and if you are working in church leadership, you probably should), be prepared to dedicate time to really engage and wrestle with the concepts.

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